How to Make a Self-Watering Plant Pot

[Music] In hot, sunny weather, keeping plants in
containers watered can take a considerable amount of time. Then there’s always the anxiety about
how plants will fare when you’re away for a
well-earned break. One solution is to use self-watering
pots, such as this. It’s actually very easy and inexpensive
to make one, so in this video we’ll show you how – step-by-step. You’ll need two containers which, when stacked,
will leave a gap between the bottom and top containers. The gap will serve as your water reservoir. If there isn’t enough of a gap you can
use some plastic pots to raise the top container up a little more. We’re using two 5-gallon (20 liter)
food-grade plastic buckets. You can often pick these up for free from restaurants,
or very cheaply from home improvement stores. You’ll also need a one and a half inch (3cm)
diameter plastic pipe long enough to run the length of the two
buckets, a plastic cup, yogurt pot or similar to act as a wicking chamber and of course some quality potting soil
and your plants. Start by preparing the
wicking chamber. This should dangle down from the top
bucket into the bottom. Stuffed with potting soil, it will draw or wick water
from the reservoir up into the top bucket. Use a marker pen to trace an outline
of the pot onto the middle of the top bucket. Now cut it out. You can use a keyhole saw
or a hacksaw for this. Here I’m using a drill to make lots of small holes so I
can use a sharp knife to cut the plastic out. The wicking chamber will need lots
of holes all over the sides to allow the water to enter from the reservoir. Use a half-inch (1cm) wide drill bit to make these. Now for the water delivery
pipe. Begin by cutting one end of your plastic pipe at a 45-degree angle like this. This will allow the water to freely flow
from the pipe into the reservoir without getting blocked. Cut the top end so it
stands clear of the final soil level. Now cut a hole into the bottom of the
top bucket so the pipe can pass into the reservoir. Make sure it’s snug fit by
tracing the outline then cutting to size. The top bucket will need some drainage
holes for healthy root growth. Drill lots of quarter-inch or 5mm holes
into its base. You can go for a random pattern or an
orderly effects such as this. Stack the top bucket into the bottom bucket, then
mark off using a pen where the top buckets sits. Remove the top bucket and drill a quarter-inch (5mm)
hole into the bottom bucket just below this line. This will serve as an overflow hole, so the potting soil in the top bucket never gets waterlogged. It also removes any guesswork from
filling the reservoir – just stop when the water starts to drain
out from the overflow. Now it’s time to assemble the container. Insert the top bucket into the bottom
bucket. Fill the wicking chamber with potting soil, firming it in for good contact, then slot the chamber snugly into its
hole. Slide the water delivery pipe into place, pointy end down. Fill the top bucket with
potting soil, moistening with water as you fill. You can plant several plants into the top bucket
according to their spacing requirements, or set one plant such as a tomato at
the center. This allows you to cover up the
remaining soil surface, which will reduce evaporation – especially important in
hotter climates. Use a lid for this, cutting appropriate holes to accommodate the plant and the pipe. Alternatively you can use a thick garbage bag, secured at the sides with rubber bands, a bungee cord, or string. You could also add a shallow ring of
organic fertilizer around the plant. The moist potting soil will gradually draw
the nutrients down into the soil to feed the plant’s roots. This is a fantastically elegant solution
to daily watering, and you can always add additional self-watering containers as time allows. Please share your tips for self-watering
plants by just dropping us a comment below, and for more practical projects such as this,
make sure you’re subscribed to our video channel. I’ll catch you next time. [Music]

58 thoughts on “How to Make a Self-Watering Plant Pot

  1. From your experience, how long does it take before it's dried out? Or adding water just once will be enough for the season?

  2. im gonna use this method next year because im gonna plant a lot of plants next year and they take a lot of time to water them all and the idea is great ^_^
    but i have to say i do quite enjoy watering my plants

  3. This really seems overly difficult and the container is really aesthetically unattractive. Wish their was a better way??

  4. Nice video , Please check out my youtube channel for some loverly organic gardening 🙂 love the stacking with the pots never thought about using them

  5. Nicely done video. I made these and they are great. I even made seed starting containers with a plastic bottle cut in half, turn the top upside down put in a wicking cord(I used a shoelace) thru a hole in the cap fill top with soil and plant, fill bottom res. w/ water.

  6. The only negative thing about this is the fact that in two weeks time or less the bottom part of the container will start to rot, and smell very bad

  7. Give credit to the Buster brothers in Colorado who came up with this planting technique, who did it to combat global hunger. They also have a siphon system setup to connect your buckets together. I've been following them, employing the "Global Bucket System" in areas like Jeremie, Haiti.

  8. excellent video I'm a total beet and kohlrabi fan thanks to my great grandfather who had a plantation of beets in Europe that my grandfather brought to America yummm

  9. i use cut off fallen branches sizes that can fit in the bucket and leaves instead of the potting cups to support the upper bucket, it degrades into a tea compost for the plant. i use rags to wick the soil, it degrades over time. your idea of an extra cup to wick is better. i also use some buckets that doesn't have overflow holes, i just remove the upper bucket when there's too much water during rain in an effort to conserve the collected water.

  10. I did this and the roots all tied up at the bottom and killed the plant. I think it might be best to leave off the top rim to allow water to the surface like nature intended.

  11. Very good video & idea! This is so practical with having many plants & sometimes lack of time to stay on top of them! Thank you!

  12. Nice video. I would make one suggestion though. If you live in a hot climate (or where the pot gets a lot of sun), I would suggest using a light colored container. Definitely not black…unless you want to cook your roots.

  13. water filled vodka bottle upside down in soil. boom, done. motha naytcha does all the water leaching and gravitational work for yah

  14. I liked your tips very much but can you make a small self watering system to keep plants healthy and don't take much space.It would be grateful if you to do that.

  15. Brilliant. Live in humid NC. How easily stuff can die when not watering for even a day during hot times.

  16. Some of the problems I ran into is that the reservoir is full of algae, and sometimes I find slugs crAwl inside the overflow hole. Do you have any suggestions? Also someone mentioned they to drill the overflow hole half an inch or so below where the top bucket sits. This will leave a bit of air above the water level and allows the roots in the top bucket to air prune. I have not tried this but it seems to make sense.

  17. My concern is that in Countries like India where the temperature can go up to 49 degree Celsius , won't the plastic buckets end up booking the plant itself.

  18. thank you, I might try it this summer, but with light coloured containers (greek summers mean scorching sun and 35-40°C!!) and a mosquito "protection" 🙂

  19. I love this, but in my area it'd be better to cover the overflow hole with cloth and tape, and the pipe with cloth and a rubber band to keep mosquitoes out of the standing water.

  20. Great idea, would this system keep tomato, pepper and chili plants moist for 7 days in a hot UK summer (if we get one) ?

  21. Thank u.

    Looks awesome.

    Does the soil actually wick up the water tho?

    Can u post a link of a video showinq proqress or showin the system workinq successfully please?

    Please reply soon.

  22. I really like this video I mean to find ideas of how to make a gravity-fed system for a whole Greenhouse and this has made so many ideas for me to sketch out.

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