Plants are becoming more and more a part of design professionals’ final plans for their clients — not an afterthought. The benefits of plants outweigh the potential issues that can arise. Plants are an investment that, unfortunately, you can’t put into the corner like a comfy club chair. Plants need attention; your attention, otherwise you will be investing much more than anticipated.
Each plant has its specific requirements for soil, nutrients, light exposure, and water. For example, succulents need a very different water regiment than a dracaena. How does a plant caregiver discern what is needed?
One solution is turning your planter or pot into a self-watering planter by adding a water sipper. This solution saves water and time.
Do Self-Watering Planters Really Work?
From personal experience, I can confidently say they do. As the co-owner of PureModern, I use our products in our personal home. Having the ollie plant sipper in our planters has contributed to having healthy plants.
The roots that grow into the ground take more of the water and nutrients that the plant needs than the leaves and stem.
The root’s anatomy consists of three major parts: the meristem, the zone of elongation, and the zone of maturation.
The epidermis, the outside of the root, similar to the human epidermis, absorbs water and nutrients, and specifically for plants, the root hairs. Because soil is a weaker solution than the root hair cells, the water is taken up, which is known as osmosis. In a plant’s case, the root hairs have a higher solute level than the soil, so any water in the soil will be driven to the root hair and pulled up.
Osmosis is the reason that self-watering pots work.
How Do Self-Watering Pots Work?
When looking for a self-watering pot, we suggest the pots have at least the following features.
Parts and Common Features
Sufficient void space to allow adequate growth of roots
A way for excess water to drain if the pot is in a location where it could be exposed to rain
A space where water can sit in a reservoir and not be contaminated by the growth medium and the root hairs will not sit in
A way for the growing root hairs to reach the water
An opening that is big enough to pour water from a vessel into the reservoir
A way to know when the reservoir is empty and when it has been filled adequately
Once the planter is filled, the plants will reach their roots to the tank and take up the water by osmosis.
See it in action...
How Do You Fill a Self-Watering Planter
A self-watering planter is one that is not hooked to a sprinkler system or drip system and requires water to be added manually. Most self-watering planters have an indicator that indicates that the planter needs more water.
Once you know that the planter needs water, there is a tube that is exposed above the soil or in a position where a jug of water can be used to pour water into the watering system. Nutrients can also be added at the same time as the water.
If your pot is not going to be undercover and is also exposed to rain or snow, the planter should have drainage holes. This ensures that your plants are not overwatered.
To fill the planter, follow these basic steps. The steps to filling a self-watering planter are similar to a non-self watering planter.
Make sure the planter is level and elevated above the area it is sitting on to prevent condensation.
Add a filler that is not biodegradable if the planter is considerably larger than the space needed for the plant to grow.
Place landscape fabric to separate the filler from the soil and allow excess water from a possible over-saturated soil to leave the roots.
Add about 6 inches of soil. Make sure the soil you use is appropriate for the plant. Then, tamp down, add more soil, and repeat.
Add a plant sipper.
Add the plant, more soil, and then wet the soil.
Leave about an inch of space between the top of the soil and the top of the planter
It is unlikely that a self-watering planter will cause root rot.
Root rot is caused when the plant has been overwatered and the excess water doesn’t have a place to go — such as in the bottom of the pot away from the roots or out a drainage hole. The plant’s roots aren’t allowed to flourish because oxygen is no longer able to surround the roots.
Root rot can also be caused by bacteria or fungus that might have been present in the soil being used to grow the plant.
Our suggestion is to ensure that a high-grade type of potting soil is being used, specially made for planters, as it will be lighter with more air pockets.
Turn Any Planter Into a Self-Watering Planter
Interested in capitalizing on the innate abilities of plants to determine how much water they need?
Add a plant sipper, like the Ollie Plant Sipper.
This product has a reservoir with a tube that is visible above the soil level and can be used in any planter. There are a few sizes to choose from, so you can ensure that the plant sipper will fit your planter.
When adding greenery to your commercial space, the benefits should outweigh the drawbacks.
The benefits of greenery are apparent. However, knowing how to best take care of these plants when you are not present is another matter. Having real plants in your space comes with the obligatory activities of fertilizing, watering, trimming, and replanting.
Our suggestion is to answer the following questions before adding planters and foliage to a space:
Do we plan to use real or faux plants?
What do we use for a top dressing if the plants do not hide the top of the soil?
Who is going to ensure that the plants are being properly watered and fertilized?
Who is going to ensure the plants look good?
The watering plan is just one part of taking care of foliage, and having Ollie Plant Sippers will ensure that the plants will thrive. Click here to select the plant sipper that fits your planter.
Amy Gustafson is the Vice President at PureModern. She spreads the word about PureModern and educates customers on planters, fire features, and much more.
About the author.