Your newly-potted plants look so healthy in their planter, and you’re happily looking forward to enjoying the bounty of produce or blossoms- until the watering problems start. Maybe you forgot to give your plants a drink for too long, or perhaps you were a little overzealous in your watering.
Has this happened to you? Don’t feel bad! I’ve certainly had this sad experience, and pretty much anyone who’s grown a plant in their life has had at least a few horticultural fatalities along the way. And most commonly, improper watering is the primary cause of death.
So why not take some of the pressure off of yourself? With their clever construction that retains excess water and lets your plant absorb it at their own pace, self-watering pots can literally be a lifesaver.
Today, we’ll look at 17 of our top picks for best self-watering planters. You’ll also learn how these smart planters work, some troubleshooting tips and answers to common questions.
Let’s get started!
Best Indoor Self-Watering Planters
1. Gardenix Decor 7-Inch Self Watering Planters
**Best Overall Indoor Planter
This set of three self-watering pots from Gardenix offers a strong combination: A clean, simple look and an effective design.
These pots have a two-piece construction that consists of an outer shell and an inner pot. The outer shell houses the reservoir, and the elevated inner pot keeps the bulk of your plant’s roots elevated above the water level. As a result, your plant stays properly hydrated without getting water-logged.
To refill your reservoir, either add water directly into the soil or lift the inner pot to pour water into the reservoir. But if you choose the latter option, you may struggle to remove the inner pot without jostling your plant.
Depending on your specific plant’s needs, this pot’s reservoir holds enough water for up to 10 days! What’s more, an upright water gauge gives you a clear view of the water level at all times.
Along with your planters, you also receive a hockey puck-like pellet of coconut coir. With the addition of a little water, this pellet morphs into a fluffy mass that transmits moisture to your plant’s roots while also providing healthy aeration.
Whether you prefer neutral colors or bolder shades, you should find one you like among 5 color options:
- Gray (pictured)
- Terra cotta
- Elevated inner pot design prevents root rot
- Great choice of colors
- Coconut coir provides excellent aeration and drainage
- Waters plants for up to 10 days
- Can be hard to remove the inner pot
2. Santino 11.8 Inch Self Watering Planter
Using the standard two-piece construction of an elevated inner pot and an outer shell, this planter from Santino keeps your plant hydrated and healthy.
One feature we really like is the water level indicator on the lower edge. Instead of trying to remember when you last watered your plants and guessing at the water level, just take a glance at your planter!
Santino offers this pot in your choice of nine colors, and you can also decide if you want one large pot (like what we’ve featured here) or a set of three smaller ones. And if you need more size options, don’t worry: This pot is available in sizes ranging from 7.1 inches to 12.6 inches.
One area that may present a problem is the refilling process. Once you’ve filled your inner pot with soil and a plant, it’s hard to remove it to put more water in the reservoir. This means that you’ll have to refill your reservoir by watering from the top. Thankfully, the water level indicator window keeps you flying completely blind here.
Best Windowsill Self-Watering Planters
3. GardenBasix Elongated Self Watering Planter Pots
**Best Overall Windowsill Planter
If you’re looking to go beyond the basic round planter, this rectangular option from GardenBasix is a perfect fit for maximizing window space.
The planter has a perforated inner pot that sits above the lower reservoir, letting the roots grow down into the water. Your planter also includes coconut coir potting mix, which wicks the water from the reservoir and into the soil.
Refilling your planter is a breeze with a water inlet port that leads directly to the reservoir. No need to disturb your plants or give too much water to species that prefer dry conditions! A handy water level indicator also lets you see at a glance if it’s time to refill.
At 16 inches long and 5.5 inches wide, you have enough space to plant a windowsill herb garden or have a nice array of small house plants.
However, this planter is too small for plants that are larger or have extensive root systems.
4. Vanavazon 6-Inch Self Watering Planter Pots
This set of three self-watering planters makes the perfect coordinated plant grouping to green up your windowsill!
Instead of the raised platform watering system we’ve seen in the planters so far, these pots use a cotton rope as an on-demand water delivery wick mechanism. Only the rope stays in the water, and the absorbent material wicks water from the reservoir and transfers it into the soil.
Another clever feature is the water inlet port that makes refilling your planters a breeze. When fully filled, the reservoir holds enough water to sustain your plants for up to a week. And you’ll never struggle to guess whether you need to add water thanks to the clear plastic reservoir.
The simple white upper pot looks clean and modern without being a distraction. And if you prefer, these planters are also available in dark gray.
The only downside we can point out is that the upper and lower compartments fit together very tightly and can be hard to separate. However, you’ll probably only run into this issue when you want to clean the reservoir.
- Easy to monitor the water level
- Cotton wicking system prevents root rot
- Easy to refill reservoir without disturbing your plant
- Minimalist, modern look
- Separating the two pieces can be a challenge
RELATED: What if the only windowsill you have for plants faces north? Is that enough light for houseplants? Yes! Visit our post on plants that thrive in soft lighting to see what you can grow on your north windowsill!
Best Budget Self-Watering Planters
5. HBServices Self Watering + Self Aerating Planter
**Best Overall Budget Planter
This option from HBServices is your standard planter with a couple of very smart design upgrades. This planter features 3 pieces:
- An upper pot with elevated legs and a slatted bottom
- A lower water reservoir tray
- A clip-on watering attachment
The upper pot’s slatted bottom allows roots to grow downwards into the water, and the elevated legs prevent the soil from becoming water-logged. If you need to travel or just want to reduce your watering chores, this planter is perfect: The reservoir tray can hold enough water to last up to 2 weeks!
A very helpful addition is the watering spout on the lower tray. This little piece snaps into place and allows you to easily add water without having to soak your soil or take the pot apart.
Color choices are black (pictured), white, blue, green and plum. We’ve featured the 6-inch size here, but HBSerivces also offers this pot in 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch sizes.
One downside is the fairly large gap between the upper pot and the lower tray. Even though this gap serves to allow for healthy airflow, the look of it may be off-putting to some people.
- Convenient watering attachment
- Exceptional reservoir capacity
- Multiple color and size options
- Excellent airflow to plant roots
- Noticeable amount of space between the lower tray and main pot
6. Bloem 16-Inch Ariana Self Watering Planter
When all you want is a simple self-watering planter without all the extra bells and whistles, the Ariana pot from Bloem fills the bill!
Bloem uses a simple elevated platform to do the self-watering work, and set-up is a breeze. After placing the tray and filling the planter with potting mix and plants, water through the soil and let the excess water collect in the lower reservoir for later use.
One of the best aspects about the Ariana planter is the variety of sizes and colors to choose from. The one you see in the photo is the 16-inch size in the color peppercorn. Other sizes include:
There is a rainbow of color options, running the gamut from white to teal to bold orange. However, each size is only available in certain colors, so you may not be able to get your favorite shade in the size you need.
Best Self-Watering Planters for Vegetables and Herbs
7. Aerogarden Harvest Indoor Garden
**Best Overall Vegetable/Herb Planter
I have an Aerogarden set up in my basement, and I love using it. Using the principles of hydroponics, you can grow a fresh harvest of herbs, flowers and small vegetable plants no matter the weather outside.
The bottom of the tank is a large water reservoir that allows your plants free access to however much water they need to thrive. Indicator lights let you know when you need to refill the water tank or add a dose of plant food. Depending on what you’re growing, you may only need to add water once a week.
And not only is watering a breeze, getting your plants started is too. Pre-seeded Aerogarden pods fit right into the opening on the tank; just set them in, fill the tank with water and let the system take over.
Aerogarden offers an extensive line of planters in various sizes, but the Harvest option we’re looking at here is the most popular. It’s perfect for a countertop or anywhere you’ve got space. With the built-in LED light, you don’t even need to have a sunny window to grow your plants.
The only drawback is that this system relies on electricity to run the water pump and LED lights. If you’re in an area that experiences frequent power outages, that may be something to keep in mind.
8. KETER Urban Bloomer 12.7 Gallon Raised Garden Bed
Keter offers a few options for large-scale self-watering planters, and this one has a great combination of stylish form and reliable function.
You’ll find the self-watering feature at the bottom of the planting tray, in the form of two long, narrow depressions. Water thoroughly through the soil, and the excess water collects in the reservoir, ready for your plants to soak up as needed.
Even though it may seem like you’re watering blindly, the helpful water level indicator provides you with some much-needed guidance. Shaped like a cute sprout, the indicator is green on the top and red on the bottom.
If you can see any of the red, you’ve added too much water, so open the drainage plug and let some out. When your green sprout sinks low, it’s time to refill!
The generously sized planting box measures 32.3 inches long and 14.7 inches wide. This should give you enough room to fit several herb plants and a few larger ones like peppers or greens.
You also get a helpful seed-starting tray that easily lifts out when it’s time to transfer your seedlings into the deeper soil.
Best Large Capacity Self-Watering Planters
9. Lechuza Cubico Self-Watering Garden Planter
**Best Overall Large Capacity Planter
If you’re looking for a spacious, bold planter for your mature plants, the Cubico from Lechuza may be your answer!
As one of the leading brands of self-watering planters, Lechuza relies on a dual system of an elevated platform and a specialized planting substrate.
This substrate contains ingredients that wick the moisture from the reservoir and deliver it to your plant’s roots. With your purchase of a Lechuza planter, you also receive enough substrate to fill your container.
The Cubico comes in three color choices: Slate (pictured), nutmeg and white. All three have an attractive matte finish that adds a touch of extra style.
Lechuza also offers the Cubico in three size options (we’re looking at the largest one here.) The reservoir is large enough to hold over 7 liters of water, and you could be looking at up to 12 weeks between refills.
However, since this planter has a tall profile, you may be looking at a tipping hazard if you pair it with a tall plant. This is especially true if you plan to use the planter in an area that gets a lot of wind.
10. Jaxpety Raised Planter Box Garden Bed
Made from food-safe, recycled plastic, this planter set from Jaxpety offers eco-friendly function and a touch of style.
The self-watering feature is a reservoir system at the bottom of each planter. Water your plants through the soil, and the excess water drains down for your plants to soak up later.
Each planter measures 15 inches long, 15 inches wide and stands 16 inches tall. All told, you’re getting quite a bit of growing area!
One thing that we really love about this set is the modular construction. Place the planters individually around your yard, in a square shape or even stack one on top of another. Let your creativity run wild and tailor your garden to the space you have to work with.
Besides having a clever design, the dark brown color and rattan pattern also add a touch of style. However, make sure to have a screwdriver and a little time on hand to attach the legs.
Best Outdoor Self-Watering Planters
11. Glowpear Self-Watering Urban Garden Planter
**Best Overall Outdoor Planter
A few things that immediately stand out about this planter are its modern, clean lines, angular shape and bright white color. But besides just good looks, this planter boasts convenient, plant-friendly features.
The large reservoir holds 3.5 gallons of water, and the clip-on overflow trays catch any extra water if you happen to overfill it a bit. You’ll know when it’s time to top off your reservoir thanks to a water level indicator that pops up from the planter wall.
Add water through the soil itself or use the water inlet port. The water port has a handy hinged opening that prevents soil from getting in the reservoir by accident.
At 29.5 inches long and just shy of 19 inches wide, you’ve got a nice amount of space for herbs, vegetable plants or flowers. And standing 19.7 inches tall, your plants are conveniently off the ground. Also, the legs offer excellent stability, so you don’t need to worry about your planter tipping over.
Although this is a stylish option with smart features, the high price point can be a potential drawback. The good news is that if you’re pressed for money or space, Glowpear also offers this same self-watering system in various smaller styles.
12. Lechuza Cube Cottage Self-Watering Garden Planter
Another Lechuza product, this planter offers a smart self-watering system that gets a little extra style boost from its shape and subtle pattern.
Like the Lechuza Cubico we looked at earlier, the Cube Cottage style uses a two-piece system, specialized planting substrate and a water level indicator.
But one thing that’s different with the Cube Cottage is that it also has a full-size inner layer with sturdy, easy-grasp handles. This can come in handy when it’s time to empty your planter at the end of the growing season.
With its stable square shape, you don’t have to worry about your plants tipping over, and the strong polypropylene plastic material can stand up to harsh sunlight and heat.
This planter comes in three color options:
- Granite (pictured)
All color options also have the same textured wicker pattern.
The Cube Cottage also comes in three sizes: 12-inch, 16-inch and 20-inch.
Depending on the plant you intend to place in this pot, you may not be able to take full advantage of the self-watering feature right away. Young plants with small root systems may not be long enough to reach the water reservoir, and you’ll have to water them from the top down for at least a few weeks.
Best Self Watering Hanging Planters
13. Sungmor Self Watering Hanging Planters
**Best Overall Hanging Planter
These gleaming white hanging baskets from Sungmore have a clean, minimalist appeal that looks great with any plant’s foliage or blossoms. Your hanging planter comes with an elevated insert piece that holds your plant safely above the waterline.
Small holes in the insert let the roots reach down into the water, soaking it up as needed. Each pot has a small hole in the side, about 3/4 of an inch above the bottom edge. Why? These holes actually serve a dual purpose:
- A direct-watering port
- An overflow escape
We love the concept of adding water through the port, but this will only work if you use a watering can with a very thin spout. This little watering can from Brilliest is a good option.
The overflow outlet is really helpful for preventing overwatering. Just make sure to use extra care to avoid a mess when watering your indoor plants!
A network of three 23-inch chains keeps your plants securely suspended and easy to see. Unfortunately, there’s no way to adjust the chain length.
- Dual watering port/overflow outlet hole
- White color won’t detract from your plant’s beauty
- Strong metal hanging chains
- Perfect for indoor or outdoor use
- Chains are not easily adjustable
14. MyGift 7-Inch Wall Mountable Self Watering Planter Pots
A departure from the typical hanging basket, these little planters have a versatile design that looks great on any vertical surface.
Even though the pots appear to be round, they actually have a flat back panel. This allows them to lay perfectly flush against the wall, fence or wherever you want to place them. Thanks to sturdy plastic, you can use these pots indoors or outdoors.
These pots use a simple design that consists of an outer and an inner layer, with the outer layer housing the water reservoir.
The self-watering feature comes in the form of a cotton string that draws water up from the reservoir and feeds it into the soil. When it’s time to add water, lift the inner layer out to refill the reservoir in the outer pot.
This might sound like a finicky process, but the inner layer has a wide lip that makes it easy to lift out.
The inner pot has is 5.7 inches in diameter, so you should be able to fit a variety of small houseplants, large succulents or groupings of small succulents. However, you’ll need a more spacious planter for larger plants.
15. Foraineam 2-Pack Hanging Basket Planters
This set of 2 hanging baskets from Foraineam looks great and keeps you from having to water your dry plants multiple times per day.
The inner black basket is a separate piece, and it sits on three legs. This design allows excess water to pool at the base of the outer pot, saving it for later but also keeping your plant roots safely elevated.
One nice style touch is the attractive basketweave pattern, and the neutral silver-gray color looks great against any backdrop. You also have the option to use the included rubber drainage plug if you want to hang your plants inside the house.
This set includes both a 10.2-inch and an 8.2-inch basket, and the hanging chains add an extra style upgrade from basic plastic. However, you’ll have to attach the chains to your baskets yourself, and the process can be a bit tricky at first.
- Lovely silver-gray color and basket-like pattern
- Sturdy suspension chains
- Perfect for indoor or outdoor use
- Set includes two different sizes
- Attaching the chains can be a little challenging
Best Ceramic Self-Watering Planters
16. Atri African Violet Ceramic Self Watering Pot
**Best Overall Ceramic Planter
Even though this planter is billed as a pot for African Violets (and it is wonderful for them!), you can use this for any houseplant or outdoor plant that likes consistently moist soil.
This planter comes as a 2-piece set. The inner unglazed pot is made of highly absorbent clay, and the outer pot has a lovely rounded shape and glossy glazed finish. And the neutral cream color looks great against your plant’s vivid greenery.
To use the pot, fill the inner pot with moistened potting soil and add your plant. Then fill the outer pot up halfway and set the inner pot inside, and the soil will absorb water through its porous walls.
The reservoir holds quite a bit of water, and you should be able to go about a week between refills.
One drawback to point out is simply a limitation of the material: Ceramic is delicate, and this pot is quite breakable.
17. Willow and Muse Ceramic Head Planter Pot
If you love the convenience of a self-watering planter that doubles as a fun, quirky accent piece, this is the one for you! And the fact that it’s ceramic is an added bonus.
The self-watering reservoir is in the narrow bottom section of the pot. The upper portion contains a plastic inner pot and an absorbent wick system to keep your plant happily hydrated.
Setting up the self-watering feature is easy. Wet the wick, thread it through the bottom of the inner plastic pot then add soil and your plant. To refill your reservoir, lift the inner pot out and pour water in.
One thing that’s really nice about this pot is that the face design is just prominent enough to look interesting without appearing garish.
One potential concern is the narrow base, which could lead to some instability. This shouldn’t be as much of a concern when the reservoir is filled with water, but when it’s empty, the planter may become top-heavy. It might be a good idea to place this planter where it’s not in danger of accidentally getting bumped.
How Do Self Watering Pots Work?
Self watering planters work by using a large reservoir to hold excess water and then disperse it over time as the plant requires it.
There are two main ways that water can travel from the reservoir to the plant:
- Through a wicking system
- Through a passive system
Wicking systems use capillary action to deliver water to the soil. The wick itself is cotton material or another super-absorbent blend. When you expose the ends of the material to water, surface tension and the force of adhesion cause the water to travel up the wick and into the soil, where your plant’s roots can then absorb it.
Passive systems rely on your plant’s own roots to reach into the water reservoir and absorb the water directly.
Wicking systems work for plants of any size, but they’re an especially great choice for younger or smaller ones since they have a built-in water delivery system. On the other hand, you can put smaller plants in a passive self watering pot, but you may have to water them from the top until their roots are long enough to tap the reservoir water.
Potential Problems with Self Watering Pots
Even though self watering planters are great for convenience and reducing the reducing the “oops” factor when it comes to watering plants, they can carry a couple of hazards.
People who run into trouble with a self watering pot usually have one of these two common complaints:
- Attracts bugs
- Algae growth
Here’s what you can do to avoid these bug and fungus issues and how to address them if they’ve already cropped up.
Preventing and Treating Insects
For indoor self watering containers, fungus gnats are likely to be behind your bug problems. These tiny insects love damp conditions, and they often seem to appear out of literal thin air.
According to the University of California, the good news is that fungus gnats are no danger to your health. (But take it from me- they’re definitely annoying!) The bad news is that their larvae can damage your plants roots, leading to slowed growth or even death in young plants.
If your planter is outside, mosquitos are the greater danger. Besides just leaving you with an itchy welt for a few days, mosquito-borne diseases can be serious.
Be it indoors or outdoors, your strategies for dealing with bugs are the same:
- Do not allow water to stagnate. If your plant takes more than a few days to absorb all the water in the reservoir, use less water next time and plan to refill a bit more frequently.
- For smaller planters, wash the outer pot thoroughly once a month. For larger outdoor planters, flush the water out periodically: Fill the reservoir past the point of overflow to force out some of the old water.
- Cover inlet ports and overflow outlets after refilling the reservoir.
Preventing and Treating Algae Growth
Algae craves damp, undisturbed environments to grow in, and self watering planters can supply the perfect home.
While algae in your plant pots isn’t likely to cause you any health problems, a large growth can leach nutrients away from your plant. And it’s just kind of off-putting to look at.
Here’s what you can do to combat algae:
- Keep the water in your planter as fresh as possible. Just like with insects, change out the water every several days.
- Wash outer pot out well, and clean it with 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide diluted in 1 cup of water to kill the algae. Refill with fresh water.
Frequently Asked Questions about Self-Watering Planters
Water is a critical element to any plant’s health. I know first-hand how easy it is to forget when you last watered, and giving too little or too much is almost certain to end badly.
But that doesn’t have to happen to your plants! Options abound when it comes to choosing the best self-watering planters, both in terms of looks and function. And what’s not to love about enjoying healthy, happy plants with less hassle and worry!
We want to hear from you! Have you run into problems with watering your plants properly in the past? Do you have any other self-watering planter suggestions to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!