Subirrigation Of Indoor Houseplants – Self Watering Planter Systems

Self watering planters and indoor watering systems can help in one of the biggest areas we see people having problems in plant care – watering… Usually too much.

Let’s look at a method called SUBIRRIGATION, which can help take the guesswork out of watering houseplants.

Many interior plant professionals (plantscapers) use subirrigation with self watering planters, pots or containers as their preferred method of watering.

Note this system is NOT an automatic indoor plant watering system – but it is as simple as keeping a reservoir filled. Many find watering houseplants from the bottom easier and quicker than top watering.

The result usually comes in improved plant quality and plant health with time being spent on plant care – the physical maintenance, such as grooming, cleaning leaves, etc. instead of watering the plant.

Typically when watering plants from the top down the root ball undergoes quite a bit of stress. The wetting and drying breaks down the soil media. Using subirrigation can help stop these intermittent drought and/or flood conditions. The root ball is kept constantly moist (MOIST not WET). The roots remain healthy as the pores in the soil still hold oxygen.

Some, plantscapers choose subirrigation systems and self watering planters and containers for many reasons such as:

  • Quicker training of new employees on plant watering
  • Less time spent watering plants
  • More time spent on grooming plants
  • More time for “scouting” for pests
  • Longer intervals between plant watering (usually)
  • Less plant stress
  • Easier to water plants with hard to reach access
  • Seasonal plants often hold blooms longer
  • Less opportunity for spills on carpet and furniture
  • Measured amount of water.

There are quite a few self watering pots on the market. Pots for planter beds and freestanding containers.

How Sub Irrigaton and Automatic Indoor Self Watering Containers Work

Water is added to a reservoir; the plant pulls moisture upward through the entire root ball through capillary action, like a sponge. The amount and evenness of the water movement from the subirrigation reservoir to the growing medium depends on the growing medium mix and its degree of compaction and/or breakdown.

Monitoring Your Water


Remember – Subirrigation Systems can Fail

You must monitor the moisture level of the growing medium. Make sure you check at least 2 inches below the soil line. It isn’t uncommon for the top 1 inch of medium to feel dry and below that it is moist. It can be easy to assume the plant needs more water, when it doesn’t.

There are many self watering / subirrigation systems on the market, each one has their pluses and minuses. If you convert over to subirrigation it will take some time for your plants to acclimate to this system, but it is worth it.

It can give you more time to enjoy your house plants and less time carrying water

Tips To Improve Your Plant Care
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