7 Most Common Problems With Self Watering Pots

House plants require a lot of attention to be in the best shape. Watering is the primary responsibility, which can be difficult for many to keep up with. The solution for this slight trouble is getting a self-watering pot.

As their name implies, these pots ensure your plants receive adequate water. With such an accessory, you do not have to worry about constantly watering your plants. However, these pots have a few issues. So, what are the common problems with self watering pots? The most common problems with self-watering pots are unsuitability for some plants, relatively costly, prone to fungus gnats, a breeding ground for mosquitoes, prone to waterlogging, and toxic mineral buildup.

Before getting this utility, it would help to know the setbacks to expect from them. We take an in-depth look at these pots and their drawbacks.

Problems With Self Watering Pots

While self-watering pots are efficient for keeping plants, you may encounter some drawbacks. Let us look at the issues you will likely meet with this plant pot.

They Are Relatively Pricey

Self-watering pots are pricier than regular pots. The cost may be prohibitive to many people, especially the advanced types with several features. Nevertheless, it is a reliable house add-on that performs well. While there are affordable selections, they may be of low quality and will quickly get damaged. 

A Breeding Ground for Mosquitoes

The water reservoir makes an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes. These insects lay eggs in stagnant water, like the one in the planter. The mosquitoes become a nuisance after they hatch, as they feed on human blood. You risk contracting diseases like malaria, yellow fever, dengue, and Zika virus from these insects.

You can keep mosquitoes away from the self-irrigation kit by transferring the plant indoors. This may not always work, as the insect may move indoors too. A repellent sprayed around the plant can do you justice. Alternatively, go for planters with an enclosed design to prevent mosquito access.

It Is Unsuitable for Some Plants

Sub-irrigation pots are not suitable for all plants, especially succulents and large plants. Succulents do not need constant watering, as they have plenty of water. You risk overwatering them if you place them in these planters.

Large plants have complex root systems that the pots cannot accommodate. A drip system is the best way to water such plants for extended periods.

The Risk of Fungus Gnats

Still, on the problems with self watering pots, you will have to contend with fungus gnats, a menace to house plants. They are fruit fly-sized insects that seek moist soil where they lay eggs. Fungus gnat larvae mainly feed on soil’s organic matter, but they can diversify their diet to eat plant roots. 

Self-irrigating pots always have moist substrates due to the constant water supply. The pests may heavily infest the planter, leading to plant death. 

Algae and Fungi Infestation

The moist earth and damp conditions encourage fungus and algae growth. Algae might outcompete the potted plant for resources like water and nutrients. 

Fungi can affect various plant parts, including the stem, leaves, and roots. A severe fungal infection will overwhelm the plant, and it may perish. 

Even if you are not watering the plant regularly, you should still check on it. Routine checkups will help you identify an algae or fungi problem and control it promptly before it gets out of hand.

The Risk of Waterlogging

One of the common problems with self watering pots is the risk of waterlogging. It is easy to oversaturate your planter with water, especially if it lacks an indicator. The hiked water levels affect air exchange by limiting the oxygen supply to the roots and carbon dioxide elimination. The root’s functionality will cease, and the plant might die. 

Waterlogging may also affect soil nutrients, pH, and temperatures. A drastic shift in these soil parameters can be fatal to the plant. 

Be keen on signs of waterlogging, such as browning leaves, non-selective shedding of leaves, and mushy plant base. Sort out the trouble promptly for the potted vegetation’s health. 

Toxic Mineral Buildup

Plants need minerals for various physiological processes, but an excess supply can be toxic. The toxic mineral buildup comes from unabsorbed minerals, which become soluble salts when dissolved in water. The excess minerals in the water will affect the flora’s health.

Tips on How To Avoid Problems With Self-Watering Planters

The issues with self-watering planters can worsen your experience with potted plants. This should not be the situation if you rely on the following tips.

Understand Your Plants

Understand your plants’ watering needs before getting the micro-irrigation kit. Some plants need a lot of water to thrive, but some, like succulents and cacti, only require a little; thus, no need to get a watering kit. A watering kit is unsuitable for large plants or those with extensive root systems. 

Get a Kit with an Indicator

When shopping for a sub-irrigation planter, you should look for one with an indicator and other extra features. The indicator helps you to identify the water levels in the reservoir and avoid overwatering. Also, go for kits with extras like an overflow snout and a plugged drainage hole.

Regular Inspection

The self-watering pot only saves you from daily watering rather than general plant maintenance. The pot is not a set-and-forget system. If you ignore the plant, you might find it plagued with fungi, algae, or insects. 

Regular checkups identify problems with the kit, like water saturation. Fast action against the mentioned hitches will hasten their elimination. Probe the kit for any damages or if the wick needs replacement.

How Do Self Watering Planters Work?

As a first-time user of a self-watering pot, you may be curious about its functionality. It is easier to understand how the planter works by focusing on its parts.

Parts of a Self-Watering Pot

The self-watering kit looks like a typical plant pot but has several layers. The growing bed is the planter’s upper section that contains the soil or growing medium. The media can be rocks or other substrates that allow water entry and promote oxygen circulation for the plants’ health.

The lower section consists of the water reservoir. A wick system connects the water reservoir to the growing bed. The wick is a highly absorbent material, such as a thick rope, which relays water to the upper sections. An overflow mechanism allows excess water to drain to prevent water-logging. 

Some pots may have extra features like an indicator to show the reservoir’s water levels and a fill tube for pouring in water. 

Self-watering planters have a drainage hole with a plug. You pull the plug to release the water after a planting season.

Working Principles

How do self watering pots work? The working principle of this pot is absorption or capillary action. Some planters have a wick system, which operates through absorption. The wick’s material is highly absorbent and can be nylon, cotton, felt, or microfiber. The material should be sturdy to prevent rotting. 

The wick takes water from the reservoir and passes it to the soil on the growing bed. You can use as many wicks as possible for large pots. 

The other type of self-watering pot lacks a wick and uses soil as a water transport medium. Also known as wicking pots, they come in several designs and work based on capillary action. The water molecules stick to each other via cohesion and to different molecules via adhesion. The attraction leads to water going up the soil.  

Are Self Watering Pots Good?

Self-watering pots have several benefits, such as saving on watering time. With the reservoir filled to a decent level, you don’t have to worry about regularly watering your plants. You can fill up the reservoir once every three weeks instead of daily. The frequency depends on the plant type and the sunlight it receives.

This planter encourages nutrient retention due to its closed design. The nutrients will not leach, a common issue with typical planters. 

Self-watering plant pots help retain water. You don’t use or lose a lot of water to maintain plants, which is suitable in arid areas. They also offer sufficient water, minimizing the risk of wilted plants.

So, Should You Use Self-watering Pots?

Self-watering pots are excellent additions that save your plant from dehydration if you forget to water them. They are ideal for flora with a high-water intake.

Problems with self watering pots include attracting pests, waterlogging, and fungi infestation. You can avert these snags by maintaining the kit and regulating the water and fertilizer supply.