Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Monday, February 25, 2013

Self-Watering Planters

Last week I wrote about those tree-watering bags and some concerns I have with them, including root rot. Today I want to discuss some concerns I have about "self-watering" planter, and using saucers under your outdoor planters. You have probably seen these "all-in-one," "self-watering" or "water reservoir" pot systems for your outdoor potted plants.  Planters dry out quickly and these products are supposed to be labor saving and supply a steady amount of water to the potted plant. They do this, but there is a real problem with these products:  they often keep the soil too moist, inviting fungal disease, especially root rot.  Root rot will either kill or weaken the plant.  Have you ever had a potted plant up and die, only to find weak, rotted or few roots in the pot when you tipped it out? This is probably root rot.

Plastic saucers under plants pots, especially deep ones, can do the same.  Many people use saucers to protect their decks, but they often hold too much water near the root zone of the plant, with bad results.

There are a few conditions I might use these types of pots: for hanging plants, which are subject to greater air-drying than pots on the ground, and window boxes (ditto).  But these pots are often pricey.  I would rather mulch my pots, make sure I was using a good quality potting mix and water often in hot weather.

Happy gardening!

1 comment:

Anita said...

This post reminds me of the days long ago when I used to put semi-large rocks in the bottom of the pots before adding soil and the indoor plant. Was that really helping to keep the roots from being soaked? I'm sure there was a dish, too.