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Regular vs. Self-watering Pots: Choosing the Best for Your Greenery

3 different plant potssource: bhg.com

Have you ever looked at a wilting plant and wished you could keep it hydrated perfectly? Water is the lifeblood of the plant kingdom, playing a critical role in everything from nutrient uptake to photosynthesis. Getting the watering right, however, can be a delicate dance. Overwatering can lead to root rot while underwatering leaves plants parched and struggling.

There’s good news for plant lovers (or those who are constantly forgetful). The self-watering plant pots offer a potential solution that takes the guesswork out of watering and keeps your plants thriving.

How Self-Watering Containers Work

person pouring water in a self-watering pot
source: shopify.com

Using the innovative and convenient self-watering pots takes the guesswork out of watering by providing a built-in system that delivers water directly to the plant’s roots as needed. Their reservoir is a built-in water basin at the bottom of the planter. It holds a reserve of water that the plant can access. 

Their water-wicking system can be a wicking material (fabric, rope) or a spongey divider that allows water to move from the reservoir to the potting mix. Some planters have a water level indicator window or gauge to help you monitor the reservoir level.

Pros and Cons


  • The constant availability of water minimises the chance of forgetting to water or drowning your plants.
  • Refill the reservoir periodically, and the plant takes care of the rest. Ideal for busy schedules or travel.
  • Consistent moisture levels encourage healthy root development and overall plant health.


  • Self-watering planters are generally more expensive than traditional planters.
  • Selection may be more limited in styles and materials compared to regular planters.
  • Plants with specific watering needs (very dry or very wet) might not thrive in a self-watering system.

Regular Planters

These are planters that come without any built-in watering systems, so they require a more traditional approach to keeping your plants hydrated. Manual watering and drip irrigation systems are the two main methods for watering regular planters. 

Manual watering is the most common method, using a watering can or hose to deliver water to the soil. Drip irrigation systems deliver water slowly and directly to the root zone through tubes and emitters. This method is ideal for larger gardens or container plantings that need frequent watering.


  • Traditional planters are generally much cheaper than self-watering options.
  • You’ll find a wider selection of styles, materials, and sizes to suit your aesthetic preferences and plant needs.
  • By manually watering, you can tailor the watering schedule to the specific needs of each plant.


  • Improper watering habits can easily lead to unhappy plants.
  • Regular watering can be time-consuming, especially for those with many plants.
  • Maintaining consistent moisture levels can be challenging, especially for forgetful plant owners.

Choosing the Right Planter

different planters
source: cdn.com

Now that you understand the pros and cons of both self-watering and regular planters, it’s time to choose the best option for your needs. Here are some key factors to consider.

Plant Necessities 

Different plants have different water requirements. For example, cacti and succulents thrive in drier conditions and might struggle with the constant moisture the self-watering planter provides. On the other hand, plants with large root systems may be cramped in the smaller reservoirs often found in self-watering planters. Matching the watering requirements of your plant to the type of planter is crucial for its health.

Gardener’s Lifestyle

woman gardening
source: punkmed.com

Consider your habits and schedule. If you’re forgetful or travel frequently, a self-watering planter can be a lifesaver, ensuring your plants stay hydrated even when you’re not around. For experienced gardeners who enjoy close control over watering and can readily identify the needs of their plants, regular planters offer more flexibility for adjustments.


Self-watering planters generally come with a higher price tag compared to traditional planters. Consider your budget and how many planters you need. If you’re looking for a cost-effective option for a large collection of plants, regular planters might be the way to go.

Desired Aesthetics

While a self-watering plant pot may offer some variety in design, regular planters typically boast a wider selection of styles and materials. You can find planters to complement any décor, from classic terracotta to sleek modern designs. Don’t underestimate the aesthetic appeal – the right planter can elevate your plants from houseplants to decorative statements.

The Final Takeaway 

Choosing between self-watering and regular planters ultimately depends on your needs and preferences. Self-watering pot planters offer a convenient and low-maintenance solution, ideal for busy schedules, forgetful plant owners, or those who travel frequently. 

The built-in watering system of the self-watering pots provides consistent moisture, minimising the risk of overwatering or underwatering. However, they may not be suitable for all plants and come with a higher cost and potentially limited design options. Regular planters require more hands-on care but offer greater control over watering and a wider variety of styles and materials to suit your taste and budget. 

However, maintaining consistent moisture levels and avoiding overwatering can be a challenge, especially for those with many plants. The key is considering your plant’s needs, lifestyle, and budget. Whether you choose the convenience of self-watering planters and pots or the flexibility of a regular one, with a little planning you can find the perfect planter to help your green thumb flourish.

By Jessie Sanner

Always weighing things, the life of a Libra isn’t easy and that’s something Jessie is well acquainted with as a Libra herself. The confusion with having to choose between things is what helps her write for the blog, in the hope of making it easier for readers who are indecisive themselves. Interested in contrasts, like period dramas and sci-fi, casual and classy outfits, fries and detox shakes, the life of this young lady is anything but boring. Or is it?