I got a big self watering pot with 3 different plants. After some weeks it got some mold (something like this, but I got it earlier) in it and after trying some stuff in the internet I ended up changing the soil to stop the mold from growing.

In this pot there is a fern, a fittonia and succulent and I'm starting to think the fern is getting too much water.

I also got 3 other self-watering pots. One of them has an oregano, another has a small pepper and the last one has a cherry tomato. The oregano has some leaves with brown tips (I learned here that it might be overwatering), the pepper is not very good as well (some pictures here), and the cherry tomato is not the best either.

I keep all those plants indoors, there is no direct sunlight but there is clarity.

Are those pots viable for this situation? I feel that my plants are getting too much water and the mold seems to be a problem too, but I'm an absolute beginner on this.

Here is a to the pots that I got big one (there is a stack in the video but i only have the bottom one), and the small ones.

As per request, following are some pictures:

Top Side

  • Hi Migore! Would you mind adding a picture or two here of the pot that has the three plants in it, making sure to show a side view of the pot itself? I never heard the term self-watering pot, and even though there's a picture in your other question, since this question is specifically about that type of pot, I think it would be helpful to see one. Thanks! Jan 21 '17 at 22:44
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    How are you filling the pots with water? Are you filling the water reservoir, or watering from above to fill the reservoirs? The latter is not recommended. And are you using a freely draining potting mix, or soil which is also not recommended. Jan 21 '17 at 22:51
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    @GrahamChiu I'm filling the reservoir. I just add water from above when adding nutrients. Im using soil, is there some kind of mix that is ideal for this?
    – Migore
    Jan 22 '17 at 14:05
  • @Sue Done! Added link to videos explaining how to assemble each pot.
    – Migore
    Jan 22 '17 at 14:05
  • Using soil is not recommended as it drains poorly, and you get fungal problems on the surface. You should use a potting mix, and water from below as per my answer even with nutrients. Jan 22 '17 at 14:19

enter link description here

This is my DIY self watering container, or sub irrigation planter, based on Larry Walls ideas. It's a kiddie pool with overflow holes drilled at 2 inches, with two grow bags (one's a Walmart bag used because it purportedly has low lead content) filled with potting mix and some compost. The stones are there to stop mosquitoes breeding.

enter link description here

If you can't get at the reservoir easily, you can install a watering pipe that leads directly to the reservoir so that you avoid watering the soil surface. See top right. I'm not sure why my spouse has placed the drink bottle with ceramic probe there as it's not needed. This planter has an overflow hole so I know when to stop filling it.

enter link description here

This is a commercial self watering pot with a watering tube. It has a float so that you can see the water level at a glance.

The point of a self watering planter is to ensure that the roots always have access to a water source, and you avoid watering the surface which promotes weeds growing, and fungi. So you must use a freely draining soil mix, and not soil which could become water logged causing the issues you see. If you're still seeing mold with the right mix then you haven't got enough ventilation and light to your plants.

  • Very nice! What material are grow bags made of? I want to do some myself.
    – Alina
    Jan 21 '17 at 23:48
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    @Alina the Walmart bags only last a year so I bought some Eco-felt bags from a local supplier as they were on special. Otherwise, I'd just order them from Aliexpress. They're made from recycled drink bottles and should last about 5 years. Jan 21 '17 at 23:52
  • And how often do you water?
    – Alina
    Jan 22 '17 at 0:02
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    @Alina whenever there has been no rain for a few days, then I'll top up the reservoir. I just add water to the rocks and not the soil. Jan 22 '17 at 0:05

I don't like self watering containers either - I've never known one that works efficiently, supplying every plant's needs and no more, they invariably develop fungal problems in the soil, or the plant does. I can see why people buy them, but its not the best way to care for plants.

The other problem is your tomato, pepper and oregano - all three like a lot of sunlight, and they're not getting anything other than bright daylight by the sound of it. With regard to the Fittonia, Fern and unnamed succulent, these plants do not appear to be natural bedfellows, requiring different levels of moisture and possibly soil composition, but a photograph would be useful, if only to determine what the succulent is.

  • I've never seen fungal or plant problems with self watering containers, but I use mine outside. Jan 22 '17 at 2:55
  • @GrahamChiu indoors or out in my experience, but then I live in the damp and chilly UK...
    – Bamboo
    Jan 23 '17 at 0:19
  • Here the average annual relative humidity is 72.9% and average monthly relative humidity ranges from 67% in January to 78% in June. And currently it's about 17 Deg C in mid summer :( Jan 23 '17 at 0:48
  • crikey, sounds worse than London..
    – Bamboo
    Jan 23 '17 at 2:02

I have two selfwatering pots, the grey version of this or this. The images in the links will be enlarged when you point your mouse on them. The problem I had was that the tray and the pot where bound together really well. The tray had a plastic handle at each end that fit closely in the holes at the edges of the pot, making it very difficult to separate in order to put water in the tray because the pot was pretty heavy with soil and plants.

When the tray had some water in it and I was trying to take it out because I didn't know if all of it was consumed by the plants, the water would spill. When I was lucky to have all the water consumed at the moment of taking the tray out, the pot would be shaken pretty hard, and the stems of the plants with it.

This situation has lead me to water the plants from above and both pots started to show mold. The upper soil was dry, but deep inside the pot it was moist, not to mention that I never knew if there was water in the tray.

I had a pot with tulips and another one with basil and I had to throw away all the plants. I don't use these pots together with the trays anymore, only separated. Here is a picture of one of the trays. The pots were sent to somebody who has a garden this winter, that's why I can't take pictures.

enter image description here

  • Added more information on adding a watering tube to my answer. Jan 22 '17 at 0:06

I hate self watering anything to include those stupid gels they put in the potting soil. No way is this going to be better than just being there and being aware and watering when necessary. These pots don't care about the ambient temperature, the humidity, the drainage!! There are ways to deal with automatic watering but only ONLY for vacations. Even irrigation systems lead people to think plants like this autonomous watering. Then to have plants in pots without potting soil medium is just asking for trouble. ALL PLANTS IN POTS can not be watered by rain. PERIOD. My goodness. Never count on rain to water plants in pots. Sure, if you've got a deluge and your soil in your pots is soaked, then YOU make the decision to not water until that soil is dry, the pot when lifted is light!

And what I am seeing are too tiny of plants in too large of pots and soil. Big big problem! What is your soil? Do you have rocks, gravel at the bottom of the soil and above the BIG DRAINAGE HOLES in your 'pots'? Look up perched water tables. Watering is one of the simplest and easiest of all our interactions with our plants. Do not try to automate this otherwise you will be removed from your plants needs which are different from plant to plant.

You have got succulents planted with moisture loving plants (ferns)...how crazy is that? My goodness, those succulents need vastly different watering methods than do the ferns!! Plant like needs in one pot. Moisture lovers or shade lovers or sun lovers or shallow water for shallow rooted plants!! Until someone KNOWS their plants and their needs the last thing they should be doing is anything automated. I am not kidding! We humans try to do automated stuff with cash crops to make more production and we'd better have someone on duty all of the time to ensure those automated instructions are working correctly. The rest of us with plants should never do automated anything!! I am so serious. You have to be aware and vigilant and automation is for making cars not caring for plants!

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    I like self watering pots as I'm often away for a week or two and I don't have to nag my daughter to water my plants! She's let my seed trays go dry killing all my seedlings :( Jan 22 '17 at 1:15
  • My soil is the one that I bought in the flower shop, I didn't know there was a difference between soils until now, I'm a complete beginner. I have rocks at the bottom. When I got those the salesman told me it's fine to have them all together, is it?. Is there a problem if the pot is too big for the plant?
    – Migore
    Jan 22 '17 at 14:14
  • Hey Migore! When growing anything in pots you have to have sterilized potting soil. Whatever the store had, well, most stores do not have plant professionals involved at all. They are only interested in making money not keeping plants alive...and it is all the better when people take them home and the plants die and then those people come back to buy more until they get so frustrated they quit with plants altogether. Repot your pot. Those rocks on the bottom create a perched water table which means all the pore spaces of the soil have to be saturated before the water even begins to move
    – stormy
    Jan 23 '17 at 0:20
  • ...into the rocks to fill those large large pore spaces. Totally undoing any drainage possible. Too saturated of soil equals disease, rot and unhappy plants. Roots have to have air. Well, there are aquatic and semi aquatic plants that can deal with saturated soil and you don't have them. You HAVE to separate the succulent from the fern and polka dot plant. Couldn't have two more different plants in terms of needs!! Shallow, clay pot for the succulent and DO NOT WATER but rarely. Fern and polka dot plant need a smaller pot and the fern would do well with a dome terrarium habitat.
    – stormy
    Jan 23 '17 at 0:27
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    I love self watering planters! Keeps my plants alive and I can spend time on stackexchange rather than water my plants :) Jan 23 '17 at 0:55

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