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I have a maidenhair fern I'd love to keep alive. I got a Lechuza self-watering pot, and I don't want only one side of the soil to pull up the water. Is it okay to add a few more of my own wicks or will that create root rot?

It seems like they shouldn't... given the science described, once saturated they would stop drawing in water?

I'm a total beginner, please be gentle. It's gardening for idiots with me.

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A self watering pot is about as good a watering system as you can buy. Water will move from a high concentration to a low concentration by itself. You only need one wick and you cannot overwater a plant with a self watering system which is the most common cause of plant problems so you have that one covered.

The other most common problem is not enough light.

  • Inside: maybe 100 lux
  • Outside in bright sun: as much as 100,000 lux.

Put your plant as close to a south window as you can.

There are a few issues with the self watering system which I found when I was maintaining them on a commercial basis.

  • do not let small children play with water float. Once the float is bent or filled with rocks it is hard to tell when the plant needs water
  • getting the plant established in the substrate can take a while so you might have to water from the top until it is established.
  • after a few years a black foul smelling liquid can be created in the anerobic conditions at the bottom of the pot. If the pot tips it is a real mess. Completely draining the pot with a wet vac and refilling every 5 years or so fixes this.
  • after many years in low light dissolved salts can build up. Particularly if you use too much fertilizer. Go easy on the fertilizer and consider flushing and refilling with distilled water every five years or so. A white crust that can be rubbed off indicates a potential issue.
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  • How and how often do you fertilize yours? I found this online but no idea, because every poster has different tips: "In growing season I water with 1/4 strength liquid fertilizer (and I use tap water) for every watering, then in fall/winter I do the 1/4 strength mixture 1x/month with regular watering all the other times as above. I use Miracle-Gro liquid All Purpose Plant Food. I mix up full strength, then use 1 part this mixture plus 3 parts tap water so that the final mix is 1/4 strength. I make sure the tap water is not cold -- closer to tepid."
    – Arya Daire
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 20:06
  • @AryaDaire Hard to say what is right for your plant in your location. The amount of sunlight is the key factor and the pH of the water you use. If the plant is growing don't fertilize, if it is spring the diluted levels you mention should do the job nicely. Remember in a self watering pot there is no way for excess fertilizer to be washed out like you see in soil. So...less fertilizer is better.
    – kevinskio
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 1:18
  • I'll check the pH :) And once I do fertilize, I'll change out the water in the self-watering pot. Thank you so much.
    – Arya Daire
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 1:40

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