Whether you’re a new gardener worried about over- or under-watering or are just looking to make life easier, self-watering planters take the guesswork out of watering your plants.
Designed with a water reservoir at the base, self-watering planters allow plants to draw up water to their roots and drink at their own pace. But before selecting a self-watering planter, consider where you’ll place it, indoors or outdoors, and the type of plant that will go in it.
“Self-watering planters are a great way to reduce maintenance and extend the time between watering,” says gardening expert Melinda Myers. “They also take away the overwhelming fear factor of buying a plant and then watching it yellow and wilt weeks later.”
To arrive at the best self-watering planters, we researched various options, keeping in mind size and shape, refill frequency, material, and oxygen circulation. In addition to Myers, we consulted Adam Besheer, co-founder of Greenery: Unlimited for additional insight.
Read on for our full list of the best self-watering planters.
Winston Porter Carmeron Self-Watering Planter
Our pick for the best self-watering planter offers an easy way to water your plants, a classic look, and an array of color and size choices. Made of BPA-free, weather-resistant plastic, these planters look like a traditional ceramic pot, but are lighter in weight and easier to move.
Available in six sizes, these planters offer 17 color options too. We love the range in choice, from neutral shades like black and chocolate to brighter colors such as calypso (turquoise), tequila sunrise (bright orange), and earthy yellow. You’ll definitely find a planter to suit your plant and space, whether indoors or outdoors.
We like that the self-watering mechanism is straightforward and easy-to-use. It’s simply a tray with small porous channels that separates the base of the pot from the potting mix. These channels are filled with soil and act as wicks, bringing the water up to the roots.
With this self-watering design, you’ll water from the top, and extra water will collect at the planter’s base for future use. And your plant will also receive the necessary oxygen circulation it needs for its roots to thrive.
Product Details: Dimensions: 17.75 x 17.75 x 13.75 inches plus five more sizes | Plant Capacity: Not listed | Refill Frequency: Not listed
HBServices USA Self Watering Pot
For seamless self-watering and a modern look, this planter can’t be beat. We love how the saucer detaches from the planter, allowing you to easily fill up the reservoir. To make watering even easier, each planter comes with a clip-on watering attachment.
You can keep it on all the time, or simply detach it when you’re not using it. The base of the planter has hollow legs that sit in the reservoir to wick up moisture to the plant’s roots. For the self-watering to work, these legs need to have soil in them. And no need to worry about rot and fungus since the base has slots to allow airflow through the soil.
Made of polypropylene plastic that’s 100% BPA-free, this planter is safe for planting vegetables or herbs. This planter comes in five colors including white, plum, green, blue, and black. You can also choose from four different sizes: 4, 6, 10, or 12 inches.
The 12-inch plant comes with wheels on the bottom so it can easily be moved whether your plant is indoors or outdoors.
Product Details: Size: 6, 8, 10, or 12 inches | Plant Capacity: Not listed | Refill Frequency: Two weeks
Pottery Barn Annika Self-Watering Planter
If you’re willing to splurge a bit, this is the best self-watering planter for you. This planter will tell you exactly when it’s time to water your plants—no more guessing. At the top of the planter, you’ll find built-in technology that shows when the planter is completely full of water, two-thirds full, and one-third full.
Three raindrop images will turn blue when the reservoir located at the bottom of the planter is full. The blue color fades away as the reservoir depletes of water, indicating when it’s time to add more. This planter also comes with a 10-year warranty.
And if there’s a lot of rain, no worries—a drainage hole at the bottom of the planter will rid the plant of excess water. You want to avoid overwatering and having the soil and roots around your plants become saturated. So be sure the drainage hole is open outdoors so the water can drain quickly, but keep it closed indoors to prevent watering from leaking.
Made of sustainably-sourced polyethylene, these planters are durable and weather-resistant. Best of all, they were created to resemble clay and don’t look like plastic at all. With a high-end look, they’d style well in both traditional or modern spaces. Choose from four sizes and four neutral finishes—white, black, bronze, and slate.
Product Details: Size: 18, 22, 26, or 30 inches | Plant Capacity: Not listed | Refill Frequency: Not listed
Best for Indoors
Gardenix Decor Self Watering Planters
For your home’s interior, you want a self-watering planter that will not only help your carefully selected houseplants to thrive, but add style while doing so. Sold as a three pack, the Gardenix Decor 7-Inch Self-Watering Planters fit the design industry’s magic number when styling with objects. Complement your plant or flower with planter colors in gray, teal, terracotta, and white.
This planter comes with a plastic, inner liner that separates the potting mix and plant from the water at the planter’s base. Thanks to this design, your plant’s roots won’t be sitting in water, and you’ll avoid root rot.
To get started, you’ll first assemble the water indicator and place it on the side of the liner. Then, you’ll add the soil and fill your planter with water using the indicator. Depending on the plant, you won’t need to water it for about a week and a half, but the water level indicator will tell you exactly when it is time to do so. As a bonus, there’s also a dial at the top of the planter that tracks the growth of your plant.
It also comes with an all-natural coco soil to be used as a potting mix. Made of 100% organic, coconut shell fibers, it helps provide a perfect combination of moisture and oxygen to the plant’s root system for it to thrive.
Product Details: Size: 7 inches | Plant Capacity: Not listed | Refill Frequency: 10 days
Best Extra Large
Crescent Garden Dot TruDrop Planter
While the Crescent Garden Dot TruDrop Planter is a practical, extra large planter, it’s also a statement piece. Modern and sophisticated, it’s available in a few neutral colors including alpine white, caviar black, mocha, and vintage copper.
It also comes in two other sizes (16 and 20 inch), if you’re looking for something smaller for flowers, herbs, or vegetables. The extra-large size is perfect for a small tree or rose bush, and it keeps plants hydrated for two to six weeks, depending on the plant and its environment.
This self-watering planter features a foolproof way to give your plants exactly what they need, when they need it. Just use a gardening hose or watering can to fill the reservoir with water. The roots will soak up water from the bottom, and the gauge at the top indicates the plant’s level of hydration.
Made of polyethylene, the planter is also lightweight and durable. But because it seems to have it all, you’ll pay extra—it’s more expensive than other options on our list.
Product Details: Size: 26 inches | Plant Capacity: Not listed | Refill Frequency: Two to six weeks
Best for Outdoors
Lechuza Cube Cottage Self-Watering Planter
The Lechuza Cube Cottage 50 Self-Watering Garden Planter is the best outdoor self-watering planter. The cube-shaped planter has a built-in water level indicator that lets you know exactly when it’s time to water it. There’s also a removable drainage plug on the bottom, which is important for outdoor planters so that excess water can drain after a heavy rain.
Not only is this pick practical for your outdoor space, but it’s also stylish. It has a woven design that resembles wicker, which gives it a classic, natural style. Add a showstopper like a colorful croton or yucca plant (which you definitely don’t want to overwater) to liven up a corner of your porch or patio.
Made of polypropylene, or resin, which won’t easily crack, rust, or fade when exposed to natural elements, this planter is easy to put together. However, it may be heavy to move around, especially once it’s home to the plant and water.
The self-watering planter also comes with the company’s own substrate, Lechuza PON, made from nutrient-enriched pumice, zeolites, and lava. This combination acts like a buffer that absorbs excessive fertilizer and gives it back to the plant when needed.
Product Details: Size: 16, 20, or 26 inches | Plant Capacity: Not listed | Refill Frequency: Not listed
Best for Herbs
Amazing Creation Window Herb Planter Boxes
This is a self-watering planter that’s perfect for planting your herbs. Its rectangular shape will fit nicely in your kitchen or outside on a patio. It comes in a pack of three, each a cream color, but with a different color insert—orange, coffee, or green—which shows nicely at the top of the planter.
Once planted, your herbs will be self-sufficient. Just water it and the planter will slowly water your plant for two weeks. A viewing window into the planter’s water reservoir at the bottom will let you easily see when it’s time to water again.
Made of a durable plastic that’s food safe, this planter’s nesting design enables it to self-water. Two water absorbent strips sit at the bottom of the insert and hang down into the water reservoir to wick up moisture to the plant’s soil and roots.
This planter is designed to sit on your window sill, so measure before purchasing to make sure your sill is wide enough to hold the planter. If you love to cook with herbs, this is the best self-watering planter for you.
Product Details: Dimensions: 9 x 3 x 5.5 inches | Plant Capacity: Two or three herbs | Refill Frequency: Two weeks
Best for Seedlings
Judith Bloom Seed Starter Tray
This ceramic tray allows you to easily get started on your garden indoors. Plant vegetables, flowers, or even start a mini indoor herb garden with the Judith Bloom Seed Starter Tray.
We love its minimalist, modern design that’s not only functional, but aesthetically pleasing. Made of authentic, food-safe ceramic and terra cotta, this tray’s material alone keeps the soil moist. It also naturally retains heat, so it creates the ideal environment to help your seedlings grow.
To use, fill the tray with a seed-starting soil mix, and plant two or three seeds per pod. Then, fill the reservoir with water, and place it by a sunny window. Fill the reservoir with water about once a week to ensure your seedlings have sufficient water to grow.
Additionally, a drainage hole in each pod allows for proper air circulation. And while it comes with a drainage plate to keep under the pot to catch excess water, make sure not to add too much water too quickly or the plate may overflow. However, because of its stylish look and helpful features, this is the best self-watering planter for seedlings.
Product Details: Size: 5.25 x 7.75 x 3.5 inches | Plant Capacity: 10-20 seedlings | Refill Frequency: Once a week
Bloem Dayton Self-Watering Planter
For those looking for an eco-friendly option, the Dayton Black Self-Watering Plastic Planter is the best self-watering planter for you. This planter is sourced from 100% plastic materials that are eco-friendly and long-lasting. Made from both marine waste and curbside recycled material, the sustainable plastic is highly durable for all-weather outdoor use.
It’s UV-protected too, so whether using it on your deck or by a full sun window indoors, the black color won’t fade. It comes with a removable tray, which we recommend using inside to protect your floor or table from spills.
For easy self-watering, the planter was designed with soil channels that access the water at its bottom reservoir and wick it up to the roots. Refill the reservoir from a watering hole on the side of the planter.
For the most part, you can simply fill up your self-watering planter’s reservoir with water and forget about it. But, without a water indicator, there’s a little bit of trial and error in the beginning. So when starting out, be sure to check the water level frequently—you don’t want the reservoir to go dry.
Product Details: Size: 16 inches | Plant Capacity: Not listed | Refill Frequency: Not listed
City Pickers Patio Raised Bed Grow Box Kit
Forget about digging a garden in your yard, the City Pickers Patio Raised Garden Bed Grow Box Kit provides almost everything you need to create one right outside your door. This convenient kit comes with a growing box, caster wheels, a water fill tube, an aeration screen, and a mulch cover.
Made from polyethylene, the container is chemically inactive, BPA free, phthalate free, and safe for growing edible garden vegetables. The 2-gallon self-watering planter has drainage holes to prevent overwatering, and it has casters so you can easily wheel it around your patio if need be.
The bottom of the planter acts as a water reservoir, and there is a small tube on the side of the planter where you can add water. After you add water to the tube, the self-watering system will keep your plants’ roots moist. You also don’t have to worry about a lack of oxygen—the aeration screen helps create air flow so your plants receive an adequate amount of oxygen.
It comes in a traditional terra cotta color, but there are also six other colors to choose from including blue, aquamarine, brown, charcoal gray, green, and sandstone. Like the Dayton Black Self-Watering Plastic Planter, this planter also doesn’t have a water level indicator, so make sure to add more water every few days to avoid drying out your plants.
Product Details: Size: 24.25 x 20.25 x 9.5 inches | Plant Capacity: 5-20 seedlings, depending on the type of plant | Refill Frequency: Every few days
Best for Urban Gardeners
Glowpear Self-Watering Urban Garden Planter
Contemporary and chic, the Glowpear Self-Watering Urban Garden Planter is the right size to grow a handful of plants while fitting on a small outdoor patio. With this planter, you can grow vegetables, fruit, herbs, plants, flowers, and even take indoor plants outdoors since it comes with a clip-on drip tray.
This rectangular, raised self-watering planter holds up to 3.5 gallons of water, so you don’t have to refill it every day. There are a couple of different ways to water your plants with this planter. You can pour water directly into the reservoir, or you can water your plants normally with a watering can or hose. When the water level is low, an indicator on the side of the planter pops up to let you know to add more water.
And if by chance you overfill it or if it rains, there’s a drip drain. Made of polyethylene, it’s BPA-free, food safe, and UV/ corrosion resistant. It’s also modular, so you can add on another unit and expand your garden plot.
Because of its impressive features, it is one of the most expensive self-watering planters on our list. However, we love its modern look and large capacity, so it’s our top pick for the best urban self-watering planter.
Product Details: Size: 18.5 x 29.5 x 19.7 inches | Plant Capacity: Not listed | Refill Frequency: Not listed
Vivosun Vertical Gardening Stackable Planter
If you want to utilize vertical space, this is the best self-watering planter. It features three pots per five tiers, so it can fit up to 15 plants in total. The tiers are also removable so you can customize the height of the planter. You can use this as a hanging planter too, but only when using one, two, or three tiers (otherwise, it’ll be too heavy).
You’ll water from the top of this planter for its self-watering function to work. It’s basically a trickle-down effect with all individual planters receiving proper irrigation. Each planter comes with a filter screen to separate the water in the reservoir from the plant, and each planter also has a drainage hole for excess water.
There’s also a bottom plate to collect excess water and keep the floor clean. However, for indoor use, you might want to add something a little bigger—after all, this one plate is collecting the excess water from 15 plants.
Available in five colors—black, brown, gray, green, and ivory—we like that It works with any aesthetic. Not to mention, it’s made of durable, BPA-free plastic that’s food safe. You can also buy this as a two-pack and have 30 self-sufficient plants.
Product Details: Size: 12.5 x 12.5 x 24 inches | Plant Capacity: 15 | Refill Frequency: Not listed
The Bottom Line
Wayfair’s Winston Porter Carmeron 1 is our best overall self-watering planter because it is easy-to-use and offers a classic style in a range of size and color choices. It’s also an affordable option for a self-watering design that also allows adequate airflow to the plant’s root system in order for it to thrive.
What to Know About Self-Watering Planters Before Shopping
Size and Shape
There are a range of sizes and shapes of indoor and outdoor self-watering planters to suit the space or plant that will go inside of it. Select a planter that is proportional to your plant, which is most likely the same size of the pot it came in from the garden center or about two inches larger so that it has room to grow.
With indoor plants, you want to be sure not to plant them in a pot that is too large. Myers explains that the planter should be about an inch or two larger than the root ball as most indoor plants don’t like a lot of excess soil.
As far as shape, the shape doesn’t have an effect on the plant’s health or growth—it’s purely aesthetic.
“Refill frequency really depends on how much light the plant is getting, how healthy the plant is, and what type of plant is in the container,” Besheer says.
As plants grow, you will need to fill the self-watering planter’s water reservoir more often. You’ll also want to take into account where you live—if your planter is outside and you live in a dry climate, you’ll need to refill the reservoir more frequently.
“If you keep the reservoir full, it won’t be a problem,” Myers says. “But if you let it go too dry, just be sure to fill it up soon. You don’t want to be filling the reservoir everyday since that defeats the purpose. But do be sure to monitor it.”
Most of the options on the market are plastic or ceramic, which tend to hold moisture longer. Ceramic pots are typically glazed with a coat of lacquer that prevents the soil from drying out at the same speed as it would in an unglazed clay or terra cotta planter.
“Self-watering planters need to be made from a non-porous material so that the planters don’t ‘sweat’ out all the moisture from the reservoir,” Besheer says. “There are both plastic and ceramic options available, but we always favor a sustainable resource like ceramic or glass when there’s an option.”
Myers notes that if your planter is going outside, you’ll want to be sure that you buy one that is weatherproof to tolerate sunlight and cold temperatures. Planters made of polypropylene (resin) hold up to rain, snow, sun, and more. Plus, they are rust, crack, and stain resistant.
“Oxygen exposure to a plant’s root system is a key element to a plant’s long term success,” Besheer says. “A good oxygen level will contribute to healthier roots, making the plant more resistant to pathogens and disease.”
Choose a self-watering planter that incorporates porosity into the design of its wicking system like inner liners or trays with small porous channels that separate the base of the pot from the potting mix.
Myers recommends buying a quality potting mix for indoor or outdoors that not only holds moisture, but will provide air space for sufficient drainage. Beneficial potting mixes include perlite, vermiculite, or organic matter.
Your Questions, Answered
Can self-watering pots overwater plants?
It’s possible to overwater your plants if your self-watering planter does not allow a way for excess water to drain. All planters should have an overflow mechanism that allows water to drain out if the reservoir is filled to full. This is especially important for those planters placed outside. After a rainfall, excess water needs a place to go.
“A good self-watering pot will allow a plant to drink at its own pace and massively reduces the guessing game of when to water,” Besheer says. “The thing we like to tell our customers is that most plants like wet feet and dry ankles. The soil mass should never feel soggy, and with a good self-watering set-up the top layer of soil usually gets somewhat dry.”
The same is true indoors. You’ll find that many self-watering planters come with a bottom saucer to collect an overflow of water. This prevents plants from sitting in water, which eventually could cause root rot. Look for pots with drainage holes to account for overwatering by mistake.
Do self-watering planters cause root rot?
If excess water can drain out, root rot shouldn’t be a problem, says Myers. The best self-watering planters have holes to allow excess water to drain out.
Besheer adds that it’s important to look for a system that allows oxygen to flow freely to the roots and actually allows you to easily monitor root health by simply lifting up the planter. In this way, the plant’s roots grow down into the reservoir and are easy to keep tabs on.
What are the benefits of self-watering planters?
Self-watering planters maintain a consistent level of moisture in plants’ soil to keep them healthy and hydrated. This works through capillary action, or wicking, which puts the soil in contact with the water.
As the plant roots absorb water, the soil wicks up more so plants can drink at their own pace, making it convenient for both plant owners and plants.
“Self-watering planters provide lusher, healthier and more consistent growth over time, especially when combined with a good light source,” Besheer says.
Who We Are
Jennifer Carmichael is a freelance writer for Better Homes & Gardens. She researched the variety of self-watering planters on the market, keeping in mind size and shape, refill frequency, material, and oxygen circulation. She also consulted with gardening experts Melinda Myers and Adam Besheer, co-founder of Greenery: Unlimited.