Easy DIY Self-Watering System For Your Indoor Plants

in #gardening5 years ago

Keep your indoor plants healthy and watered with this easy DIY self-watering system!

diy self-watering system.jpg

My Passion For Gardening

I haven’t been posting about it a lot, but I’m a passionate gardener. Now spring is getting closer, I get more and more excited about the new gardening season. Even though now it’s sure I’ll have to miss out on the start of it because of the major back surgery I have coming up at the end of this month.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t help myself and started the season early, sowing some seeds inside and - once they had sprouted - putting the seedlings in the giant propagator I treated myself to.


The seedlings that grew to big and didn’t fit the propagator anymore, I put on the windowsill of a south-facing window, so they could enjoy all the sunlight they could get.

A Week Off

What I didn’t really think off, was that I would be leaving for France for a week this week.

I had found a sweet lady who wanted to take care of the cats, but I found it too much to ask her to also take care of my precious plants all week long.

The small plants in the propagator could go without watering for a week, but I had to come up with a solution to make sure the other ones didn’t dry out during the week.

Pretty last-minute I started searching online for an easy-to-apply DIY automated self-watering system that would do the trick. I found one and set it up, but since I hadn’t tested it out before, I was a little worried about how it would turn out.

When I arrived back home this morning, I didn’t have the slightest idea if my plants would have survived or not... pretty exciting I must say...

It Worked!!

I couldn’t have been happier when I found out my super simple system had worked! My plants looked healthy and well-watered. They had survived the week, taking care of themselves. The experiment had been successful!


There had been no risk on overwatering or drying out, because with the system I had set up, the plants had been able to take the water they needed, at the time they needed it.

So simple, yet so effective...

DIY AuomatedSelf-Watering System

I guess by now you’re wondering what I just did to keep my precious plants alive.
Well, I’ll tell you.

You don’t need any advanced tools to set it up. All I used was:

  • A big bucket (or more than 1 if you have a lot of plants)

  • An old T-shirt, cut into long strings (if you don’t have an old T-shirt lying around, you can use something else. All you need to make sure of is that the material can absorb water.)

  • Something to make 1 side of the strings heavier so it will sink to the bottom of the bucket when it’s filled with water. (I used old buttons which I sowed to one end of each string)

sow-on button.jpg

Setting up the system

Before setting up the system, you need to make sure your plants are well-watered.

  • Fill the bucket with water.

  • Place the bucket on a higher level than your plants. You can use for example a stool that is higher than the table you will put your plants on. The idea is to make sure the water level in the bucket is above your plants.

  • Take your strings of T-shirt and plunge the heavy side in the bucket. Make sure they are heavy enough to sink to the bottom.

  • Gather your plants around the bucket. Make sure they’re on a lower level.

  • For each plant, take the other side of a string and put it in the soil, close to your plant’s roots.

diy self-watering system example.jpg

  • Make sure your string is going straight down. If it isn’t, it will not take the water absorbed from the soil up the string, and the system will not work.



  • Wait for about an hour to make sure your system works. If it does, you should see the strings of T-shirt absorbing water from the soil of your plant at the bottom, and absorbing water from the bucket at the top.

    From the moment your soils starts to get dryer, there will be less water going up the string, and more water going down the string. This way, the water from the bucket will be slowly transferred to the soil of your plants.

Tip: Test It Out Before You Leave

I had put this system in place just a couple of hours before I left. I have been lucky: the buckets I used were not empty when I returned, but it was a close one.

It’s not a bad idea to test how long a full bucket of water lasts. If it doesn’t last long enough, use more buckets and place fewer strings into each bucket.

Happy Holidays!



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Wow its a great way to keep plants watered and leave for holiday for a week or even month. I wonder if there's something similar for feeding a fish pond?

I guess a pet-sitter would be the best option for that ;0)

Im not into fish aquariums or whatever the proper english word for the small ones is. But i could make you automated fish feeder + other stuff if there is enough interest for this.

I am sure there would be alot of interest.

There are many automatic fish feeders available that run on batteries. I used one for my aquarium in the past, but I had issues with it dumping too much food in at once. They work with a rotating barrel-type dispenser.

Nice idea, i think i will try it.

Wow thats an wonderful idea!

your idea is amazing i'll definitely try it.

Mike this blows my mind I am so excited to resteem! @libertyranger helped me find this by reacting to your post in my resteem requests channel!

Always an honour to be able to blow your mind ;0) Thanks in advance for the resteem!
(Thanks to @libertyranger for noticing my post.)

Easy, free and DIY... Just my style!! I’ve got a couple potted banana trees that I’m going to try this out on. They’re in my grow room with my seedlings that I water every day, but I forget about them half the time. Maybe because they’re in the far corner. I don’t know, but I think this might be the answer.

I’ve read that banana treed require quite some water, so this might work for them. Let me know how it goes

Well, we’ll see how it works!

Thank you for contributing your knowledge to help others! This post has been added to the Sotall.org Directory of Self Sufficiency & Survival posts. One of our goals is to provide access to the knowledge of our fellow Steamians, that will still be seen, long after the 7 day period is passed. If you write any future articles with instructions on how to do any tasks related to a homestead or survival, to ensure they are added to the directory, please submit them. They will be added as soon as possible.

Thanks a lot! I’m honoured ;0)

Great setup! Its unlike any of the other self watering systems I´ve seen so far (not that I´ve done a ton of re-search on them) very simple yet efficient :) I share your excitement about the upcoming season, got a bunch of seedlings growing :D :D

Exciting, isn’t it?! 😜

An interesting and simple wicking solution. Well done and thanks for sharing!

You’re welcome ;0)

This is genius. I wonder if it worked if you scaled it down using just yarn or string for smaller plants.

It works with string too - just make sure it's absorbing water

Amazing idea! Thank you for posting this. I am also a container gardener (novice gardener lol) and will try this on my newly potted pepper plants. Cant have my plants die of thirst, especially here in the Philippines where it's really hot.

I've just read that you use this system the entire year long. All you need to do is refill the buckets every once in a while. I can imagine you spend a lot of time watering the plants if it's that hot all the time :0)

I was wondering how well that worked. I have had problems the past couple of yrs with my seedlings, dying out just as the got big enough to move out on their own. A friend suggested it to me. She said it works great....she also kills any house plant she gets, so I wasn't sure.

I don't kill any houseplants, so I guess you can trust me when I say it actually works :0)

This is a great idea. I wonder if there is a system for watering your house plants without over watering them? I kill house plants. No matter the type I kill them. I think I over or under water them. If I could find a system that does it for me, I might be able to have plants in my house, that survive :)

Great post and thank you for sharing :)

You can leave thd system in place all the time and simply refill the buckets when needed. It should work.

We don't go on a vacation but if we would I would definitely set up something like this. Brilliant! Thank you for sharing. We are passionated gardeners too! So nice to see your post!

You can use the system all year long, even if you’re not going away. It saves time because all you need to do is refill the buckets every once in a while...

This is a brilliant idea.
I have some Aloe plants I am going to set this up with.
I either make them die of thirst or I drown them. THis seems like the answer.
I will let them know this was your idea so it you see @Aloe following you in the future, that's my plants thanking you.

By the way I found this post on @jerrybanfield's #resteem-request channel on discord

Thanks for visiting. I'm not really sure it will work for Aloe Vera plants. I have one, and I just let it unattended for a week. They don't need a lot of water, do they? This system is set up to transfer the water to the soil whenever the soil is dry, but I think the soil of Aloe plants is dry most of the time. I'm not sure, but you might be drowning them with this system.

(I just water mine whenever I think of it, which means it sometimes doesn't get a drink for two or three weeks, and sometimes 2 days in a row. So far, it is still alive - lol. I think they can handle thirst pretty good, being a desert plant...)

my problem is during the winter I have to bring these inside and they are put in a back bedroom and almost forgotten about. It may be two months... in the past it has been... before they get a drink. They don't tend to do real well lie that. But outdoors during the summer they get lots of rain and seem to do pretty well. I had one in my kitchen window and drowned it though. But your idea just seems like the perfect babysitter.

Perhaps I can try different types of cloth or widths to try and determine what one carries more or less water. I have about six of these so I may have to turn the whole thing into a lab experiment.

I did some searching and it may work if you use some cotton string. According to the pictures in this article they seem to be using this system for succulents, so I guess it might work.

I also found this article on watering Aloe Vera plants. Although they are in hibernation during winter, they still suggest watering every 2 weeks, so I assume it's worth a try...

That's a great idea! Very clever of you. I'm impressed. I really only have succulents inside right now, so they'er ok for a while, but if I get plants that need to be watered, I'll keep this in mind. Thanks!

Glad to be able to share. Succulents are supposed to be easy-to-grow. Somehow, I managed to let a couple of them die last year... forgot to water them for weeks, then gave them too much... :0(

Really awesome writing you share always & thanks a lot to share this content with us.

I like your picture and wiss you good luck

i hope purity

Wow...its a unique and the way how we garden on urban life...nice...

Please vote 😊😊😊

You aren't going to get any votes like this. You should try reading the article and posting an insightful comment

I've needed to see this post for a long time. lol. So much learning for me still to do. Trying to slowly develop a green thumb. Thanks for this.

You got me wondering: how does one 'slowly develop a green thumb'? ;0)

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Wow , simple but effective way.
May be next time i can help you build a gardening system with arduino and servo systems.

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Wow, thanks! My husband will be so happy when I share this with him. He's the plant guy in our house.

good one! love your ingenuity! :) happy plants!!

Thanks. Indeed: happy plants :0)

That is amazing! We currently don't have any indoor plants...but we an to! Thanks for this! 🙃

You are a genius man, you should patent this.

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Brilliant idea! I've just returned home from a holiday and found very tragic liking plants... Wish I found this earlier

Well, you can tell your plants it's never going to happen anymore

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