A self-watering planter uses a reservoir and irrigation to give your plants access to water at the roots, allowing them to drink at their own pace. It's also a great solution for gardeners and plant lovers who may not be able (or who forget!) to water their plants from time to time.
We researched dozens of self-watering planters for indoor and outdoor use, evaluating effectiveness, ease of use, size, material, and style.
Plow & Hearth Sussex Self-Watering Resin Pot Planter
Made of high-quality resin
Reservoir and drainage hole
Stylish copper look
For a self-watering planter that is as stylish as it is functional, we love the Sussex planter from Plow & Hearth. Earning the top spot on our list, this product comes in three sizes (small, medium, and large), with the largest suitable for outdoor shrubs and larger plants, something that's hard to find at this price point. You can also grab one in each size for a coordinating set, although you'll need to purchase each one separately.
The frost-free resin accounts for a higher price point, but this quality material should hold up for the long haul, so we think it’s still a great value. You should look forward to years of growing in this planter without having to worry about warping, fading, or other damage. It is styled to resemble copper but at a fraction of the cost and with the convenient addition of the self-watering feature.
To use this planter, simply fill the reservoir in the bottom before potting your plants. Once they are planted, water the plants, as usual. Any excess water collects at the bottom of the reservoir or drains out the drainage holes. The plant can access the collected water with its roots when needed. This is an indoor/outdoor planter but is particularly great for outdoor use, due to the included drainage holes. When it rains, and excess water abounds, it simply drains out the bottom after enough has been stored in the reservoir.
Price at time of publish: $60
Dimensions: 16 x 10 x 10 inches︱Material: Resin︱Water Capacity: Not listed
ETGLCOZY Self-Watering Planter Pots
Easy to use
Easy to see water level
Clear portion needs to be kept clean
Works best with small plants
This five-piece set from ETGLCOZY is a great value and has all the features you need to keep your potted plants happy and watered, all for under $20. These planters come in gray or white and have a modern design that can blend into any decor. Perfect for displaying small plants such as herbs or decorative indoor plants, this set of five comes with three 6-inch pots, one 4.1-inch pot, and one 3.2-inch pot.
The water reservoir on the bottom clearly shows the current water level. A cotton rope suspended in the water reservoir brings water up to the soil and the plant’s roots, as needed, although the reservoir can show dirt after some time, it can be cleaned out periodically to keep that sparkling look. Emptying and refilling the water and cleaning out the reservoir can help keep your plants happy, which is always important.
Price at time of publish: $20
Dimensions: 6-inch, 4.1-inch, and 3.2-inch diameters︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: 2 weeks
Lark Manor Tyrell Self Watering Plastic Pot Planter
Large water reservoir
Weather and rust-resistant
The Lark Manor Tyrell Self Watering Plastic Pot Planter offers a timeless design that will make a statement on your porch or doorway and is available in four classic colors: white, black, espresso, and graphite gray. At 32 inches tall, it has a hefty presence in your space, whether you use it indoors or outdoors.
The water reservoir takes up half the space, so you won’t need to worry about having to use a ton of soil. The water capacity is 128 ounces, which lasts from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your plants. If you have it outside where it can collect rainwater, all you need to do is monitor the drainage holes to see whether you should add water. When you see water running out of the drain, you know the reservoir is full.
Drainage holes and a sizable water reservoir make this weather-and rust-resistant planter great for outdoor use. It is made of plastic so it is still easy to move. For the price, it would be nice to see an option made of resin, metal, or even a thicker plastic, but the construction is still solid and should hold up for years against the elements.
Price at time of publish: $158
Dimensions: 15.6 x 15.6 x 32 inches︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: Depends on plants
Best with Water Indicator
Window Garden Aquaphoric Self Watering Planter
Easy to use water level indicator
Reservoir is easy to fill
Available in five color choices
Only available in small size
The water level indicator on the Window Garden Aquaphoric Self-Watering planter is easy to read and use, making it the perfect choice for those who are new to gardening or new to using self-watering planters. The reservoir on the bottom is on the small side but is also very easy to fill from the spout on the side. It’s conveniently located by the water level indicator, so you never have to worry about digging around in the soil to find it.
This planter is on the small side, about the size of a teapot. Its kit includes soil and comes in five different colors and finishes. This special attention to style and design makes it easy to customize your planter look. Despite its appeal to container-gardening beginners, it also is a good choice for experienced gardeners who want something small for herbs or other micro-indoor plants.
Price at time of publish: $18
Dimensions: 5.25 x 5.25 x 5 inches︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: 1-2 days
Best for Starting Seeds
Judith Bloom Seed Starter Tray
Available in two colors
Modern, stylish design
Doesn't include soil or seeds
You can find plenty of seed starting kits that include soil, seeds, and plastic trays for single-use, but if you are looking for a self-watering planter that you can use year after year, we recommend the Judith Bloom Seed Starter Tray. Aside from being reusable, we love this seed-starting tray's modern, stylish design, and we think it will look great on any kitchen countertop or table. Made of terra cotta and ceramic material, this planter is available in two colors: white/terra cotta, and gray/terra cotta.
Although this planter does not include soil or seeds, we think the self-watering feature is a great addition to its practicality. According to the manufacturer, you only need to fill the planter's reservoir once a week to keep your seedlings happy (but make sure you check the soil and health of the plants to make sure they are getting what they need).
Price at time of publish: $30
Dimensions: 22 x 48 x 30 inches︱Material: Terra cotta and ceramic︱Water Capacity: 1 week
Bloem Medium Self Watering Planter with Drainage Holes
Variety of colors
Easy to use
Lacks water indicator
If you're looking to coordinate indoor planters with your decor, try the Bloem self-watering planters. They come in four colors: pebble stone, charcoal, misty blue, and merlot. All colors are muted and complement a variety of plants and decor styles.
These planters are simple, made of plastic, and medium-sized. There is no water level indicator, and the self-watering feature collects extra water, storing enough for just a few days of watering for most plants. We like this for indoor plants to take center stage. The planter does have UV protection, so you shouldn't need to worry about the color fading in bright sunlight.
Price at time of publish: $13
Dimensions: 13 x 10 inches︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: 2-3 days
Best Window Box
Mayne Fairfield Window Box Planter
Available in multiple colors and sizes
Durable and weather-resistant
15-year limited warranty
Heavy when filled
Window boxes add charm and a cottage-like feel to any home, but they can be hard to install and maintain. We love the Mayne Fairfield Window Box Planter because it's powder coated and made of Polyethylene resin, giving you the option to leave it up year-round without worrying about it fading or cracking. Although it is double-walled and durable, it's lightweight when empty, so it's easier to install than heavier options—many customers commented that it is very easy to install, although it also depends on the type of surface you are attaching it to. We also appreciate that it's available in different sizes and colors to fit your window and the style of your home.
Since this is a self-watering window box, you don't need to water it every day. In fact, thanks to the planter's double-wall design, there is a water reservoir underneath the planting area with a 3-gallon water capacity. Aside from being a time-saver, this feature encourages root growth and helps the plants retain moisture. Keep in mind that once the soil, plants, and water are inside the planter, it can get quite heavy. Make sure you have it installed properly on the wall or placed somewhere sturdy so you can enjoy it for years to come. It also is backed by a 15-year limited warranty, in case you do have any issues.
Price at time of publish: $95 (3-foot planter)
Dimensions: 36 x 11 x 11 inches︱Material: Resin︱Water Capacity: Varies
Mr. Stacky Stackable Vertical Garden with Self-Watering Tiers
Large capacity for small footprint
Available in multiple colors
Great for a variety of vegetables, fruit, flowers, herbs, and succulents
Good value for the size
No water level indicator
We like this vertical option from Mr. Stacky, because it offers room for a large capacity of plants, with a relatively small footprint, allowing you to have more space on your patio or deck for entertaining. Although this stackable option is not truly self-watering, all you need to do is water the top, and all of the excess water will trickle down to the other plants, saving you time having to water each plant. We also like that you are getting multiple pots—room for 20 plants—for an affordable price, and you can customize the height, depending on the number of tiers you use. The five tiers are easy to stack, and you can also choose from three colors: white, green, and terracotta. It also comes with a drip tray to catch any extra water.
Keep in mind that this product does not have a water level indicator, so you will have to monitor the moisture level on each pot. Customers have reported that some of the tiers can block the sun from the plants below, so you will want to make sure your plants are getting the right level of sunlight. Overall we think this is a great space-saving option for a variety of plants, from herbs, to strawberries, to succulents, as long as you don't mind the extra effort in making sure they are getting the right amount of sun and water.
Price at time of publish: $37
Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 28 inches︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: Not listed
Gray Bunny Self-Watering Hanging Planter Basket
Drain and self-watering
Shallow inner basket
Hanging planters can be hard to reach or take down, so the less you have to water them, the better. And like all planters, it’s important that they drain adequately, to prevent root rot. We like this self-watering option from Gray Bunny because it features an interior basket with three drainage holes, three wicking points to bring water back into the soil, and a water measuring meter to make sure the perfect balance is reached. However, keep in mind that the interior basket, where the plants grow, is a bit shallow, so it’s not best for plants with wide root structures.
The exterior shell is an attractive wicker-style resin with an optional secondary drain. This is helpful when you have a large downpour and need to extract water to prevent water-logging—especially important for outdoor plants. The outer shell serves as the reservoir and can hold up to 4 cups of water, which can last up to a few weeks, depending on your plant’s use. This hanging basket is designed for outdoor use, but you can remove the chain and bring it inside for a tabletop piece. Just be sure to double-check that the secondary drain is closed.
Price at time of publish: $32
Dimensions: 11.2 x 10.6 x 10.6 inches︱Material: Resin︱Water Capacity: 1-2 weeks
Best for Herbs
Click & Grow The Smart Garden 3
Plant pods included
Good for a variety of seedlings
Not good for mature plants
Need special pods
If you want to grow herbs and don’t know where to start, the Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 Indoor Herb garden comes with everything that you need. Three basil plant pods are included, but plenty of other pod options, sold separately, are available from Click and Grow. The opening for the reservoir, on the side of the planter, is easy to fill, with just a simple glass or watering can. The water level indicator tells you exactly how much is inside and when you need to refill it.
This herb garden planter is good for seedlings and small plants, but you need to transplant your herbs to a larger container once they outgrow it. If you are growing for use in your kitchen and plan to cut back your herbs periodically, you can keep new seedlings coming up in this planter. The included LED light makes this the perfect herb planter for darker rooms or kitchens that don’t have access to abundant natural light.
Price at time of publish: $90
Dimensions: 9 x 4.9 x 12.5 inches︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: 1 week
CedarCraft Self-Watering Elevated Cedar Planter
Large water reservoir
Water level indicator
Heavy to move
Made of weather-resistant cedar, the CedarCraft Self-Watering Elevated planter makes it easy to water outdoor plants without having to kneel, bend over, or reach up to take down a hanging planter. You can use it for seedlings all the way through most mature plants. It requires some assembly, but its tongue-and-groove construction minimizes the need for tools. Most homeowners will have what they need on hand to put this handy planter box together.
The impressive 6-gallon reservoir is located all along the bottom of the planter box. Depending on how many plants you have and their stage of growth, this can last a few days or a few weeks. It includes a water level indicator and reservoir fill spout at one end. While it can be used indoors without worrying about damage, it is designed for outdoor use and larger growing needs. It is also heavy to move once it is assembled and filled with water and soil. We recommend putting it together as close to its final home in your yard as possible.
Price at time of publish: $250
Dimensions: 22 x 48 x 30 inches︱Material: Cedar︱Water Capacity: 1-2 weeks
Our best overall pick is the Plow & Hearth Sussex Self-Watering Resin Pot Planter, which features a chic functional design aesthetic and can be used indoors and out and with a variety of different-sized plants. For a more affordable option, consider the Bloem Medium Self-Watering Planter with Drainage Holes. We love its sturdy and simple design.
What to Look for in a Self-Watering Planter
Self-watering planters are often heavy-grade plastic, which is a good material because it can hold up to the elements, and you don’t have to worry about soil or water damaging it. Resin, cedar, and treated metal are other options. These can be more expensive and heavier to move than their plastic counterparts, but they often resist rusting, warping, and fading. Our best overall option, the Plow & Hearth Sussex Self-Watering Resin Pot Planter is made of durable resin but is stylish enough to display on a front porch.
Most self-watering planters use a reservoir system to collect extra water and store it for later use. The plant takes in water by direct absorption from the soil and roots, or from a rope or other material to bring the water up. The reservoir's water capacity varies from a few ounces to more than half the size of the planter. The amount of time the water lasts depends on the plants and growing conditions, but most hold the water from a few days to a few weeks. For example, our best window box option, the Mayne Fairfield Window Box Planter, has a reservoir that can hold up to 3 gallons of water.
Water Level Indicator
Many self-watering planters have water level indicators that can help growers know how much water is inside the planter. That is very important with indoor plants that do not have access to rainfall. Look for a water level indicator that is easy to read and is located near the opening for the reservoir, which helps you know when to refill and makes refilling easier. For example, the Window Garden Aquaphoric Self Watering Planter has a very easy-to-read, easy-to-locate water level indicator.
How do self-watering planters work?
Self-watering planters store extra water in a reservoir, usually located at the base or bottom of the planter. Plants can access the water as needed through their roots or another mechanism, such as a cotton rope that allows water to travel back up into the soil. Many self-watering planters also have drainage holes to allow extra water to drain from the planter, which prevents root rot or waterlogging the plant.
How often do you need to fill a self-watering planter?
The amount of water needed will vary based on the plant, its stage of growth, and the growing conditions. Most people check the water level indicator of their self-watering planters every day or two and need to refill them at least once per week. If you are using a self-watering planter outside and get adequate rainfall, you may not need to refill your planter at all, with proper monitoring.
What types of plants are self-watering planters good for?
All plants that like moderate or heavy amounts of water can be planted in a self-watering planter. Those that have really picky water needs should get extra care and monitoring. Plants that do not need a lot of water, such as succulents and cacti will do better in a planter that does not store water, since excess water can be damaging to this specific type of root. Some herbs, like rosemary, prefer to be thoroughly dry between waterings. They are not great plants to have in a self-watering planter.
Why Trust The Spruce
This article was researched and written by Katie Begley, a freelance writer who specializes in home and family products. Begley has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. An avid home gardener, she has grown herbs, flowers, and vegetables in container gardens from seedlings. She considered dozens of self-watering planters for this roundup, evaluating them on size, material, water reservoir and drainage features, design aesthetic, and value.
Jenica Currie, associate commerce editor for The Spruce, updated this article with new picks and insights. Currie is an avid gardener and plant parent who is always looking for ways to make watering less of a chore and has tested soaker hoses and other self-watering systems for both indoor and outdoor use.