The Best Self-Watering Planters for the Busy Gardener

Our best overall pick: the Plow & Hearth Sussex Self-Watering Resin Pot Planter

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 The 7 Best Self-Watering Planters of 2022

The Spruce / Chloe Jeong

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. We researched dozens of self-watering planters, evaluating construction, effectiveness, and ease of use and maintenance.

We also considered options that work for indoor and outdoor use. Our best overall pick, the Plow & Hearth Sussex Self-Watering Resin Pot Planter, is made from frost-free resin, is sized to accommodate a variety of different plants, and features a chic and functional design aesthetic.

Ahead, find the best self-watering planters to keep your plants lush.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Plow & Hearth Sussex Self-Watering Resin Pot Planter

4.7
Plow & Hearth Sussex Self-Watering Resin Pot Planter

Wayfair

What We Like
  • Multiple sizes

  • Made of high-quality resin

  • Reservoir and drainage hole

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Sold individually

For a self-watering planter that is as stylish as it is functional, consider the Sussex planter from Plow & Hearth. It comes in three sizes (small, medium, and large) and the largest is big enough for outdoor shrubs and larger plants, something hard to find at this price point. If you want a pair for your home, you need to purchase them separately since these do not come in a set.

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 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 once enough has been stored in the reservoir.

Dimensions: 27.5 x 13.75 x 13.75 inches︱Material: Resin︱Water Capacity: Not listed

Best Budget: ETGLCOZY Self-Watering Planter Pots

ETGLCOZY Self-Watering Planter Pots

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Easy to see water level

  • Five-piece set

What We Don't Like
  • Clear portion needs to be kept clean

  • Works best with small pots

This five-piece set from ETGLCOZY is a great value and has all the features you need to keep your small potted plants happy and watered, for under $20. They are great for small plants such as herbs or decorative indoor plants. The set of five comes with three 6-inch pots, one 4.1-inch pot, and one 3.2-inch pot. This grouping is a great way to display your plants, as well.

These planters come in gray or white and have a modern design. The water reservoir on the bottom clearly shows the current water level. The reservoirs show dirt after some time but can be cleaned out periodically to keep that sparkling look. Emptying and refilling the water and cleaning out the reservoir also keep your plants happy. A cotton rope suspended in the water reservoir brings water up to the soil and plant’s roots, as needed.

Dimensions: 6-inch, 4.1-inch, and 3.2-inch diameters︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: 2 weeks

Best Splurge: Lark Manor Tyrell Self Watering Plastic Pot Planter

Lark Manor Tyrell Self Watering Plastic Pot Planter

Wayfair

What We Like
  • Timeless design

  • Multiple colors

  • Large water reservoir

  • Weather and rust-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic material

This tall planter from Lark Manor offers a timeless design to make a statement on your porch or doorway. The Tyrell planter comes 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 don’t need to worry about having to use a ton of soil. It 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 if you should add water. When you see water running out 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.

Dimensions: 15.6 x 15.6 x 32 inches︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: Depends on plants

Best Indoor: Bloem Medium Self Watering Planter with Drainage Holes

Bloem Medium Self Watering Planter with Drainage Holes

Lowes

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Variety of colors

  • Easy to use

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Dimensions: 13 x 10 inches︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: 2-3 days

Best Hanging: Gray Bunny Self-Watering Hanging Planter Basket

Gray Bunny Self-Watering Hanging Planter Basket

Amazon

What We Like
  • Drain and self-watering

  • Water measuring meter and indicator

  • Decorative shell

  • Indoor/outdoor

What We Don't Like
  • Can be tricky to reach

  • Shallow inner basket

The Gray Bunny Store self-watering hanging planter basket accomplishes two important aspects of a hanging basket: drainage and self-watering. Watering these planters can be tricky, so the less you have to do it, the better. It’s also important that they drain adequately, to prevent root rot. This planter 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. 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.

Dimensions: 11.2 x 10.6 x 10.6 inches︱Material: Resin︱Water Capacity: 1-2 weeks

Best for Herbs: Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 Self Watering Indoor Garden

Click & Grow Indoor Smart Fresh Herb Garden Kit With 3 Basil Cartridges & Orange Lid | Self Watering Planter & Patented Nano-Tech Medium For Plant Growth

Amazon

What We Like
  • All-inclusive

  • Plant pods included

  • Good for a variety of seedlings

  • LED light

What We Don't Like
  • Not good for mature plants

  • Small capacity

  • 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.

Dimensions: 9 x 4.9 x 12.5 inches︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: 1 week

Best for Beginners: Window Garden Aquaphoric Self Watering Planter

Window Garden Aquaphoric Self Watering Planter

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to use water level indicator

  • Reservoir is easy to fill

  • Included soil

What We Don't Like
  • Reservoir is small

  • May want to use your own soil

  • Small planter

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 new to gardening or 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.

Dimensions: 5.25 x 5.25 x 5 inches︱Material: Plastic︱Water Capacity: 1-2 days

Best Outdoor: CedarCraft Self-Watering Elevated Cedar Planter

CedarCraft Self-Watering Elevated Cedar Planter

Amazon

What We Like
  • Weather-resistant cedar

  • Elevated planter

  • Large water reservoir

  • Water level indicator

What We Don't Like
  • Assembly required

  • 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.

Dimensions: 22 x 48 x 30 inches︱Material: Cedar︱Water Capacity: 1-2 weeks

Final Verdict

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

Material

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 often resist rusting, warping, and fading.

Water Capacity

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.

Water Level Indicator

Many self-watering planters have water level indicators that can help growers know how much water is inside the planter. This 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. This helps you know when to refill and makes refilling easier.

FAQ
  • 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. This 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. These 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 specializing in home and family products. Katie 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.