Oh poor, poor potted plant. Some days we drown you, on others your soil is riddled with cracks like the Sahara Desert...until that sad day when life departs your roots and your crispy leaves fall on the windowsill.
Whatever excuse you have -- traveling, forgetful, or just a thumb the shade of noir, don't despair. It's a brand new day in the wild new frontier of container gardening, and self-watering planters are a no-brainer for plant serial killers.
But until recently most of these planters looked like some kind of Frankenstein science experiment with tubes and bottles and DIY know-how that not everyone has.
The eight self-watering planters here mold form and function to be stunning design objects in your home -- with minimal expertise and no assembly required.
1. Grobal Self-Watering Planter
The perky high-gloss plastic Grobal adds a splash of minimalism to that empty windowsill, barren office work space, and more with its modern sculptural shape -- and since it's designed by superstar Karim Rashid you can boast about the design pedigree to boot.
The pot comes with plant food and growing medium which is placed in the top chamber. Peek through a discrete side window to check out the water supply, housed in the reservoir below. Press the circle on the side, and voilà, a chamber pops open for you to add more water.
The manufacturer says Grobal works well for mint, chives, lavender, cacti or bamboo, orchids and violets. Available in two sizes (7-inch and 4.5-inch) and several colors.
Says Rashid, via Inhabitat:
The Grobal originated from an ambition to create a techno-organic base for nurturing life and cultivating growth. The digital age we live in no longer accepts the semantics of ancient craft and demands multi-sensorial experiences – any object we bring in our house should be an expression of our modern being and development. The iconic egg-like object functions as the foundation for new life – it is a material visualization of digital and sensual technology and nature synthesizing.($15 or $17 on Amazon)
2. Ikea Jubel Self-Watering Plant Pot
This is not the first self-watering pot experiment from IKEA -- there is the Nektarin, a horrid grey industrial-looking thing that seems way too serious for its absurdly citrusy-sounding name, and there is the PS Fejö, which could be mistaken for a rolling mop bucket.
But this is the first one you don't need to hide behind the over grown banana tree.
Released in April and designed by Eva Sjödin, the glass and tinted lacquer Jubel Self-Watering Plant Pot has a nifty color feature that allows you to choose from three.
The color is displayed through the hole you add water in, and can be changed from green to yellow to red, just by turning the internal pot so that the color you want shows up -- giving you increased decor flexibility. Water is sucked up through the 100 percent cotton thread.
At four inches in diameter and five inches high (weighing just one pound), the Jubel is not going to work for the big daddy plants, but style -- these pots have it.
3. Brookstone Self-Watering Planter
A two week vacation? No problem: Leave your plants in the care of this sleek rectangular system, the 15.75-inch long by 5.75-inch wide Brookstone Self-Watering Planter, available in eight colors.
The water reservoir -- separated from soil by the company's "specially formulated" granular material which also provides nutrition for plants -- is connected to a unique funnel system. ($40, Brookstone)
4. Misco Flare Self Watering Planter
If you want to swap out all your plants for self-watering systems and keep your design theme consistent, the polypropylene plastic Misco Flare Self Watering Planter is your best choice, since it comes in so many size options: 5-inch, 7-inch, 9-inch, 11-inch, 13-inch, and 16-inch.
Four earth-toned colors consist of bronze, clay, avocado, and latte. These planters are also very light -- for all sizes Amazon says just 2 pounds for shipping.
Like the Brookstone planter, the Misco Flare doesn't need watering for up to two weeks, according to the manufacturer, since it draws water (poured in through the quick-view lip that also shows water level) to the roots from the large built-in reservoir. ($6.48-22, Amazon)
5. Tiered Self-Watering Planter
There doesn't seem to be many tiered self-watering planters on the market, and I don't know why not, since who doesn't like a tower of blooms!
This one is of course manufactured in Italy, the country that just gets design. It takes 10 small plants less than 15-inches wide (pots are 14.5 inches wide) and wheels mean you can roll it from inside to out or change location on a whim. Water infiltrates via a wick system hidden in the bottom of each pot.
6. Eva Solo Orchid Pot
Orchids have a reputation for being very sensitive, but I have around 14 healthy ones, and have found as long as you keep in mind that they absolutely hate standing in water, and must have a drainage system, they are actually quite hardy, and don't need much water. The Eva Solo Orchid Pot is specifically geared towards orchids, but I don't see why it wouldn't work for other house plants.
Available in simple round forms of black or white glazed faience, the Eva Solo Orchid Pot has a nylon wick at the base, which allows your orchids to sip just as much as they need without swamping them: Simply pour the water through the hole in the side. ($69, Counterpoint Home)
7. Eva Solo Self-Watering Herb Pots
For some reason, I just can't keep rosemary alive. Probably because it doesn't get enough light, but the Eva Solo Self-Watering Herb Pot will at least rule out the water issue, thanks to the nylon "roots" at the bottom of the pot that draw water up.
Subtly transparent, this pot also puts the plant in the spotlight, verses the pot.
The manufacturer says:
The vase reservoir can hold enough water for the plant to only need watering once a week, and possibly less frequently, depending on the circumstances.
($42, Emmo Home)
8. Self-Watering Wicker-Look Planter
I've spent this article talking about inside planters, but hey, maybe you want one that goes inside and out: The long tapered cube Cottage Planter From Plow & Hearth is conveniently suitable for both.
Available in mocha and white, in two sizes (16-inch square by 30-inch or 12-inch square by 22-inch,) the planter looks wicker -- but is actually weather-and UV-resistant woven plastic resin -- and can make your plants "entirely self-sufficient for 1-12 weeks, depending on the size of your planter and plant," according to the company, with the included separator piece that creates a reservoire of water at the base of the plant.
Perks include a removable liner and integrated handle for easy lifting out for watering, transport, or root trimming.