Problems With Self-Watering Pots

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Problems With Self-Watering Pots

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The benefits of gardening, ah! The delight of raising your own plants is second to none! But self-watering pots could seem like a dream come true if you’re very busy or just forgetful. No need to water your plants daily? Count us in! 

Unfortunately like with anything, there are problems that might crop up while using self-watering pots. They can range from overwatering and leaking to giving rise to diseases through mosquitoes and mold! So are self-watering pots any good then? Let’s look into some problems and more in detail and we’ll also offer solutions to fix those problems right up!

Can You Overwater With Self-Watering Pots?

With self-watering pots, it is easy to overwater plants. Self-watering pots keep the soil continually moist by sucking water up from a container at the bottom of the pot. However, if the soil is overwatered, it leads to root rot and other problems. Therefore, it’s very important to regularly check the moisture level and adjust watering as needed. A layer of rocks or gravel placed at the bottom of the pot will help with drainage and keep water from collecting there. Remember that, even using self-watering pots; you must monitor your plants closely and give them the right amount of water.

Problems with Self-Watering Pots

Self-watering pots can be a foolproof way to water your plants but can also cause major problems. These include drainage problems, overwatering, and stunted growth. Also, the self-watering system can have problems that result in dry or saturated soil. 

Let’s take a look at some of the main problems self-watering pots can give rise to, 

A. Overwatering

Overwatering is one of the most common and initial problems you may experience with self-watering pots, take a look at what overwatering does, 

1. Soil Saturation

When water is always available for the plants, it’s easy to forget that the soil needs time to dry. As a result, the soil can get soggy, eventually depriving the roots of oxygen. 

2. Plant Root Rot

Self-watering containers cause overwatering, which can harm plants by causing root rot. The excessive moisture in the soil promotes the growth of bacteria and fungi, which can quickly result in the rotting of plant roots. This blocks the plant’s growth, its leaves turning yellow, and eventually its death. 

3. Algae Buildup

Algae love damn and humid environments; it can thrive better thanks to the water remaining in the pot’s reservoir for a long time. This leads to an ugly deposit of sticky green or brown material on the soil’s surface that can harm your plants. Besides attracting pests and illnesses, algae buildup can keep air and water from reaching the roots. 

B. Leakage

Self-watering pots leak, which is another of its most common issues. The pots are designed with a reservoir to store water brought into the soil as needed. The extra water may leak out through the pot’s bottom or sides if the reservoir is overflowing or if the pot is tilted, creating a mess and perhaps ruining floors or surfaces.

1. Excess Water on Floors

Self-watering pots often leak extra water onto floors and other surfaces, which is unpleasant and unsafe. This occurs when the pot overflows or the drainage holes block, causing water to collect and spill out of the pot. People can slip and injure themselves if you don’t clean it up properly.

2. Potential for Mold Growth

When water seeps out of the pot’s bottom, it often creates a moist environment that causes mold and mildew to grow. This can be problematic indoors with insufficient airflow. Mold growth looks dirty and can harm your health and your plants. 

3. Damage to Surfaces

Water damage to the surface can occur from an overflow or leak in the tank at the bottom of the pot. It can be difficult if the pot is placed on a delicate or sensitive surface, like a wooden floor or on expensive furniture. If ignored, this can cause serious damage and also mold or mildew growth. 

C. Poor Aeration

The soil can become saturated because of the pot’s reservoir being blocked preventing proper air circulation and root development. This results in root rot and other harmful problems for your plants.

1. Lack of Oxygen For Plant Roots

Another common problem caused by poor aeration is the lack of oxygen that hampers plant roots in self-watering pots. When water remains in the reservoir all the time, the soil could get soggy and have no air pockets for the roots to breathe.

2. Poor Nutrient Uptake

Poor aeration leads to poor plant nutrient uptake. This is because the saturated soil in self-watering pots lowers the air reaching the roots. Plants cannot absorb essential nutrients from the soil and cannot grow properly. 

3. Stunted Plant Growth

In a self-watering pot, soil can be saturated from the mix’s constant moisture, decreasing the amount of oxygen that gets to the roots. The plant suffers slow development or even dies because of the lack of oxygen. 

D. Breeding Ground for Mosquitoes

A major issue with self-watering pots is that they can create a mosquito breeding site. Stagnant water in the pot’s base is ideal for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. This can be especially dangerous if the pot is kept outside because stagnant water attracts mosquitoes. 

And you already know about all the terrible diseases associated with mosquitoes!

How To Fix Problems With Self-Watering Pots

How To Fix Problems With Self-Watering Pots

If your self-watering pots are giving you trouble, there are a few quick solutions to try. We guarantee that by following these tips, you can easily benefit from the goodness of self-watering pots with a little fix and patience.

1. Storing Self-Watering Pots Properly

Before storing the pots, clean and dry them thoroughly to stop mold or mildew buildup. The water tank should be drained, and any extra moisture should be wiped away. Once the pots are dry and clean, they should be kept out of direct sunlight or wet areas.  Self-watering pots should be stored properly to maintain the well-being of your plants.

2. Test Water Levels

Plants dry out when the water level is too low, while root rot and other problems can happen from excess water. Simply stick a wooden skewer or finger into the soil and feel for wetness to check the water levels. Consider drying the soil out if it’s too wet before adding more water. However, if it’s too dry, fill up the tank with water while keeping a close eye to not overwater. 

3. Monitor Leakage

Leakage is one of the biggest problems with self-watering pots. It could end up in everything from water damage to inconsistent watering if your pot leaks. First, ensure the reservoir is completely sealed and inspect the pot for any cracks or holes. To stop any leaks,  use a waterproof sealer. To avoid water leaking, ensure the pot sits on an even surface as well. 

4. Add Aeration Components

Improve drainage and avoid water buildup at the bottom of the pot by adding aeration materials like perlite or vermiculite to the soil. This helps the roots obtain the oxygen they need for growth and can support the health and happiness of your plants.

How do you keep mold out of self-watering planters?

Make sure the planter has proper drainage by checking that the drainage holes are not blocked, and that water can freely pass through them.

To improve drainage, use potting soil with a healthy balance of organic matter and aeration materials.

Overwatering your plants creates a soggy atmosphere that promotes the spread of mold.

Place your plants close to an open window or use a small fan to help move air around them.


 1. How To Clean A Self-Watering Pot?

Ans: To maintain healthy plants and avoid mold, mildew, and other problems, clean your self-watering pot needs regularly. Use the following steps to clean them:

  • Start by draining the water from the pot’s bottom water reservoir. Next, remove any debris and old water that may have gathered in the reservoir.
  • Remove the plants and set them aside. 
  • Wipe the inside and outside of the pot with a solution of one part vinegar to three parts water. Use a brush or sponge to remove dirt, debris, or mineral deposits.
  • Rinse the pot completely with clean water after washing it. 
  • Plant your plants in new soil after cleaning and drying the pot.
  • Lastly, add fresh water to the pot’s water reservoir at the base.

2. What do you put in the bottom of a self-watering planter?

Ans: While it’s not necessary to add anything other than water, soil, and maybe a large rock, you can still add some of these to the pot,

  • A layer of pebbles or gravel at the bottom helps with drainage and keeps the soil from becoming too moist. You can also use sand.
  • Adding a layer of perlite or vermiculite also helps with drainage and keeps the soil dry and fertile.
  • Add a layer of landscaping fabric, or a coffee filter can be positioned on top of the gravel or perlite layer to stop soil from slipping and clogging drainage.

 3. Why Do Self-Watering Pot Smell Bad?

Ans: Excessive watering is the most frequent cause of a rotten egg smell coming from plant pots. The bacterium producing the smell needs a lot of water to survive and reproduce. This excessive wetness causes the root to rot and damages the plant. You are overwatering the plant if there is a lot of water at the bottom of the pot or if foul, dark liquid drips out from the roots. To remove the stench, thoroughly clean and dry the pot and repot the plant with fresh soil and potting mixture.


While self-watering pots provide an efficient solution for gardeners who struggle to maintain their plants’ necessary moisture levels, they also present challenges. So before getting self-watering pots, consider their overwatering problems, mold growth, and mineral deposit problems. But fear not! With proper care, these problems can be reduced, and self-watering pots is a useful and effective solution to take care of your plants.

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Jack Daniel

I am Jack Daniel, and I have been gardening for more than 20 years now. I believe that with my years of experience, I can help you with backyard ideas and backyard product reviews. So, with the motto to help anyone facing gardening issues or wanting tips on enhancing the beauty of their backyards, I have created Backyard Muse. So, before anything else, I want to welcome you warmly to my site.


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