Saintpaulia ionantha, commonly known as African Violet, thrives in consistently moist soil. However, like most plants, they hate overwatering. To make matters worst, getting their leaves too wet can lead to a fungal spot. Luckily, using a self-watering pot can ensure you are neither drowning nor underwatering your African violet.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know on how to use self-watering pots for African Violets, as well as give you an unbiased and honest review of the best self-watering containers for African Violets. We’ve also included a thorough and complete buying guide to narrow down your choices.
Check out our African Violet Series
Things You Should Consider When Buying Self-Watering Pots for African Violets
Self-watering pots have one purpose – to keep your plants, whether they be succulent or flowering plants like an African violet, hydrated. The differences are how they draw up (capillary action) and distribute the water into the soil, their water reservoir capacity, and how easy they are to use on a daily basis.
Of course, price, size, design, and materials are also deciding factors when choosing a self-watering pot for African violets.
Self-watering pots can either be plastic or ceramic.
Plastic is lighter, more budget-friendly, and easier to move. The downside is most plastic pots for plants are flimsy and thin. Most are not made to last when placed outdoors and are exposed to extreme weather conditions.
If you really prefer plastic pots, look for at least 3mm-4mm of thickness and with UV treatment.
On the other hand, glazed ceramic self-watering pots are the complete opposite; they are more expensive, heavier, and more effort to move. They are also prone to chipping – if you are not careful.
Some self-watering pots are made from terracotta. They share the same advantages and disadvantages as ceramic pots. The only difference is that terracotta’s porous surface allows excess moisture to escape and evaporate and, in return, helps your plants to breathe.
Since African violets prefer their soil moist, look for terracotta self-watering pots with an outer glass that locks the moisture in.
Water Reservoir Capacity
In order to replenish your African violet’s thirst without requiring you to lift a finger, self-watering pots, whether ceramic or plastic, have their own water reservoir. Self-watering pots have their reservoirs integrated, usually at the planter’s base, to minimize the footprint.
Basically, you have two pots – one grow pot for your African violet and another for the water.
The capacity of the water tank dictates how often you will need to refill the self-watering pot. However, keep in mind that self-watering pots use a pot-in-pot design. So, going for a smaller size means that you will be trading in the amount of water the tank can hold.
Ease of Use
If you are wondering how to use African violet self-watering pots, the answer is simple. You just fill the reservoir with water, wet the wick, and place your African violet in the grow pot. When your plant expended the water or if the water level is already low, you simply remove the grow pot and refill the water tank.
Most self-watering pots have a wicking system like a cotton rope that draws water from the reservoir and carries it to the plant’s soil. When the soil is already dried up, there’s no need to water your African violet yourself; the roots, with the help of the wicking system, will get more water from the base reservoir.
However, some self-watering pots do not use a wicking system at all. Instead, the soil is in contact with the water tank. There are also some self-watering planters like terracotta that do not need either the soil or roots to be in direct contact with water. This is because its porous material allows the water to pass through and be absorbed by the soil.
Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Self-Watering Pots for African Violets
With the buying factors out of the way, let’s now go over the best self-watering pots for African violets. The products listed below excel in terms of looks, durability, price-to-value ratio, and of course, in keeping your African violets well-hydrated.
Our top five picks are not arranged in any order.
Willow & Muse Face Self-Watering Pot
If you want a self-watering pot for your African violet that can also be an indoor statement piece, this white ceramic planter from Willow & Muse is certainly a conversation starter.
Ridding away from the usual and boring circular pot design, this self-watering pot for African violets has a sophisticated and modern face design on its exterior. But that’s not the only thing you’ll love with this pot.
How-to Use Willow & Muse’s Wicking System
Willow & Muse cleverly integrated a no-fuss wicking system tucked away inside the planter, connecting the soil to the base water reservoir. It may seem complicated to set up at first, but you just need to complete a couple of steps:
- Fill the plastic grow pot (included with the purchase, by the way) with soil.
- Wet the highly-absorbent wick.
- Insert the wick into the grow pot, with its end hanging evenly to the water reservoir base.
- Add more soil into the grow pot and place your African violet.
- Add ¾ water to the base tank.
- Place the grow pot into the planter.
Once you have it set up, its wicking system will automatically draw up water from the tank to your African violet, helping your plant stay hydrated and its soil moist.
In terms of refilling the tank, it is more straightforward and will take a couple of seconds. Once your African violet drinks all the water, simply take out the grow pot and refill the reservoir.
Despite its clever wicking system and unique face design, its included removable grow pot is not the best quality. It is thin and flimsy, which can be a problem when you take it out to refill the water reservoir, especially when you grip it with one hand. One workaround is to replace it with a sturdier plastic grow pot.
Other than that, Willow and Muse’s Face Self-Watering Pot is a quirky planter that can keep your African violet hydrated.
Willow and Muse Self-Watering Pot
With a sophisticated and modern face design, this one is sure to get you complements. The Willow and Muse planter contains a wicking system to keep your plant moist.
Atri Ceramic Self-Watering Planter
Like Willow and Muse, Atri’s self-watering planter also has a ceramic outer planter. The difference is that the inner pot is made from dolomite clay. And this choice of material is the reason why you won’t find any wicking system with the Atri self-watering planter.
The dolomite clay inner pot is unglazed and has a porous surface. This allows the water from the outer pot, which is also the tank reservoir, to pass through slowly to the plant’s soil. As for the outer pot, it is made from ceramic and is glazed to keep the water and moisture in.
How-to Use Arti’s Self Watering African Violet Planter
Since it doesn’t have a wicking system, setting up the Atri self-watering planter is faster and more convenient than Willow & Muse. You just need to:
- Fill the outer ceramic pot with water.
- Put your African violet and soil into the dolomite clay inner planter.
- Place the inner planter into the outer pot.
Expert Tip: Keep in mind that you should never fill the outer ceramic pot with water all the way to the rim. You should also use a potting mix with excellent drainage and aerate well. By doing so, you can prevent overwatering and mold growth in the soil or water.
As for this self-watering pot’s downside, you’ll need to be extra careful as both the inner and outdoor pots are fragile.
Atri Ceramic Self-Watering Planter
This ceramic planter is one of the most straightforward. There is both an inner and outer pot, and water sits in between.
T4U Geometric Plastic Self-Watering Plant Pot
T4U’s geometric self-watering plant pot addresses Atri’s downside by opting for an all-plastic build rather than clay or ceramic. And, it’s not the flimsy and thin plastic used in Willow & Muse’s indoor pot either.
Instead, this plant pot uses a 4mm thickened polypropylene plastic to keep the planter upright. This thickness also ensures that you can prevent it from being deformed when placed outdoors and exposed to extreme weather conditions.
And unlike the Atri self-watering plant, the design of T4U is more modern and tasteful, thanks to its geometric design in a matte finish.
But what really stood out for us is the T4U’s inner pot, which is technically not really a planter. Instead, it is a plate with five rooting plugs that extends to the water reservoir.
This design choice can be odd, especially when you compare it with the other self-watering pots on this list. However, there is one advantage. There’s no need to worry about the water tank capacity. You can add water as much as you want to cut back refilling frequency and ensure your plant is hydrated for weeks!
The inner plate, unfortunately, has a drawback too. It can be tricky to refill the outer pot. You’ll need to remove the entire plant (with the soil included) just to add water. Since it’s just a plate, expect it to be a messy process!
Our Water Refill Workaround
If you really like this planter but hate the refilling procedure, here is a workaround that you can do:
- Before putting the plant, soil, and plate inside the outdoor planter, measure the water you’ll be putting into the reservoir.
- Pour the water into the planter.
- Get a PVC pipe and insert it through the planter. Opt for a thinner diameter so it won’t take too much soil space.
- Put the plate, soil, and plant into the planter.
When your plant uses up all the water from the tank, use a funnel and add water through the tube. Keep in mind that this workaround also means that the water from the tank can evaporate.
Geometric Self-Watering Pot
This matte geometric pot is modern and tasteful. It comes with a drainage plant for the plant to absorb water through its roots.
Phoenix Vine Terracota Self-Watering Pot
Like the Atri, Phoenix Vine’s pot doesn’t have a wicking system. Its inner pot absorbs water from the outdoor planter. The difference is Phoenix Vine uses unglazed terracotta for the inner basket and glass for the outdoor pot.
This design choice doesn’t only look more appealing and unique, but it is also great for you and your African violet. Here are the advantages of this self-watering pot by Phoenix Vine:
- Terracotta boasts high water permeability, meaning it soaks up water and then slowly releases it to your plant’s roots.
- There’s no need to second-guess how much water your plant has left because its outer glass planter gives you an unobstructed view of the water levels.
- Unlike the T4U geometric planter, refilling is straightforward – you just take out the inner terracotta pot.
Of course, this planter has some drawbacks too. You will need to soak the terracotta in water for five minutes first. Since terracotta slowly absorbs up water, we also suggest soaking your African Violet’s soil in water before putting it in the inner plot. And, as expected, terracotta and glass have low points when it comes to durability.
If you are going to use this planter with water-thirsty plants like primrose, opt for the T4U geometric pot instead.
Terracotta Self-Watering Pot
One of the most appealing and unique, this is a great choice for your African violet. This self-watering pot soaks water through the terracotta and then slowly releases it to your plant’s roots
T4U Macaron Plastic Self-Watering Planter
Capping off our top 5 picks for the best self-watering pots for African violets is another product from T4U. This self-watering model is a great alternative to the geometric planter if you are on a budget but don’t want to deal with the messy water refilling procedure.
This T4U self-watering planter uses a wick system similar to Willow & Muse’s pot. You add water to the base reservoir, and a cotton wick rope will transfer the water from the tank to the plant’s soil.
The difference is the inner basket for your African violet is thicker. It also has vertical slats cuts to promote airflow.
Unfortunately, the T4U Macaron Plastic Self-Watering Planter’s slats are not evenly cut or not properly punctured.
T4U Macaron Plastic Self-Watering Planter
One of the most affordable self-watering pots, this planter is based off a wicking system — allowing your plant to stay moist.
Keeping Your African Violets Hydrated
Self-watering planters are the solution for forgetful gardeners. They give your African violets the water they need to stay happy, and bloom. With a self-watering pot and a little fertilizer, they will thrive.
And remember, learning how to use self-watering pots for African violets is not complicated! All you need is the best self-watering pot, fill its tank with water, put the grow pot into the planter, and your African violet will stay alive.