Crazy self-watering giant african violet pot idea

alison(6b/OH)October 22, 2004

Okay, so last night I'm perusing the plant catalogs, dreaming about what I want. And I came across something -- datura, or agapanthus, or something -- that would make my front porch perfect.

The culture requirements said it needs consistently moist soil. In the summer my front porch gets about 18 hours of sun a day, and even daily watering wouldn't keep container soil "consistently moist".

Rather than scrap the idea and look for something that will fit the conditions (because that would be logical and I am not!) I tried to think of a way to MacGyver it.

It occured to me that I could replicate those expensive African violet planters you see in the box store. You know; the ones with the ceramic pot glazed inside and out that you fill with water, and the porous unglazed ceramic insert you actually put the plant in.

Why can't I do that (on a much larger and much cheaper scale) by simply setting a terracotta pot inside a plastic container? As long as the outer cachepot was waterproof, wouldn't this work the same way as those AV pots?

Or -- would the soil in the inside pot become waterlogged, preventing the roots from breathing?

The depth of the water shouldn't make any difference; it either cuts off the oxygen or doesn't. And I don't think roots will grow where there is no oxygen. But then again, how many plants do I have rooting in water right now...

Do you think the thickness of the walls of the inner pot affect the amount of water that is taken in? (Adjusting for scale, the walls of the insert in the AV pot are two or three times thickers than the walls of a terracotta pot.)

I'm going to try this this summer, in part because I really want -- whatever it was that I really wanted when I was looking at the catalogs last night. But also because now I'm intrigued; this could make caring for the containers on the front porch a whole lot easier!

What do you think? Will this work? Any modifcations you'd make? I'd really appreciate any ideas you have!

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joefalco(z8 MB SC)

I don't know anything about african violets but if you needed constant wet soil like a bog I don't see why that wouldn't work.

WHat about getting one of those cheap fountain pumps to pump water from a resiveor into the pot and drain back into the resivor. Like the cheap desktop "zen" fountains

    Bookmark   October 22, 2004 at 10:23PM
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glenfawnmary(8 NacogdochesTX)

You could probably use a "wick" system using a large size cotton cable [from the fabric store maybe] if you really don't need a 'bog'soil. Might take more than 1 piece depending on the pot size but it works well for vacation watering...don't see why it would not work. Just need to put the water in one container and the plant in another. I know what I mean...just hope I was able to say it so it can be understood!:)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2004 at 12:20PM
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I don't think I want the soil as wet as a bog ( -- altho that creates all sorts of other crazy ideas) And the wick idea (I think) involves two separate containers, which is not quite what I envisioned.

But this is all food for thought, and I'll be experimenting with everything this summer!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 2:19PM
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So, why not buy a pot large enough to hold your plant AND a slightly smaller pot(with no drainage hole), plant the larger pot up, run your cotton cord thru the hole in the larger pot - up to the top level of the soil, fill the smaller pot with water to just below the bottom of the larger pot, and place the larger pot INSIDE the smaller pot, with the cord suspended in the water in the smaller pot? I have done this when rooting cuttings and it works like a charm!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2004 at 11:01PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I was with you until you said "place the larger pot INSIDE the smaller pot". How do you do that?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 10:52PM
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TwoMonths(So Calif)

I think it means putting a taller pot in a shorter one..ones that have the same kind of shape and size on the bottom. then it would leave a few inches free of pot to place water. think stacking glasses that have a wider band on the top...the top glass will not go all the way down into the next glass. duh, I think the other explaination might be clearer than mine. June

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 12:22AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

why not take a hose splitter and run a thin line to your planter and punch a pinprick into it, then have a drain off of your planter that heads to other plants that can use any excess water, say set up a small tomatto planter below the violets.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 12:16AM
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I used to grow African Violets, and I used this method to water when I was gone for extended periods of time:

Fill a plastic container (I usually used old margarine tubs) almost full of water. Punch a hole in the top big enough for a cord to go through. For a 6 inch pot, use 3 plies of 4 ply acrylic yarn to wick into the plant container, and then down the hole into the water. Place your pot on top of the container, and that should water it for about a week. Of course, outside in the heat, you'll run up against evaporation and such, so check it every three days.

OH! forgot...put three pennies into the water keeps the fungus out.

I guess you could put the plastic container into something prettier, like maybe a larger pot, to make it more attractive outside.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 4:14PM
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