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Self watering pots

Posted by noplantwiz NC (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 6, 11 at 16:34

I put a african violet in one of the self watering pots. It took off growing and got so big and had so many blooms on it. Now I have noticed that it has kind of stopped blooming and now the leaves, starting around the bottom or getting soggy and rotting off. I am afraid this is a sign of crown or root rock. Are you suppose to keep these pots full of water all the time or let it go almost dry before refilling? I know when it is full the plant soil is REAL wet and then as it goes down it gets dry so when you refill it it gets REAL wet again and that is not good either.So how often do you add water. I have my very first new plant that I started from a leaf and have that plant in a self water too and it stay so wet as well. Please help?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Self watering pots

Several of my plants are thriving in self-watering pots, even though the mix looks very moist. I keep water in the reservoir all the time. There are a couple of tricks to making them happy. The potting mix needs to be light with lots of air spaces so the roots don't drown. You can get this by adding extra perlite and vermiculite to the normal potting mix and not packing it down when potting. The other thing is not to put the plants into too big of a container. The pot should be a maximum of 1/3 of the plant diameter.

Right now though it sounds like your plants are drowning/beginning to rot and need to come out of the pots until the violets recover. The good news is often the plants sacrifice the oldest bottom leaves first, so a plant can often be saved if the problem is caught in time.

There are also differences in the water transfer capabilities of different self-watering pots. Some work perfectly while others allow in too much or too little water. If, after you change the mix, you still have the problem, you might need to use the pots for something else or use them as decorative covers.


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RE: Self watering pots

Thanks for the advice. So I should take them out of the self watering pot for a while and repot it in just a regular pot for awhile? Also I do use African Violet potting soil. I can't remember which brand but it is a name brand one not like an off brand but maybe adding something to it would help.


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RE: Self watering pots

Yes, I'd put them in regular pots for awhile until they recover. I use Miracle Grow African Violet potting mix, but even so, for self-watering containers or wicking, you still need to add extra perlite and vermiculite to keep the roots healthy. Good luck on your plants - please let us know how things turn out.


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RE: Self watering pots

This may not help but I had 2 self watering pots for years and I experienced similar problems. I found that keeping less water in the reservoir helped. In my case I put enough water to have the bottom 3/4 inches of the inset wet. Good luck.


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RE: Self watering pots

Thanks for all the replys. What kind of string to do use if you want to water with the wick deal? I used to have a pot with a wick but don't now. Does it need to be a certain material or a certain size/thickness?


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RE: Self watering pots

Depends on the size of ythe violet - if it is a full grown standard - an acrylic yarn is good, if it is a baby - either mason twine #18 or a couple of plyes of yarn. You can cut a piece of pantyhose for wicking - a skinny one. Just no wool or cotton - they rot.

DO NOT BUY CERAMIC SELF WATERING POTS. they are expensive and they kill AVS better than Roundup.

Only very dedicated growers with tons of patience and time on their hands, very light soil, and very accurate adding water - not too much, not too little do well with them. There are simpler ways to grow them - and yes - wicking is one of them.

Irina


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RE: Self watering pots

Irina, Thanks for the info. You said no cotton and I was thinking about twine and thinking that was cotton so guess it is good I asked. I had seen one, one time and it had a flat piece of something in it and I am not sure what that wick was. Panyhose would draw up water? I would have never thought to use that! As for the cermaic watering pots.I thought most of them were ceramic so are you really saying the watering pots don't work well? In fact the ones I have are some my Mom made in ceramics! I have for the first time ever got 3 plants started from leaves. In the past they have always died on me when I tried putting them in soil but these are doing well so for. But then this big one in the watering pot was giving me trouble.


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RE: Self watering pots

Wiz -

there are different methods to grow - and if you are successfull with what you use - there is no reason to change it. But - usually the newbies buy their first violet in a big box store, then they buy the soil that is marked African Violet soil from the same store - which is way too heavy - and then they buy a pretty glazed double se4lf watering pot for $10 - repot it - and the plant is dead in 10 days. Some people can do it - but for most of us - plastic works the best - it doesn't absorb salts from the soil, it is light and it is easy to wash. If you put them on the wicks - provided that the soil is very light to match the wicking method - growing becomes care free.

Yes - a strip of pantyhose makes a good wick.

Irina


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RE: Self watering pots

Irina, you said plastic is usually better. Do you mean in general or did you mean plastic slef watering pots. I don't think I have seen plastic self waters for the AFV. I am on my way to the store to get some of the things mentioned to add to my soil.


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RE: Self watering pots

Wiz - the best for me is a 30c or about azalea 4" plastic pot for standards - which is pretty close to what they sell the plants in - except it is not as flexible.

The best self-watering pots are Oyama - and they are plastic - but for me the best performance is with a regular plastic pots, wicks, trays and mats. And fluorescent tubes. ANd they all grow in my basement.

I.

Here is a link that might be useful: my source of supplies


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RE: Self watering pots

I guess I haven't heard of the Oyama waterng pots as I have never seen them. These are like the other pots that have the outer pot that holds the water and the inner one for the plant right? I did go to look at something to add to my soil. I ended up getting a bag of the vermiculite. I hated to buy huge bags of all this different things just for my two violets but I was hoping this one would help.
Irina you mentioned trays and mats? I assume the trays are to just sit under the plant but what about a mat? I thought when using a wick to water that you had your pot over something that had water in it to sock up to your plant. I am going to do some work on my plants tomorrow.


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RE: Self watering pots

I was reading thru other post on AF's and I am seeing more talk of using or adding perlite . So I am thinking maybe I should take back the vermiculite and exchange for the perlite. It was just when you think of what that looked like, to me it looks like little styro foam balls, verticulite seems better.


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RE: Self watering pots

Wiz -
the purpose of perlite is to make soil more airy - it is an expanded volcanic glass. If you find medium coarse perlite - it is better - and yes - it is more important than vermiculite.

If you investigate more the website of violetshowcase.com - you will find how Oyama post look like - or just google them. Same place to look on trays and mats.

I think you need a violet buddy who lives not far from you and who can show you the ropes. Tons of violet clubs in NC, check on avsa.org option affiliates - and look into club near you.

2 violets is not enough. It is like having 2 forks in a drawer, while you need knives and spoons and more forks.;-))

Good Luck

irina

PS you have Bluebird greenhouse in Apex NC. They probably carry all the supplies you need. Their soil is on the heavy side, better for bottom watering than for wicking and it is very good. But if you want to try wicks - you can always add 1/3 of perlite to it.


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RE: Self watering pots

I guess I need to go to a greenhouse as I didn't find what I needed atWalmart to begin with and then had gone to Lowes and found what I got and they only had the one kind of perlite. WhenI looked at the perlite and the vermiculite it just looked more like soil so I went with that.I will go back and get the other. I do have more then 2 AF but I only had the two in the self waters. The others are in the little plastic containers they came in and then I have 2 new ones that I started off leaves and they are in the little plastic cups you dye Easter Eggs in. I know abut the wicks and about watering them by sitting them in water for like 20 minutes and letting them drink from the bottom but what about the mat deal? Is that the same thing? I did google the Oyama pots. I have never seen those before. Oh I do have two more plants starting in little glasses so I will be potting those soon! Thanks for all your advice.


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RE: Self watering pots

Wiz -

I would say it is just a beginning. You show all the signs of becoming a violet afficionado and winner of the Shows. We all started like that - and what now? Light shelves all over the place, vacations on Conventions, friends all over the world...

I.


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RE: Self watering pots

Ok. Went back to twon today and got the perlite and already had bought the vermiculite so I am ready to repot my violets. So it is a 1:to1:to1 ratio with these two and then the AF soil? ALso if I decide to do the wicking, I know you have to have something to sit your pots on to have the water in for the wicks. So what do some of you, that do wicks, have your pots sitting on for that? I have never heard of using mats, that you mentioned Irina. IS that what you use for wicks? If so how do you do it? Thanks


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RE: Self watering pots

Wiz -

I need mats because we have it way too dry in Denver. NC seems naturally better for the AV growing.

I posted a link
"my source of supplies" several posts above - look at page 3. These are the trays and grid supports - I usually make them myself out of the fluorescent eggcrate sheets bought in Lowes or HD - but you probably need to purchase one somewhere to understand how it works.
I do not put the plants with wicks hanging on these trays - I put a mat made out of an acrylic throw on the top of the grid - for humiidty increase.

Wicks - look at the ideas in Rachel's Reflections under"Wicks". I use mason twine #18 from HD or acrylic baby yarn. Twine doesnt take too much water = but it is very prone to drying and salting, Acrylic yarn doesn't dry - but it can suck more water than I need. So - depends on the size of the plant.

Irina

Here is a link that might be useful: Rachel reflections


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RE: Self watering pots

Irina, I just looked thru the supply page you had posted.I must have missed that before. Boy they do have everything you would want or need. That is great.
As for the soil mixture though. What is the best mix to make your self. I got the perlite and the vermiculite and some peat moss and of coarse the AF potting soil. But I was wondering about the vermiculite as it says it helps to hold water and if your plants are to wet then would you want to add/use something that will hold the water more? But what is teh best amout to use and of which ones?


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RE: Self watering pots

Wiz -

the recommended ix is 1:1:1 peat -- perlite - vermiculite, plus a pinch of dolomite lime to up the Ph to 6,5, microelements and a bit of horticultural charcoal. That's why I buy my soil in the Violet Showcase by big bags - they do it for me.

This mix is a variation of a Cornell soilless mix - you can google it in details. But I usually play with it some more - add more perlite for streptocarpus - and add some milled sphagnum moss for Sinningias and Kohlerias. Plus I put a layer of coarse perlite on a bottom - to increase the air flow to the roots.If you do not uuse mats - probably uyou are OK without extra perlite. Thing is - you start with something- and then experiment or try somebody's else idea - but only on 1-2 plants to see if it works or not.

I do not know anything about a coarse AF soil - because usually the inexpensive brands of potting soil have composted bark or woodchips in it - and it is not good - wet wood decomposes making soil mix very acid and it absorbs nitrogen from the soil. Even when you buy Scotts or Miracle Grow AV soil - it is never consistent - but usually it is mostly peat. I would avoid a cheap allpurpose potting soil.

I.


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RE: Self watering pots

I guess I am kind of amazed that the Miracle Grow AF soil would be so bad as I always thought they were a good brand and have always used their products for everything. Another things is that I am suprised by this "soiless" potting. I would have never thought to not using at least some AF soil and add the good things to it. One more question though, about the "mats". What do you use those for? I thought maybe to add more humidity to your plants? But then does it go like in the bottom of the trays when you use the wick trays or what. I didn't see anything on them on the page you sent me. I do have one plant that I have out a wick in but I noticed teh soil seems real dry to touch so I am not sure it is working. I am getting ready to leave for a couple of weeks so I want to get my plants on a watering system so hubby won't kill them while I am gone!


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RE: Self watering pots

Soilless means no soil from the yard, that's it.

Miracle grow is a commercial brand - and I would say that it is not too bad - but - they are not obliged to keep the proportion of ingredients consistent - plus - peat is way the cheapest of the ingredients - so that's what is mostly made of. That's why even it is called African Violet soil mix - I wouldn't grow African Violets in it without adjusting. Don't you think it is absurd - that it is a ready made mix - and you cannot use it right from the bag...

Your wick - if your soil is dry to touch and the pot is light - the wick is not working. Thread another wick - take a length of an acrylic yarn - 2 heights of the pot - wet it first - and thread it through your pot - with a piece of wire or crochet hook. See how it works.

irina


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RE: Self watering pots

Thanks for all the replys. What kind of string to do use if you want to water with the wick deal? I used to have a pot with a wick but don't now.

Here is a link that might be useful: petty


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RE: Self watering pots

Oh my! So I am reading up on all this info and now see that I now need to go get some lime and some charcoal to add to this! I can see this is a big time job! I don't know if I have ever seen the soiless mix in a bag already mixed up, in a store I mean. I can see why you would order it off line if you find it. This can really add up.


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RE: Self watering pots

Hi,
I have used Oyamma pots for my gesneriads but not with any AV's. I have all my plants wicked in plastic pots using acrylic yarn.
The mix that i use is a wicking mix that I purchase from Cape Cod Violetry. It needs nothing more added to it and works really well for me.
Fred in NJ


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