How To Make A Self-Watering Container

How To Make A Self-Watering Container [With Video]


Before making a self-watering container, we should know first what a self-watering container is. Self-watering containers are not the same as your regular planting containers. When you use a self-watering container, the water is sucked up by the roots from the bottom.

Self-watering containers are made up of two containers, one is the planting container and the other is the reservoir. You can use any container as long as they’re the same size and are stackable.

A self-watering container typically has 4 parts:

– First is the reservoir container which is the outer container, it is where you will place the wicking basket, planting container, and the pipe. There are drilled holes around the bottom of the reservoir container.

– Second is the planting container which is the inner container and it is where you will put your plants. It has a 3 ½” hole at the bottom in the middle and a 1 ¼” hole drilled at the edge of the container where the pipe will pass through.

– Third is the wicking basket, you will place the wicking basket inside the reservoir.

– Fourth is the pipe; put the pipe through the planting container down to the reservoir container. This will serve as the water inlet.

Advantages of a self-watering container:

Retains Nutrients

The nutrients will stay within the container because of the closed environment. Your plants will grow healthy because they get a lot of nutrients.

Saves Water     

No water will be wasted because when the water from the container overflows it will directly go to the side jug attached to your self-watering containers, then you can just pour it up again to your plants.

Saves Time

You don’t have to water your plants every now and then when you’re using self-watering containers. The reservoir will reserve the water until the plant is ready to use them.

Your plants will grow healthy

Watering the container plants regularly will make them grow healthy. Drying out poor drainage is a major problem for container plants. Self-watering containers have a great drainage system and your plants will never dry out.

How to Make a Self-Watering Container

The following are instructions on how to make a self-watering container using 2 (5-gallon) buckets. This DIY self-watering container does not include a pipe because a hole will be drilled at the side of the outer bucket just under the bottom of the inner bucket which will serve as a way to put water in the reservoir. This hole will also serve as a way to check the water level in the reservoir and as an overflow hole for excess water.



1/4″ bit

3 1/2″ hole saw for metal wood

1 1/4″ hole saw for metal and wood


2 food grade 5 gallon containers – 1 for planting container and one for reservoir container

1/2 deli container for wicking basket


  1. Drill holes around the deli container using the 1/4″ drill bit
  2. Drill a hole at the bottom of the planting container, attach the 3 1/2″ hole saw first before drilling.
  3. Drill holes around the bottom of the planting container using the 1/4″ drill bit for drainage.
  4. Place the wicking basket in the middle of the reservoir container.
  5. Now put the planting container in the reservoir container, make sure that you align it with the wicking basket with the hole in the middle.
  6. You can use duct tape to attach the wicking basket to the reservoir container, but it’s not necessary.
  7. Hold the containers up to the light so that you can see through the reservoir container and see where the planting container is. Drill a hole in the reservoir container below where the planting container is, use the 1/4″ hole saw. You will use this hole to water your plant.

That’s it, you’re done. Fill the wicking basket with potting soil, pack it lightly to eliminate huge air packets but be careful not to make it too compact. This soil will wick the water from the reservoir to the main container. Place the inner bucket atop the wicker basket and fill it with potting soil. The soil in the inner bucket and the soil in the wicking basket should have good contact. Fill the reservoir with water and you are ready to plant in your self-watering container.