Automatic Watering System for Indoor Plants: DIY and Other Options

Key Takeaways

  • Making your own self-watering system is not difficult; you can use everyday household products to build your own automatic watering system.
  • DIY self-watering systems are either a wick system or a drip system.
    • DIY drip water system using used plastic bottles
    • DIY wick watering system
  • Benefits of DIY watering systems include:
    • Self-watering systems save water because they use a minimal amount of water that goes directly to roots.
    • Ensures your plants get enough water and dramatically reduces over- and under-watering which ward off related plant diseases.
    • Eliminates daily plant watering.
    • Cheaper than going out and buying a watering system and reduces waste by using recycled materials.
    • Finally and most importantly, it lets you leave your plants unattended or go on vacation without worrying about them drying out.
  • Non-DIY water systems include self-watering pots*, soaker hose systems, capillary mats and more complex smart-home automatic systems.
*Click here to skip down to the self-watering planter we use for most of our own plants. It's been a game changer for us as it's 'water and leave it'.

Keeping indoor plants healthy and watered can be a challenge, especially when life gets busy. One way to ensure proper care for your indoor plants is by setting up an automatic plant watering system.

An automatic plant watering system allows plants to get the appropriate amount of water without much hassle and frees up time for plant owners to focus on other aspects of their daily routines, especially when they are on vacation.

DIY automatic watering system with plastic bottlePin

These plant watering systems can be homemade or purchased. Some examples range from simple self-watering pots to more advanced systems involving drip irrigation and smart-home technology.

To determine which system is best for your plants, you’ll have to look at what your garden needs specifically – especially how often to water your indoor plants.

In this post, we’ll explore different automatic watering techniques, such as wick watering, drip systems, and capillary mats.

We will also give you options for building your own DIY automatic watering system, or you can take the easy route by purchasing a non-DIY automatic watering system.

DIY Self-Watering Systems

diy indoor automatic watering systemPin

The benefits of a DIY automatic plant watering system are:

  • it costs almost nothing,
  • easy to make yourself at home,
  • environmentally friendly because you can recycle old bottles,
  • provides your plants with the right amount of water,
  • waters your plants automatically.

The last point is the most important as it can be particularly helpful during vacation times when plants are left unattended.

There are many creative methods for constructing a DIY self-watering system, but the two major watering system concepts are a wick watering system and a drip watering system.

DIY Wick watering System

A wick watering system is a simple method of watering your plants that doesn’t require any fancy parts. A wick is inserted into the soil of the plant, and another end is in a water reservoir.

As the soil dries out, the wick draws water from the reservoir and places it directly in the soil.

These are ideal for shorter-term setups as the reservoir needs to be full for it to work, so many people use them over a few weeks or less. Water is only needed otherwise you may end up with root rot.

DIY Drip watering System

A drip emitter allows this type of system to work, effectively dripping water slowly and steadily while it’s one. This type of hose is set up directly beneath the soil so that the water reaches the roots, which is the main source that requires irrigation.

A drip water system can be as simple as one hose or run around the entire garden, depending on what you need from it.

Unless attached to a timer, this setup requires you to turn it on and off at the faucet, which can be done once or twice a week. Make sure you don’t over-

How to Make Your Own DIY Watering System

Automatic Watering System for a small houseplantPin

Making your own plant watering system can save you money and help your plants stay healthy.

You can make a simple watering system that is easy to set up and take care of with just a few supplies. Whether you choose a drip system or a wick system, the steps are pretty easy to follow.

DIY Wick Watering System

Easy DIY Wick automatic watering System for potted plantsPin

Making your own wick water system is one of the easiest short-term irrigation solutions around.

If you have succulents that need taking care of while you’re away, try out this simple DIY project to keep them hydrated and healthy.


  • Plastic bucket
  • Nuts or bolts for weights
  • Cotton shoelaces (one for each small succulent pot)

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Tie a bolt to the end of every shoelace you plan on using.
  2. Soak the shoelace in water so it’s completely drenched.
  3. Put the bolt end of the shoelace in the plastic bucket.
  4. Place the bucket higher than your plant containers and fill it to the top with water.
  5. Give your succulents a light watering and then bury the non-bolt end of the shoelaces a few inches into the soil.
  6. The water will drip into the soil over time slowly, meaning you don’t have to water them.

DIY Drip Water System With Used Plastic Bottles

water drip automatic watering systemPin

Creating an indoor DIY automatic plant watering system with plastic bottles is a simple and effective method to ensure your plants receive the necessary water during your absence – plus it is cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

This bottle hack is ideal for small container gardens or plants that need regular, but not excessive, watering such as peace lilies, snake plants, pothos, philodendrons, and spider plants.


  • Plastic bottle
  • Drill to make holes in the plastic
  • An old sock or nylon stocking

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Gather plastic bottles, such as large 1-liter soda or water bottles.
    • Make sure to rinse and clean them thoroughly to remove any old liquid or debris.
  2. Use a soldering iron or small drill bit to create drainage holes in the bottle cap.
  3. Wrap the bottle in a piece of fabric, like a sock or nylon stocking.
    • Before placing the plastic bottle in your potted plant, wrap it in a piece of fabric, such as an old sock or a piece of nylon stocking. This step is crucial to preventing soil from entering the bottle and clogging the holes. Also, water will be distributed better and more efficiently with the sock or nylon covering.
  4. Invert the bottle and bury the top few inches in the soil next to your plant.
    • Once the bottle is wrapped, invert it so the cap is facing down, and bury the top few inches of the bottle into the soil next to your plant. Make sure that soil is all around the cap, but don’t completely cover the bottle. The exposed part of the bottle will serve as a water reservoir that you can fill as needed.
  5. Fill the bottle with water to create a self-watering system.
    • Now that your DIY automatic plant watering system is in place, fill the plastic bottle with water. As the soil dries, the water will slowly drip through the holes in the cap, keeping your plants hydrated and nourishing their roots.

DIY Drip Watering System with Soaker Hose

A drip irrigation system delivers a slow flow of water to the root system under the soil at a rate that makes it easily absorbable by the plant.

There are loads of DIY kits for making this type of watering system, but if you want to test it out in your succulent garden outside, you can do it with a few pieces of equipment first.

Another cheap method of dripping water is using ice cubes. This alternative method of drip irrigation is usually used with plants like orchids or fiddle-leaf fig trees when they are planted outdoors.


  • Soaker hose
  • Wire garden pins
  • Mulch

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Dig a few inches into the soil underneath where your plants are going to find the best spot for your soaker hose. You want it to run parallel to the roots of the plants without interfering with any of them.
  2. Lay the soaker hose in the position you want and connect the other end to the garden faucet.
  3. With the hose in position, fasten it into place with the wire garden pins.
  4. Cover the newly installed hose with the garden mulch, but do not put any soil on top of it.
  5. Turn on the faucet of the garden to allow it to water your plants slowly.

Non-DIY Automatic Watering Systems

Self-watering pots

These pots provide a constant source of moisture to your plants via a wick system. They are particularly helpful when you are on vacation or have no time to water your plants. They are simple to use, just add water into the reservoir underneath the plant and the wick carries up the moisture into the soil.

We like these types so much that we use them for all of our indoor plants. We particularly like this self-watering pot as they are easy to use, come in many sizes, and are pretty pots that go with any home decor.
UOUZ 10/9/8 inch Self Watering Pots, Set of 3 Plastic Planters with Mesh Drainage Holes…
  • Self Watering Pots: Set of 3 plastic planters with mesh drainage holes and…
  • Removable Watering Feeder: The planters have a removable watering feeder…
  • Excellent Drainage: Mesh drainage holes on the bottom of the pots keep soil…

Smart-home automatic systems

mobile phone controlled automatic watering systemPin

Smart home irrigation systems can be as basic or advanced as you need.

These complete setups allow you to schedule watering or set timers and can be used in conjunction with other parts of a smart home.

The system can be controlled through your smart home hub or mobile device, and you can turn it on and off even when you’re not around.

Soaker hose

soaker hose method of automatic watering systemPin

A soaker hose irrigation system works similarly to drip watering, as it features a hose with small holes through it that release water slowly to feed your plants.

These hoses can be manipulated to be put anywhere, whether you want them directly on fruits and vegetables, (like spinach or carrots) or pointed at the soil to give water to the roots.

They can be set on a timer or turned on manually, depending on how much automatic you want your irrigation system to have.

Capillary mats

A capillary mat is made specifically for potted seedlings and might be used by someone wishing to grow new plants from scratch.

The seedlings are in pots, and they sit on a felt mat that is absorbing water from a separate reservoir.

The plants are housed in plastic trays where irrigation can be delivered, so there’s nothing for the gardener to do during seed germination.

The pots absorb the right amount of water from the felt and do so as needed, making for a hands-free growing experience for the gardener.

Mini greenhouses

A mini greenhouse is set up to be a smaller version of a standard-sized greenhouse, designed to have everything a plant needs to thrive.

Mini greenhouses by themselves are not a watering system, but you can buy a greenhouse that comes with a complete greenhouse system that includes watering.

These complete mini-systems do everything, including maintaining the right temperatures and giving the right amount of light.


Installing an irrigation system to keep your succulents hydrated and happy is just one of the ways you can care for them with minimal fuss.

If you have questions about watering your plants or other aspects of plant parenting, we’ve answered some common FAQs to help you out.

Can You Use an Old Bottle to Make a Homemade self-watering Planter?

Yes, you can construct a self-watering planter out of an old plastic bottle. To construct a self-watering planter out of an old bottle, cut it in half, drill a hole in the cap, and insert a cotton or other absorbent material wick. The wick will suck water from the planter’s bottom reservoir and distribute it to the soil as needed, keeping your plants hydrated without overwatering them.

How can I water my plants while on vacation for a month?

When on vacation, water your plant using a DIY wick watering system. Use a couple of gallon jugs of water (the size will depend on how long you expect to be on vacation) next to your plant. Use a piece of twine or yarn in the water, with the other end wrapped around the plant’s soil. The water will wick from the jug of water into the plant’s soil.

How can I water my plants while on vacation for a month?

Yes, you can water your plants for a month while on vacation. There are numerous automated watering systems and do-it-yourself options for keeping your plants hydrated for an extended period of time. Some of the choices for providing a consistent source of water include creating your own DIY watering system out of recyclable materials like milk jugs or plastic bottles.

What are the benefits of using a DIY watering system for indoor plants?

Indoor plants benefit from DIY watering systems. First, it ensures your plants get enough water. Second, it eliminates daily plant watering. Thirdly, it is cheaper than commercial watering systems and reduces waste by using recycled materials. Also, it reduces over- and under-watering related plant diseases. Finally, it lets you leave your plants unattended or go on vacation without worrying about them drying out. DIY watering systems save time, money, and effort while promoting healthier and more vibrant indoor plants.


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