Self-Watering Pot Stopped Working

Question:  I purchased some self-watering pots (elsewhere) and have found that with a couple of these, the water never would weep into the pot with the soil and the plant.  I’ve lost two violets due to the lack of water not seeping through the inside liner pot.  Any suggestions?

Answer:  If working properly, a self-watering ‘violet pot’ keeps the soil constantly moist by allowing the water in the outer glazed pot (reservoir) to keep the unglazed inner pot wet and, by osmosis, the soil inside.  If the inner pot is clean and unglazed, sometimes you just need to get the process started.  Try soaking the inner pot in (hot) water before using  (potting in) it.  This will get it clean (unclog the pores, so to speak) and give capillary action a head star.  Water the plant from the surface of the soil in the beginning, so that both the soil and the inner pot are damp.  The self-watering process should begin once the damp inner pot is submersed in the reservoir water.


  • What would you recommend as a good fertilizer. In speaking with my
    Local nursery they asked which variety. I didn’t realize different violets required different fertilizers.

    • Any water-soluble, balanced (the NPK formula numbers on the container aren’t extreme) ferilizer will be fine. Most ordinary “houseplant” foods are perfectly fine–you don’t need any special “african violet” food.

  • My self watering violet pots have stopped allowing water to seep to plants…I recently scrubbed unglazed outer part of pot and cleaned inside of glazed pot…overnight watering and soil still dry all the way to bottom of plant pot…what should I try next?

    • If the inner pot is clean, you may need to “restart” the seeping of the water through the pot. Water the soil so that moist soil contacts the inside of the pot, the inner pot should also be moist. Think of a sponge–a slightly moist one will actually absorb water better than one that’s totally dry.

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