SuccessfulSelfWateringContainers’s Blog

Hello, Gardeners!
April 2, 2009, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


This is where you’ll be able to get a better idea of what converting any round container you have into a self-waterer can do for you.

Why would I want to do that, you may ask.  The answer is simple: growing something in properly constructed self-watering containers is without a doubt the best environment for plants.  You watch them thrive versus just grow. 

What that means is healthier plants, better vegetables and herbs, and a lot less work for YOU, the gardener.

Once you accept that, then the thing to do is go over to  From there, you can order my bookwhich explains in simple and easy to understand steps HOW TO CONVERT ANY ROUND CONTAINER YOU HAVE to a SELF WATERER.front_cover17

Of course, you can continue with daily rituals of frequent watering and regular fertilizing that containers demand. 

You can struggle to find someone to water for you when you go on vacation.

You can learn techniques to provide slow and steady water, sometimes using drip irrigation systems designed for containers (not cheap).

You can plan to place plants in water filled tubs, all the while amusing your neighbors. 

And you can always continue to lust after that elusive weather system with moderate rainfall, as it seems to miss your house and garden just when you need it most.  

How did all this come about, you might ask?  It was borne out of necessity and frustration.  Let me explain…

First I had to be convinced that self-waterers were a viable alternative.  I used the 2007 growing season to try several market-available self watering containers for vegetables, herbs, and other plants (not inexpensive).

What ensued was nothing less than remarkable.  Everything grew quickly, with more health and vigor than I had ever experienced.  As an example, in four weeks time, basil grew to more than thirty inches tall and wide with strong, woody trunks.  The tomatoes were also wildly successful—much better than what I had grown for the past fifteen years. Plants remained healthy and disease free; fruits were larger, tastier, and more plentiful right through October (I garden in Zone 5!).

And of course, my watering chores were greatly reduced.  With the exception of some ninety degree days, I was able to space my watering to three-day intervals as the plant roots reached into the reservoir for their needed water. What could be easier? 

Take a look at this Angel’s Trumpet, specifically the disproportionately small container relative to the size of the plant.  If you grow this plant, you know what a water hog it is. And getting it to bloom on a regular basis takes so much fertilizer that you want to invest in the fertilizer company. The container is one that was converted into a self-waterer and Voila! The plant took off.  But the watering chore was reduced to twice a week instead of twice a day.  

Angel's Trumpet in Converted Self Watering Container
Angel’s Trumpet in Converted Self Watering Container     Photo: L. Ballato

I knew right then and there that I needed to use self-waterers for all my seasonal containers.  I even began thinking about my houseplants and how wonderful they would be in self-waterers.  But the cost to convert my collection of containers into self-waterers would figure to be very costly if I purchased what was available in the retail market. 

What I came up with is a relatively inexpensive technique to convert any round container into a self-waterer.  It’s easy and doesn’t cost a lot.  In fact, most of the materials are things that are usually found around the house.  And an average do-it-yourselfer can do this without power tools, or lots of experience. 

My book takes you step by step through all of the “how-to” of this conversion with over 30 photos, Q&As, and easy to understand explanations.  Plus when you order your book, you will get the latest updated information about how to work around getting an insert with a smaller hole than originally specified.

You’ll get so much more than time out of growing things in self-waterers, you’ll wonder why it’s been such a big sleeper thus far.

Remember, it’s not about the time it saves you from the drudgery of watering. It’s about outsmarting the elements and having the absolute best plants you can have, regardless of your growing season.  For a gardener, the idea of transforming an average plant into stunning, lush vitality is heady stuff, indeed.



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19 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to see if I can convert my pots to self watering ones.

Comment by lisa natale

Excellent work on this article. It makes for an interesting and Thoughtful read.

Comment by Gardener

Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve done some updating today so maybe there’s more for you to chew on. Lots of upcoming public speaking gigs as well so if you’re in the area, please stop by one of them. LB

Comment by successfulselfwateringcontainers

purchased book and was questioning need for 1 1/4″ hole in airbase and #18 o-ring seems a bit large for 3/4″ conduit? Also why 1 1/8″ hole in Ups-a-daisy?

Comment by kevin

Hello, Kevin!
Thanks for buying my book. As you read through it, you’ll see air base hole needs to accomodate the diameter of fill tube to get water into the reservoir, ergo the need for 1 1/4″ hole. #18 o-ring is right size to encircle the fill tube to prevent it from dropping too low into the reservoir. Other sizes just don’t work out. You want to keep the fill tube off the bottom so it doesn’t scratch the liner. I can’t comment on the hole sizes of the daisys. They come that way already made; I just decided to use them since they easily fit my needs for a hard plastic insert with pre-drilled holes.
Enjoy your converted self waterers. It’s the best growing condition you can provide for your plants!

Comment by successfulselfwateringcontainers

I can’t find your book at 2 bookstores one was barnes and Noble in San Jose. She could not find it on her search.

Pat Sheehan

Comment by Patrick Sheehan

Hello, Patrick!
Thanks for your interest in my book. Glad you want to buy it, but the only way to do that from your part of the country is on-line via Amazon. Book stores don’t want to carry my book because it is soft-cover and spiral bound: it doesn’t stand up on a shelf. I purposely designed it that way so that when you do your conversion, the book doesn’t close up on you. Alas, not the best design for book store sales! Hope you decide to order from my website which will link you to Amazon. The book ships first class mail (not media rate) so you should get it in a matter of a few days once you get the order approved through Amazon.

Comment by successfulselfwateringcontainers

The Ups-a-daisy insert has only 9 quarter inch holes is that enough for the plant to send roots to the water source? Should I drill more?


Comment by John Johnson

Hello, John!

Thanks for buying my book.

Regarding your Ups-A-Daisy, the holes which are already drilled are sufficient for your plant’s oxygen needs. You don’t have to drill any additional holes. That’s the beauty of the device — it comes ready made for the conversion.


Comment by successfulselfwateringcontainers

I just purchased your book from Amazon. I do not understand why the plastic sheet is needed. If there is no hole in the bottom of the pot do you need the plastic sheet?

Comment by Ruth Lee

Hi, Ruth!
Thanks for buying my book. I sent you a somewhat lengthy email in reply to your question. The answer(s) can possibly “spill the goods” for blog readers who haven’t bought my book, ergo the need to use private email versus the blog. Hope you don’t mind.

Comment by successfulselfwateringcontainers

I read your book from front to back. You said not to use Crazy Glue….what kind of glue do you use?

Comment by Retta

Hi, Retta!
Glad you read through the book. Don’t know the products where you live, however, the best glue you can use is a waterproof product that can be used in your bath tub or shower – something like a waterproof caulk or sealer. You just need a little dab so a small tube of the stuff is more than enough. A plumbing supply place or a hardware store are likely places to buy this. Home Depot, Lowe’s and stores like that also carry these products. These products are also used to seal outdoor items like leaky birdbaths. I have found that I only needed the glue when I used styrofoam for the bobber. Using corks which are very dense worked better for me — they held the skewers very tightly and negated the need for the glue.


Comment by lorraineballato

I have a whiskey barrell that I would love to make self watering. The Ups A Daisy shelves are not large enough. I need something about 22-24″. Any ideas what I might use?

Comment by Retta

Hi, Retta! You might have to make your own platform or hunt for a substitute in junk yards, plumbing supply, home warehouse stores, etc. Remember to get someting that will hold the weight of the soil and that you can drill air holes, etc. into. If you pattern the platform on the Ups-A-Daisy you should be OK. The photo toward the back of my book where I talk about hiding the well head for our water pump is of a converted whisky barrel. However, mine wasn’t as large as yours. I was able to use the largest “Daisy” to make this conversion which is still functioning today, 4 years later.

Comment by lorraineballato

Where do you buy the ups-a-daisy platforms?

Comment by Anonymous

Thanks for reading my blog. Hopefully, you’ll decide to buy my book and learn how to convert your tapered container into a self waterer. In any case, using an Ups-a-Daisy is a fabulous way to improve any container planting. Use the link listed on the left under “Blogroll” to learn more about this product.

Comment by lorraineballato

I bought the book and wondered if you could use a water reservoir without the plastic. Does it affect the growth of the
roots? Would a soil wick produce different results?
Thanks for a great book.

Comment by Stase

I emailed you privately in May ’cause I wasn’t sure I understood your question. If you still have questions, please get back to me via that email route. I’d prefer we keep this conversation private so others who haven’t bought my book don’t “break the code.” Thanks! Lorraine

Comment by lorraineballato

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