Self-waterers for plants are perfect for beginning home gardeners who forget to water occasionally, or for any home gardener that cannot tend to her plants for an extended period of time. Skip expensive commercial watering systems and forget about trying to find someone to care for your plants when you are on vacation. Instead, make your own plant self-waterer.
You will need one empty plastic water bottle or wine bottle (the longer the neck, the better) per plant, a mild liquid soap and warm water. Wash the bottles thoroughly in warm, soapy water and remove any paper labels, especially if you are going to water outdoor plants with the system. If you are using a plastic bottle, use a box cutter or sharp scissors to cut off the bottom of the bottle. This will make it easier to fill again with water, and outdoor systems will automatically fill with water when it rains.
Remove and discard the lid and then fill the bottle with water. Quickly turn it upside-down and insert the neck of the bottle into the soil near the root zone of the plant. The water will not spill out in a rush, although some may leak when you flip the bottle. Instead, the soil will draw out the water as it dries.
Monitor the water level in the bottle. On hot days, the plant may empty the water out of the bottle more quickly than you would expect. Refill the bottle as needed. Glass bottles with intact bottoms will need to be completely removed from the soil in order to refill them. If you find that your plant is draining the bottle too quickly, try using a larger bottle. The larger the bottle, the longer the plant will be able to "water" itself. After all, the self-watering system is supposed to save you time and effort.
Some home gardeners may not like the look of bottles sticking up from container plants or from the ground. Try using coloured glass bottles for a more whimsical look, such as those found in antique or thrift stores. Or, string colourful beads on floral wire and then wrap that around the bottle for a charming and accent.