self draining pots

The 7 Best Self-Watering Planters of 2020

Don’t have a green thumb? No worries—these planters do the watering for you

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Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Best Overall: Lechuza Cubico Cottage Self-Watering Garden Planter

Since it’s created with frost- and UV-resistant plastic, this rectangularly shaped planter works just as well in an outdoor area like your porch or backyard as it does in your living room. There’s even a drainage plug if you choose to use it for outdoor use. This indoor-outdoor quality is particularly helpful if you have plants that you need to bring inside when the temperatures dip during winter. The planter is available in two heights: 22 inches and 30 inches.

This planter features a box-shaped liner for your plant to live in, a water reservoir below, and an opening at the top with a water-level indicator that makes it easy to fill the reservoir when needed. It separates the soil in the liner from the water reservoir below with specially-formulated filler to better aerate your plant’s roots and introduce just the right amount of moisture to the soil and roots.

Best for Herbs: Cole & Mason Indoor Self-Watering Herb Garden Planter

Clever hydro felt pads fit inside this Cole and Mason planter, allowing water to travel from the reservoir up to the plant’s roots. The planter sits on top of a water tray with a handy pour spout; the reservoir can hold up to 10 ounces of water. This is ideal for herbs, which require water but don’t do well if they sit in it.

The planter comes with four felt pads, which the manufacturer says is sufficient for a year’s worth of watering. The pots are petite, but reviewers note they’re an ideal size for herbs that you store in your kitchen, like basil or cilantro. Note that you don’t need to repot your herbs into this planter—you can place the plastic pot directly onto the felt pad, as long as there are drainage holes at the bottom that can come into contact with felt.

Best Budget: Mkono Self Watering Planter, 3-Pack

Try this Mkono set if you’re looking for a modern look on a budget. The planters are made from a plastic that’s durable enough to make these planters suitable for outdoor as well as indoor usage.

These pots are easy to set up: Place the cotton rope, included with the pots, through the holes in the interior pot. Next, pot your plant in that same interior pot. Add water to the exterior pot, being careful not to overfill. You want the water to rest below the interior pot (the cotton rope will draw water into the pot, providing the plant with hydration). Some reviewers note they marked the fill line with tape or a marker, since there’s no indicator line on the pot itself.

Per the manufacturer, the planter can hold up to 10 days of water each time it’s filled—and possibly even more, depending on how much moisture your plant craves. Reviewers are particularly fond of these pots for African violets, but note that the soil in self-watering planters stays a bit too moist for succulents, cacti, or any plants that require a very dry environment.

Best for Beginners: Window Garden Aquaphoric Self Watering Planter

A self-watering planter makes keeping plants healthy and flourishing easy, even for people who have trouble keeping plants alive. If you’re a total beginner, the Aquaphoric Self Watering Planter is a great starting place—it’s available in a rainbow of colors and includes oxygen-rich fiber soil. That means all you’ll need to provide is the plant itself!

A visible, easy to read water level indicator lets you know when you need to add water. This makes it hard to overwater plants—the kind of over-love that too often results in yellow leaves and unhappy plants. This very giftable planter comes in a box with the soil and illustrated instructions, so plant newbies can walk through the steps required to care for their plant. Reviewers praise the ease with which they can set up the planter, the look of the pot, and the results: vibrant, happy plants.

Best Window Box: GardenBasix Elongated Self-Watering Planter Pots Window Box

A window box festooned with blossoming plants—or a handy herb garden—is a source of delight to people both inside and outside of a home. But window boxes aren’t always easy to water. Enter this handy rectangular window box, which holds enough water to make watering plants an occasional task, rather than a daily or weekly one. The planter has a sleek, modern look and reviewers note that it’s sturdy and well designed for its task.

A handy water level indicator lets you know at a glance when plants need water, which can then be added through the planter’s water injection port. This planter also comes with coconut coir disks—after adding water, these disks transform into a quart of plant fiber each.

Best for Vegetables: Hydrofarm GCTR Tomato Trellis Garden on Wheels Tree Tower

Reviewers praise this tomato trellis for its ease of assembly as well as the tremendous output of tomatoes (or cucumbers or other veggies) that helped the plants thrive.

A watering port makes it easy to refill the reservoir. The trellis expands to several feet tall, so it can support your plants as they grow. Handy wheels mean you can relocate the planter if the forecast calls for hail, extreme heat, or other unpleasant weather without picking it up and disturbing the plants.

This planter is particularly ideal for people with a limited amount of outdoor space who dream of lush and large vegetable gardens—it’s small enough for a porch, balcony, or deck.

Best Outdoor: Tierra Verde Slate Rubber Self-Watering Planter

This Tierra Verde planter is made from rubber recycled from tires. As well as being an eco-friendly choice, rubber is also durable—making these planters a great pick for outdoor plants. Unlike some plastic planters, rubber can stand up to cold temperatures without cracking or breaking. The planter’s exterior is also stain- and UV-resistant, so it won’t discolor over time, even if it’s left in the sun.

The planters are available in a variety of heights, and have a sleek, modern appearance. Unlike some self-watering planters, you don’t fill the water reservoir separately from the soil. Instead, as you water the soil, excess water collects in the reservoir and is stored for later, when the soil needs additional moisture. If the reservoir is overfilled, there is an overflow hole that will release the extra water.

The best self-watering planters take away the task of monitoring your plant's moisture levels. We rounded up our top picks to help you find the right one.