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Succulents have always been a popular choice for plant lovers and home gardeners due to their low-maintenance nature and unique, visually appealing shapes. One of the most convenient factors contributing to their thriving growth is an ideal watering regimen, which usually involves minimal watering as these plants have adapted to survive in arid environments. Consequently, plant enthusiasts face a common dilemma: are self-watering pots suitable for succulents?

Self-watering pots are designed to regulate the moisture provided to a plant’s roots by utilizing a water reservoir beneath the potting medium which the plant draws from when needed. Such a system may initially appear contradictory to the limited watering requirements of succulents. However, these self-watering pots can be advantageous for succulents when implemented correctly. By ensuring the pot has a drainage hole and a secure lid to prevent spillage, succulents can benefit from this automatic watering method without the risk of overwatering, which could lead to root rot – a common issue faced by succulent owners.

Understanding the proper use of self-watering pots for succulents, along with the ideal pot size and correct positioning of the plant’s roots, is essential for maximizing their benefits. 

The goal is to strike a balance between providing enough water to keep the plant healthy and avoiding any adverse effects due to overwatering.

are self watering pots good for succulents a guide to self watering pots for succulents

Are Self Watering Pots Good for Succulents?

Succulents are popular plants that require specific care conditions to thrive. One common question that arises when trying to maintain these plants is if self-watering pots are a good choice for succulents. 

We’ve already talked about using self watering plants for indoor plants in general like snake plants, but now specifically,  we’ll explore the pros and cons of using self-watering pots for succulents so you can decide if this is a good option for your plant.


  • Consistency in watering: Self-watering pots have a built-in reservoir of water that helps manage water levels, ensuring that your succulents are getting the appropriate amount of moisture consistently. This can be especially helpful for busy plant owners who might not have time for daily watering.
  • Reduced risk of overwatering: Since self-watering pots release water gradually into the plant’s root ball, there is a lower likelihood of overwatering. Overwatering can lead to root rot, a common problem with succulents, so having a mechanism to prevent this is beneficial.


  • Limited drainage and air circulation: Succulents require good drainage and air circulation around their roots for optimal health. Self-watering pots, while providing consistent moisture, may not always offer the best drainage and air circulation, which could lead to root rot or other issues.
  • Not suitable for all succulents: Some types of succulents, like cacti, orchids, bromeliads, and air plants, may not thrive in self-watering pots due to their specific needs. When choosing a self-watering pot for your succulents, it’s essential to research if the particular type of succulent would benefit from this type of pot.

How Self Watering Pots Work

Wicking Action

Self-watering pots utilize a process called wicking, which is based on the principle of capillary action. Capillary action allows water to be absorbed by the soil and drawn upwards against the force of gravity. 

In self-watering pots, a wicking material is typically placed in contact with both the soil mix and the water reservoir at the bottom of the pot. The wicking material can be made from various materials, such as cotton, polyester, or even a porous ceramic. 

Water Reservoir

A key component of self-watering pots is the water reservoir, which is usually a separate chamber located at the bottom of the pot. This reservoir holds an adequate amount of water that the plant can draw from as needed. 

It ensures that the plant has a constant supply of water without the risk of overwatering, as excess water remains in the reservoir instead of saturating the soil. Most self-watering containers can hold water for several days or more.

Water Level Indicator

To help maintain optimal moisture levels for the plant, self-watering pots often come equipped with a water level indicator. This feature allows users to easily monitor the amount of water remaining in the reservoir, ensuring that the plant is not under-watered or over-watered. The indicators can be as simple as a colored marker or more advanced like a float that rises and falls with the water level. Some self-watering pots even feature a clear window to visually see the water level.

Choosing the Right Self Watering Pots for Succulents


When selecting a self-watering pot for succulents, the material plays a crucial role. Common materials used for these pots include plastic, ceramic, and terracotta. Each material has its pros and cons, with plastic often being preferred due to its lightweight and affordable nature. 

Ceramic pots and terracotta pots can offer better insulation and breathability, but they may be heavier and more expensive.


An essential feature in self-watering pots for succulents is the presence of drainage holes. These holes are crucial for proper water management, ensuring that excess water is drained out and helps prevent root rot. 

The right containers will have a design that should also include a bottom reservoir to hold extra water while the plant can access it through wicking action. It is necessary to make sure that the soil in the pot is wet before placing the succulent in it, as dry soil may lead to the plant drying out.


Being sure of the right size is another critical consideration when choosing self-watering pots for succulents. Succulents require enough room for their roots to grow, so selecting an appropriately sized pot is essential for their health. 

Most pots with a self watering system have a water capacity of about one quart, which can provide an adequate water supply for several days. However, it is essential to monitor and adjust the water levels to cater to the specific needs of the type of plant or succulent being grown.

Proper Planting and Maintenance of Succulents in Self Watering Pots

Potting Soil Mix

When planting succulents in self-watering pots, it is essential to use a well-draining potting soil mix. The soil should allow water to pass through quickly while retaining sufficient moisture for the plant’s roots. 

Good soil mixes for succulents typically contain ingredients such as perlite, pumice, and sand, which help improve drainage and aeration. An optimal potting mix should contain one part organic matter like peat moss or well-aged compost and two parts mineral matter like perlite, pumice, or coarse sand.

Water Capacity and Frequency

Self-watering pots are designed with a reservoir at the bottom that holds water, allowing the plant to draw moisture as needed. This system can be beneficial for succulents as it helps prevent overwatering and root rot while maintaining consistent soil moisture levels. 

However, it is crucial to monitor the water capacity of your self-watering pot, as succulents do not like to sit in constantly wet soil.

To have more control over how much water you are allowing in succulent pots, follow these guidelines:

  • Thoroughly water the potting soil mix until water runs out of the drainage holes when first planting your succulent. This will help establish the wicking action between the reservoir and the soil.
  • Keep the reservoir filled with water, but avoid overfilling it. Monitor the water level and adjust the amount of water in the reservoir as needed to maintain consistent soil moisture. You can opt for distilled water if you like
  • Check the soil moisture level periodically. If you find moist soil after a week, wait another week before refilling the reservoir.

Preventing Common Problems in Self Watering Pots

Overwatering and Rot

While self-watering pots can be beneficial for many plants, succulent growers may face the most common problems of overwatering and rot. Succulents require well-draining soil and infrequent watering, which can be hard to achieve in self-watering pots due to their inherent design.

The key to great success with these is honestly less water can be more when it comes to succulent plants.

To prevent overwatering, consider:

  • Using a proper soil mix specially designed for succulents, which allows for better drainage
  • Reducing the amount of water in the reservoir or even leaving it empty, as succulents don’t need constant access to water
  • Monitoring the moisture levels in the soil and only refilling the reservoir when the soil is completely dry

Root rot and stem rot are common problems resulting from overwatering. To avoid these issues:

  • Ensure proper drainage by adding perlite or coarse sand to the soil mix
  • Adjust the watering frequency based on the needs of the individual plant / specific succulent species
  • Remove any affected plant parts promptly and treat the plant with fungicides if necessary

Pests and Insects

Pests and insects can be a concern when using self-watering pots, particularly for succulents, which are prone to infestations like fungus gnats, mealybugs, aphids, and ants. When excess water collects, you are asking for trouble!

To prevent these issues:

  1. Monitor the plants closely for any signs of pest or insect activity
  2. Use organic pest control methods, such as introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs or lacewings, or applying insecticidal soap or neem oil
  3. Ensure proper ventilation and humidity levels around the plants, as pests and insects are less likely to thrive in well-ventilated areas
  4. Clean the pot and reservoir regularly to reduce the chances of an infestation

By following these tips, you can help protect your succulents from common problems associated with self-watering pots, such as overwatering, rot, and pests. Keeping a close eye on your plants and adjusting your care practices accordingly will contribute to their overall plant growth, health and longevity. Good luck!

FAQ about Self Watering Succulent

Q: Are there specific self-watering pots or containers recommended for succulents?

A: Yes, when choosing self-watering pots for succulents, opt for containers with drainage holes to ensure excess water can escape. Additionally, consider pots made from breathable materials like terracotta or porous ceramics to prevent moisture retention.

Q: How often should self-watering systems be refilled for succulents?

A: The frequency of refilling self-watering systems for succulents depends on various factors such as the plant’s size, environmental conditions, and the capacity of the reservoir. It’s best to monitor the moisture levels and refill as needed, typically every 1-2 weeks.

Q: Can self-watering systems be used when I go on vacation?

A: Yes, self-watering systems can be particularly useful during vacations, for frequent travelers, or even those with busy schedules who tend to be away a lot. Ensure the reservoir is filled before you leave to provide water to the succulents while you’re away. However, it’s always a good idea to test and adjust the system before extended absences.

Q: Do succulents need any special care in self-watering pots?

A: Succulents still require appropriate care even in self-watering pots. It’s important to monitor the moisture levels, avoid overfilling the reservoir, and adjust watering based on the plant’s needs. Regularly check for signs of overwatering or underwatering, such as wilting or yellowing leaves.

Q: Can all succulent varieties thrive in self-watering pots?

A: While most succulent varieties can adapt to self-watering pots, it’s essential to consider their specific moisture requirements. Succulents that prefer drier conditions and have low water needs are generally better suited for self-watering systems.

Q: Are self-watering pots the only option for watering succulents?

A: No, self-watering pots are not the only option for watering succulents. Traditional watering methods like manual watering or using well-draining pots with good drainage can also be effective. Choose a watering method that suits your preferences and the specific needs of your succulents.

Q: What are the advantages of using self-watering systems for succulents?

A: Some advantages of using self-watering systems for succulents include better moisture control, reduced risk of overwatering, convenience in watering, and the ability to maintain consistent moisture levels even during extended absences.

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