I love African violets and have amassed quite the collection on the glass shelves of my bay window. African violets should always be watered from the bottom, so today I’m sharing how I make my own self-watering planters.
While self-watering planters are absolutely necessary for beautiful African violets, I have not found a size or style that suits. I have seen great pottery options like this one, but the style doesn’t really go with my kitchen and it is quite bulky. I use the method I’m sharing today because it works so well with vintage milk glass and has the added benefit of being very inexpensive. With this method, I can make a complete planter for about $2.
I use 4-6″ terra cotta pots, depending on the size of the violet to transfer and size of the vintage vase. This could be done with pots of a different material, but I like the porous nature of these containers. Whatever you use needs a hole in the bottom. These are easy to find at thrift shops for less than a dollar but are inexpensive to purchase new.
For the wick, I use two lengths of polyester macrame cord cut to about 24″ each. I’ve tried different wicking materials like an old t-shirt cut up, but it eventually disintegrated. This stuff holds up very well and does an excellent job. It has to be a synthetic material. I have always been able to find polyester macrame rope for less than a dollar at thrift stores, but this 100-yard roll for $10 would get you a long way.
Fold the two lengths of rope in half and tie an overhand knot in the center. Try to make the loops the length of the height of the jar.
Thread the “tails” through the hole(s) in the bottom of the pot.
Push the loops around the edge of the pot and plant as normal. Add enough water to the outside container so that when the inner pot is added water reaches halfway up the inner pot. I water whenever the pot is empty but I check about once a week and try to never let the cords go dry.
I know my nails are pretty raggedy in these pictures, so I took a snap to show that I actually do own a nail file.
It lives with my seeds so I can scratch the surface of tough seeds like these nasturtiums that I’m planting in newspaper pots. Suffice it to say my hands will always raggedy for all tutorials, gardening or otherwise. 🙂 (Also, check out my chicken boots. Love.)
I’ve had good luck finding violets at thrift shops and clearance racks, but my fanciest ones come from Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses. Mom has some great ones from eBay. Some people are intimidated by African violets but they are really simple. Just start with a self-watering planter like this one.