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Lechuza is the creme de la creme of self-watering plant pots, and for good reason.
I have a full Lechuza review here, but tl;dr is that I like them but they’re not necessarily right for everyone and if you’re into leca, you may have a hard time flushing Lechuza pots because there isn’t an inner pot.
I’m a fairly frugal person, and I’m not in position to switch all my plants to Lechuza pots. Most of them are in plastic nursey pots that I’ve reused, and a fair few are in terracotta. Outer pots are mainly either from Ikea, or supermarkets (I got a variegated Alocasia amazonica AND a gorgeous pot for £12 from M&S.
I have a whole article on budget house plant care here.
For the sake of research (insert sneaky emoji here), I went on an Aliexpress/Amazon spree and picked up a few of the cheaper self-watering pots, including some pretty obvious Lechuza knockoffs.
I found a firm favourite, which unfortunately you can now only buy on Alibaba in quantities of 50 or above.
Yes, I am considering it.
I have a video over on YouTube that shows my whole collection of self-watering pots, if you’d rather listen to me ramble on rather than read it.
Different types of self-watering pots
First up we have the fairly obvious Lechuza knockoffs from Amazon that look like this:
They look fine, and are a decent price, but are basically unusable (to me). The many, many 4+starred reviews suggest that other people think differently to me, but I won’t repurchase.
I’ll explain why a bit later.
Next up we have these string-wicking self-watering pots from Amazon:
I really like these.
They’re simple to use – you fill-up the reservoir and a cord wicks the water up into the soil or leca.
One of the issues I have with lechuza is that there’s no inner pot, making it difficult to flush without getting leca everywhere.
It would be nice to have larger pots BUT you’d also need to also have a longer cord so you could move it higher into the substrate. Otherwise I don’t think the water would reach the roots easily.
These are perfect for small-medium sized plants – I’m pretty sure I have the largest size and it’s only 15cm in diameter.
I really like these – they’re cheap and look…fine. I believe there are actually a few different designs, so you can hunt for one you like.
Next up we have this Aliexpress pot
(The link goes to Amazon, because things on AliExpress just…disappear, but I’m pretty sure it’s exactly the same pot).
I really like this pot. It was pretty cheap and works well. It has an inner pot, making it a great chico for leca.
I bought a single one for about £5, on Amazon they’re about the same, but you have to buy them in packs of three. Not an issue for me, but I suppose it’s a pain if you only have one plant.
The only downside is that there isn’t a water gauge, but that doesn’t really bother me. If you’re getting a self-watering plant pot because you want to be told when to water, I wouldn’t recommend this one.
Aaaaand my favourite, which you can’t buy anywhere unless you get fifty.
These look similar from Amazon, but if you want to find the actual ones, they’re the brand Leizisure, clearly a spin on Lechuza.
Why do I love this one so much?
- It has an inner pot so I can flush
- There isn’t a cord wick – the inner pot stands on little hollow legs that your substrate can fit into, which I think works better as a wicking system
- There’s a little chute for pouring water into the base of the pot
- There’s a water gauge
- It looks nice and is easier to clean than the Lechuza ones.
- Works equally well for leca or soil
Honestly, I wish I’d just bought a tonne of these.
These ones look similar though.
Ok, I also found some flat, wide Leizisure pots. Check VAT and shipping though – that’s how AliExpress gets you! For some reason searching the brand doesn’t work – they just popped up in the ‘people also buy’ sidebar.
I checked back through my orders, and the original pot is not found. Cry, cry, cry.
Are the lechuza dupes any good?
So I’m specifically talking about these ones:
They look fine but I have issues.
So, what’s wrong with these pots
1. Mine has a hole in the bottom:
It’s not even flush to the bottom (I imagine so you can keep a reservoir in there).
This would be fine IF there was an inner pot (which admittedly would render the hole useless) but there isn’t. How the heck are you meant to get the water out without removing all the substrate?
I think the company have removed this hole now (but don’t quote me on that – I’m just judging by the diagrams Amazon provide), but it’s annoying that there was no mention of it when I bought them.
2. There’s no water to get water in the reservoir without going via the substrate
I’d show you what I mean, but I don’t actually USE any of these pots properly – I use them as cachepots, which they’re not that great at because THERE’S A HOLE IN THE BOTTOM.
I think what irks me is that whoever designed these clearly hasn’t kept plants OR (and this is a real possibility) I’m missing something.
Anyway, if your plants are in leca it would be fine EXCEPT they’re crap for leca due to the whole and another reason I’ll get into later.
You have to top water the plant (like you would a regular pot) in order to fill up the reservoir. There’s no little side tube that you can fill up.
Fine for leca, but if you’re using soil there’s a very real chance that you’ll end up overwatering your plant.
IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.
3. There’s no inner pot
Which makes it…not great for leca.
They just have a base plate thing.
If the hole was in the side of the pot, you could theoretically tip the water out. But it’s in the bottom, built up on a little pedestal. So all the crap you flush out would stay at the bottom. Like…what’s the plan there???
I feel like this could have been an article on its own.
Alone, each of the three issues are a pain point.
Together, they’re batshit crazy.
Is this pot designed for soil? No, because you can’t get water into the reservoir without overwatering.
Is it designed for leca?
No, because there’s no inner pot AND there’s a hole in the bottom, but raised up, so you can’t ever get all the water out.
I HATE IT
AND THEY COME IN A PACK OF FOUR.
I think to make theme workable, I can seal up the hole with some aquarium sealant, but I shouldn’t have to.
If you’ve got these pots, and my suspicions about them removing the hole are correct, please let me know in the comments. I know I could buy more, but I already have four useless pots, I don’t need more.
Are the cheaper self-watering pots worth the money?
Yeah, definitely – especially those little ones with the cords that come in packs of 6 for like £25.
I love T4U, but those Lechuza knock offs were a big ol’ fail for me anyway, if I’ve missed something obvious please leave me a kindly-worded comment about how oblivious I am to basic self-watering plant pot assembly.
If you’re using soil, then Lechuza pots are the bee’s knees, and they have a great range of shapes and sizes.
They’re expensive and harder to clean (don’t leave them to get grubby outside as I did) but they work really well. The layer of pon they provide means that you’re less likely to overwater.
But when it comes to using leca, I’d experiment with some of the cheaper ones.
As I buy more, I’ll update this article. I’m gonna stick to Amazon because AliExpress is a bugger for selling a great product and then removing it from the face of the earth.
Where to get cheap self-watering plant pots
Use AliExpress at your own risk (both because sometimes stuff simply doesn’t turn up, and because you’ll find the love of your life in plant pot form and not be able to get any more without RINGING SOMEONE THE TELEPHONE (the horror) over at Alibabas and having to order a minimum of fifty.
(I would buy 50 pots, but I’m not calling someone on the phone. Fuck that.)
How to use the cheaper self-watering plant pots
I like using the T4U string-wick ones with leca. They’re fine with soil but there’s nowhere to pour in water without removing the inner pot.
I mean, that’s fine, but I’m lazy, and don’t like to take out the inner pot.
The thin plastic may seem flimsy (it might be, but I haven’t broken any yet) but if you hold it up to the light you can see the water level, which is super helpful.
The Lechuza pots come with pon (which is like their own version of leca) which acts as a barrier between the reservoir and the soil.
It’s this layer that stops overwatering because it can absorb water and slowly release it into the soil. It’s not 100% going to prevent overwatering, but it’s a good way to slow the soil’s uptake of water.
If you’re using a cheap self-watering pot that has a shaped inner pot rather than a string wick, you can add a layer of leca (or you can buy pon separately) to act as a barrier.
Advantages of cheap self-watering plant pots
- They’re cheap!
- Because they’re cheap, you can buy more, and very aesthetically plasing plant shelves.
- A few of the companies have the design spot on. Whilst they’re not as good a quality as Lechuza, they’re perfectly functional. For people with a lot of plants, they work fine.
- You don’t have to pay for extras (like pon) that Lechuza build into the pon. For people with a shed full of leca (me), it’s largely unnecessary. Though it does contain fertiliser.
Disadvantages of cheap self-watering planters
- They don’t always spend the money for decent R&D so the products don’t really work. Guess which pots I’m referring to here!
- They can be flimsy – especially the water gauges. This doesn’t really bother me, because I don’t trust water gaages (I have no explanation as to why I dont, just a weird quirk – I also don’t really trust calculators, except the one on my phone)
- Lack of quality often manifests itself in the finish of the product – the holes on the inner pots of my T4U cord pots are super uneven. It’s not really an issue, but it’s worth noting.
- They don’t come in big enough sizes. Lechuza is dominating the big-ass-self-watering-plant-pot market.
Would I repurchase?
I love trying new self-watering pots because the principle is largely the same for a lot of them. There’s either a string wick or the inner pot has little moulded legs that reach the reservoir.
Everything else is, I assume, down to personal preference.
Also, I love buying new pots.
Interestingly, I never realised how much I loved the Leizisure pot* until I came to write this review, and now I can’t get anymore BUT it really helped me understand what I look for in a self-watering pot.
Now I have a benchmark, it’ll make finding new ones easier (I hope). I’ll let you know when I find a dupe
*Definitely prefer it to Lechuza, just because it has a removable inner pot.
I was going to write something profound here, but I’ve forgotten what it was.
What the heck was it???
Never mind I guess!
2 thoughts on “Cheap Self-watering Plant Pot review”
This was good, but got me a little confused. We all like the Lechuza’s.. But not happening due to price.
I am just trying to find a supplier for a:
Water meter—no wick system. Leca pebble House plants. And yes I am a Bad plant Mom!!
I have not tried AliExpress. Do I really want to??
Looking for a place in Canada. Yes, Switzerland does ship here. Haaaaaaaaa. 3rd Mortgage.
I am going down a Google Rabbit Hole.. Nice and honest opinions. Thanks.
Aliexpress is not ideal – stuff takes an age to ship and if it seems to good to be true if definitely is. I found these on the US Amazon which seem pricey buts it’s a 6 pack and they look ok (maybe a bit small). I need to order some and post an update!