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Water globes tend to divide house plant people into the camp of ‘yes, they will be a LIFE SAVER’ or ‘they will KILL your plant’.
Neither is true. They can be a helpful tool in certain situations, but they’re not a viable alternative to self-watering pots. But on the other hand, they don’t hold enough water to be a real threat to your plants UNLESS you’re fastidious about keeping them topped up.
You don’t need them. I don’t have any. But I can see why some people like them. Like a lot of things in this hobby, you need to have a basic understanding of things like overwatering and underwatering before using tools like water globes.
How to use water globes
Using water globes to water plants isn’t new. The practice of filling a vessel with water and then turning it upside down and sticking it in the soil is OLD. Water globes are just pretty.
So, if you want to use water globes, keep a few things in mind:
- Don’t use them in dry soil. The water will drain out quickly and then you’re back to square one.
- Don’t keep them continually filled up, or you’ll end up overwatering your plant.
Benefits of using water globes for house plants
Water globes can be great when it’s really hot, and your plants are drying out daily. We don’t all have the time to be watering our plants daily, so keeping them topped up with a water globe can be a great plan in hot weather.
If you don’t have a water globe, you can achieve the same effect with a bottle. Drink a bottle of wine, wash it out, and hey presto, you have watering globe.
They’re also a great idea if you’re planning on going away for a couple of weeks because the soil will stay wet for longer
They’re great for plants that hate to dry out, like Calathea and maidenhair ferns.
Problems with using water globes for house plants
I’m actually quite taken by the idea of using a water globe for maidenhair ferns, and keeping it topped off (obviously keeping an eye out in case it gets too wet) but I can’t really see the point of using them in normal plants.
If your plants do dry out really quickly (like in two or three days) I can see how they’d be helpful but mind don’t. Whilst a lot of plants need water, they don’t want to be sat in it, so elongating the amount of time the soil is damp just seems a bit…risky.
Reminder that I live in a temperate climate. I can 100% see the appeal in a warmer country. They might also be a good shout for outdoor plants like basil when you’re not getting much rain.
Also, there’s the issue that water can end up pooling in one area. At least with self-watering pots the water spreads from bottom to top.
With water globes, it just spreads out from one point, so if you’re using them exclusively to water, you’ll need to remember to change where you place them so all the soil gets equal amounts of moisture – another reason why you shouldn’t really use them on dry soil.
Alternatives to water globes
Any kind of bottle with a narrow neck is fine, but I like a plastic bottle, with the lid screwed on and three holes screwed in the lid. This is what I use to water my moss poles, and I honestly never considered using it to keep my plants watered too.
To be fair, you could use loads of different receptacles, as long as you can drill small holes in them and get them in contact with the soil. If whatever you’re using isn’t in contact with the soil, it’ll just drain out. The idea is that water will only be absorbed by dry soil, but wet soil will basically plug up the holes.
I actually think that something with tiny holes will be more effective than a watering globe, though not as pretty.
I don’t think water globes are worth investing in (not that they’re expensive) if you’re not struggling to water your plants. They’re like self-watering pots in that they’re more helpful in theory than they are in reality.
However, I can see the appeal for certain plants (hmm, possibly fittonia too, if you can find a teeny one) and in certain climates.