Nolen is an avid indoor and outdoor gardener, as well as a frequent traveler who uses clay watering spikes to keep things growing at home.
Terracotta Clay Watering Spikes: A Low-Tech Irrigation System for Houseplants
Over the years, we've tried a number of automatic houseplant watering systems to help keep our plants alive while we're on vacation. Each of these systems had some issue or another that eventually caused us to abandon them.
Electronic houseplant watering systems are prone to failure from power outages and mechanical breakdowns—including plugged tubes or clogged filters. And if any of these complex systems fail, you could lose all of your plants if you've relied solely on them for watering while your gone.
The cost of automatic houseplant watering systems can be quite high, not to mention having to place all of your plants around a central watering location. For homes with lots of plants in different rooms, this can be very inconvenient to say the least.
Why We Love Clay Plant Watering Spikes
We finally settled on using simple, foolproof terracotta spikes, which are hollow and designed to be used with a recycled wine or other long-necked bottle. This simple system has saved us money on equipment, electricity, water, and best of all has helped save our plants when we've been gone on vacation for up to two weeks.
We love to use terracotta clay watering spikes, because they're simple to use and not subject to the mechanical or electrical failures mentioned above. There are no moving parts or batteries to worry about, and there's only two main components: the spike and a glass or plastic bottle to deal with.
A big advantage of using clay watering spikes is that you take the water to the plant, instead of having to relocate all of your houseplants around a central irrigation system before leaving on vacation.
How They Work
They're made of terracotta clay that's slightly porous to water, allowing only a few drops to be released into your potted plant each hour. These low-tech devices are handy to use even when you're home, since they make watering houseplants much easier.
As a bonus, they'll help plants grow better by supplying a constant supply of water—and nutrients if you choose to add things like liquid fertilizer to the water bottles.
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How to Use Clay Spikes for Watering Plants
We chose clay plant watering spikes made by Upforsey for their durability, ease of use, and the fact that Upforsey products have a lifetime warranty. If one ever breaks or fails to work, you can get a replacement watering spike for free.
- You'll want to use a bottle with a long neck, such as a wine bottle, which fits all the way down inside the clay spike's tube.
- Choose a large or small bottle, depending on how much water the plant may need, and how long you might be gone. For very low-water-use plants, such as succulents, you may not need a bottle at all, just simply fill the clay spike with water.
- For larger plants, such as indoor trees or palms, you may need to use more than one clay spike and wine bottle. Larger, 2-liter wine bottles will work, but be careful to lean them against a solid object, since they can be top heavy.
How Long Will Clay Watering Spikes Keep Plants Hydrated?
The longest we've left our plants being watered with clay watering spikes is two weeks. For some of the larger, more "thirsty" plants, such as a ponytail palm, we used two clay spikes, along with two large wine bottles.
Test Your Watering System Before Traveling
The best way to know how long a clay spike houseplant watering system will keep your plants watered is to test it before you travel. If you notice some larger plants needing water sooner than you hoped for, try using a larger size of bottle, or more than one clay watering spike in the same pot.
Be sure to use a drip tray under your plants to protect your floor or furniture, just in case there is seepage while your gone.
We love using clay spikes to keep our houseplants watered, and if you have plants and love to travel, we're sure you'll love them too!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Nolen Hart