Do Watering Globes Work Reliably For Your Houseplants?

Last Updated on January 21, 2022 by Grow with Bovees

Plant watering globes are a great way to provide your plants with the water they need, but how exactly do they work?

And what are some of their advantages and disadvantages?

Let’s find out!

What is A Self Watering Globe?

A watering globe, also known as an aqua globe or watering spike, is a device usually made from glass or plastic, with a thin spike at it’s base, used to irrigate plants by means of constant irrigation.

It consists of a small container that holds water and a spike that is pushed into the soil with a small opening that provides your plants with a steady supply of moisture.  

How Do Plant Watering Globes Work?

There are two ways watering globes function in terms of a self watering system. To begin with, the soil forms a partial barrier at the opening of the stem, preventing the water from flowing out.

Furthermore, the water trying to escape the bulb creates a vacuum which prevents air from entering the globe. If the soil is moist around the opening of the stem, there won’t be any air entering into its neck.

If there isn’t enough moisture in the soil, air enters back into the stem, into the globe and releases an equal amount of water into the soil. At this point, self watering will occur.

When the moisture content in the soil reaches equilibrium, no additional water enters the soil.

How Long Do They Last?

There are several factors that may influence how long a watering globe will last.

Typically, 1-2 weeks, depending on the size of the glass globes, the size of the hole, the type of soil they’re planted in, and the plants they’re meant to water. Ambient temperatures and climate conditions will also affect this.

There are several varieties of watering globe, each one influencing the length of time that it will water your plants, but generally up to two weeks.

 How to fill watering bulbs.

The most common method for filling the bulb with water is by using a hose attachment. This allows you to fill them directly from a tap (if you have access to one). The other option is to use a bucket or plastic water bottle filled with water. You can then pour the water through the hole and into the globe.

See also  Palm Tree Wood Uses

How To Install an Aqua Globe for Your Plant

There are several things to consider when installing your plant watering globe. The slender glass stem as well as the glass globe, are both quite delicate and the stem is prone to clog up if the glass watering globe is installed incorrectly.

To keep the glass spike from breaking or clogging up with soil, using a sharp, strong object (pencil, large dowel) to poke a pilot hole is advisable.

Usually, the watering globe is put in at a slight angle, with the stem pointing toward the root of the plant.

However, you may want to experiment with the angle at which you install your globe, as water will escape faster if you angle the watering globe more.This all depends on how much you want to keep your soil moist.

Put the inverted watering globe into the hole you’ve just made with your pencil or dowel. Do not put any pressure on the watering globe, as this will cause the soil to compact in the stem, resulting in clogging.

If the globe does not sit well initially, remove it and make a deeper hole with your selected tool.

How To Clean Aqua Globes

To unclog your aqua globe of soil and dirt, first remove any dirt from its stem using a pipe cleaner or a straw cleaning brush. Then, flush it with water.

If you’ve been using a watering globe for some time, you may start noticing mold or algae growing inside the globe or cloudy residue inside the watering globe. You can use any of the following different methods to get your watering globes clean again.

  • Mix a small amount of baking soda (or bicarbonate) with some water; then pour it into the globe. Add lemon juice or white vinegar afterwards.
  • Coat the inside of the globe with your mixture by swirling it around a bit, then pour it out and wash your globe out with fresh water.
  • Add some fine sand to the watering globe and fill up one fourth of its volume with water. Using your thumb, close up the end of the stem and shake your aqua globe until it is clean. Drain the mixture and rinse well with water.
  • Add a little of bleach into the globe, and fill it completely with water. Put the globe stem side down into a glass or mug, then leave it alone for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse well.

Water Globe Types

When searching for the right aqua globe, the choices are endless. There is such a large variety of different water globes. They come in different sizes, colors, and materials. Amongst all of these, there are usually three main types to choose from.

  • Glass

Most commonly used aqua globes are made from one piece of blown glass. This option may be the most attractive aesthetically, at the price of being more delicate and breakable.

See also  SAE 30 vs 10W30 Oil - What's The Difference?

They are very beautiful and glint in the sunlight. The only downside is that they are fragile, so if you have any small kids or rowdy pets running around, we would not recommend these.

  • Plastic

If you are looking for a less fragile alternative, there are various types of plastic watering globes, usually sold in two pieces, the watering spikes and the reservoir.

Plastic is strong and lightweight, making it a good alternative. Also, with clear plastic, it is easier to keep track of the water levels.  

  • Terracotta

Terracotta watering globes are probably the most recent kind of plant watering globe, and they are also a great option. They come in beautiful designs and fun shapes that are sure to liven up and contrast with your terracotta pots.

It is designed more like a stake with which you can use multiple  different water containers, such as bottles or even glass watering globes.

One great advantage is that it can hold a lot of water because you can choose how big the bottle is that you will be using. So if you are looking to feed larger pots with water, this is definitely the better option.

However, it is slightly fragile, so it will break if you drop it. It is also better to keep these wet constantly, especially if it’s very hot. If they dry up completely, they might develop cracks.

What Type of Houseplants Are Suitable for Aqua Globes?

Some potted plants aren’t suitable for use with a watering globe. A watering globe doesn’t let plants dry out between waterings which may cause them to become susceptible to root rot.

You may not need to worry about watering your houseplants when you’re away from them for an extended period of time, but if you’ve got any indoor plants that require continuous watering, then a watering globe could help ensure they stay healthy.

Are Self-Watering Globes Suitable for Outdoor Plants?

Self watering globes tend to be quite fragile, so using them in a big garden may not be advisable. But, if you have a few small potted plants, a watering globe will also work.

You don’t need to reposition any of your pots when using a watering globe. They’re just as effective at keeping indoor plants watered as outdoor plants.

Nevertheless, as potted plants outside tend to use more water because of rapid evaporation through the sun, you will have to refill your watering spikes more often to ensure a steady supply of water.

Also, depending on the type of outdoor plant it might  be appropriate to use a self watering globe or not. For example, succulents such as Aloe Vera or a Jade plant don’t require a lot of water; so a watering spike would not be advisable.

See also  Can You Burn Stained Wood?

Additionally, the globes not only retain soil moisture but also add beauty to any garden. A build-up of dust and dirt particles can diminish their beauty somewhat, but that is easily remedied with the wipe of a damp cloth.

When To Use Watering Globes

All plants need some water eventually, so if you are unable to keep a normal watering schedule for your potted plants for a period of up to more or less 10 days, self-watering globes are advisable.

Long-term usage however, is only advised if the plants require stable watering and constant moist soil. For larger plants that require larger amounts of water, a bigger variant of watering globe may be required.

Very thirsty plants, such as Bird of Paradise, Fiddle Leaf, Begonias, or African violets , will probably need more water than a conventional glass bulb can hold.

As mentioned before, another species of plants that should not be irrigated with watering globes are succulents.

Do Self-Watering Globes Cause Root Rot?

Self-watering globes should prevent overwatering so they don’t cause root rot for most plant species. However, plants that have a usual watering routine that requires less regular watering,  will not take in the water that is released entirely.

Thus,  the water will create conditions in the soil for bacterial and fungal growth, leading to root rot.

This will not occur as quickly as 1-2 weeks of overwatering, so if you are only using aqua globes for vacations or short term  irrigation, you do not need to worry.  

As soon as you go back to your normal plant care routine, everything will be fine.

DIY Plant Watering Globes

Although aqua globes are fairly cheap, it could become quite expensive if you have a  large garden and require a lot of them, a lot of the time.

For that reason, there is a fairly easy and extremely inexpensive method of making your own, using plastic water bottles.

Also, if you do make your own, you can decide on the size of the water bottle, which would determine how long your water globe will be able to keep your garden moist.

Items needed:

  • Plastic bottle with a lid
  • Nail
  • Candle

Method:

  • Light a candle.
  • Use the flame to heat up the nail.
  • Use the nail to poke four to five small holes in the bottle, through and around the lid.

You are now ready to use your own homemade water spike. Fill the bottle with water, turn the lid on and apply it to any plants you may have at home.

Final Words On Watering Globes

Hopefully you now know more about how plant watering globes work, and whether you want to go ahead and make your own with some empty wine bottles, or spring for some swanky blown glass self – watering bulbs!