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July 26, 2011


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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Converting Clay and Ceramic Drain Hole Pots to Sub-Irrigated Planters (SIPs):



Hi, I just had a thought. I'll try to express it clearly but English's not my first language so be indulgent. Maybe you can fill a plastic shopbag or garbage bag with clay pebbles, then attach an empty and cut water bottle to let water in it. You place the plastic bag on the bottom of your classical clay pot. Then you slice the upper side of the plastic bag for overflowing water. You put felt strips or cotton in some of the slices for the water to go up. Then you put soil and plants. What do you think?


I'm not sure I completely understand your design Isla. I guess my question is why you would want to do this.


Don't I need a wicking element to suck the water up? In some examples I found it, in others I didn't find it.

Jim Walker

I took your advice and put together my own youtube video on how to make a sub-irrigation video in less than five minutes. Enjoy!


I did something similar with a 2 foot high ceramic planter with the traditional water hole in its base. I lined the ceramic planter with a heavy duty black plastic trash bag (construction grade, actually, purchased at Home Depot) - that is, I used it inside the planter just like I would place the trash bag to line a trash can. I took a tupperware container that would fill @ about 1/3 of the planter, drilled several holes in the lid of the tupperware container, and also cut a slit and snaked a 2 inch wide, 18 inch long strip of polyester batting through the hole to act as a wick to draw water from the bottom of the tupperware bowl into the soil. (When I later filled the soil in, I made sure the batting rose up through the dirt, packed into the center and draped around a little.)

I also cut a hole into the tupperware lid sized to fit a long plastic hose that went from just above the top of the ceramic planter into the tupperware container (for adding water). I slit several holes into the sides of the plastic bag just below the level of the top of the plastic container so that if I overfilled or it rained, the water would seep out and drain out the ceramic container's bottom, and also leave some air in the top of the water container. Filled the planter and trash bag with soil (threading the wick up as I filled, planted a nice palm tree, and cut the black bag off so it wasn't visible. Watered the whole thing thoroughly, and thereafter watered with a funnel into the plastic pipe, stopping when water seeped out the bottom. That little palm tree loved it there, though I had to throw it out at the end of autumn as there was no place to bring it indoors over winter.

I'm sorry I don't have pictures to offer, as it took me weeks of trolling this site and others to figure out what to try. I did SIP in all my balcony window boxes, too, and since I have to carry all the water from my bathroom in a 3 gallon watering can, must have save myself hundreds of trips using the SIP system. It works!

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