People have a love-hate relationship with watering bulbs & globes – mostly because they have cool designs but can be quite fiddly too. They’re also pretty fragile at times but are not as efficient as watering stakes. With that said, what are they exactly?
Watering bulbs & globes are self-watering devices that keep indoor plants’ soil consistently moist. They typically come in globular shapes and are often made of plastic or glass. They’re ideal for watering plants that thrive on constantly moist soil, and should be kept away from cacti & succulents.
Below, I elaborate more on how to use watering globes, their types, and possible places where you can purchase them:
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How to use plant watering globes?
Plant watering globes are commonly known as aqua globes or watering bulbs. They work on a simple principle of releasing water as the soil dries, providing a steady supply of water to your plants. Here’s how you can use them:
1. Fill the globe ¾ full with water. Most globes have a tube or stem with a small opening to insert the water. It’s helpful to use a water pitcher to pour the water in, rather than placing it under a running faucet. But there are also open-ended water globes, which makes it easier to refill without taking them out of the soil.
2. Water the plant’s soil beforehand to ensure it’s not dry. The watering globe will release all of the water overnight if the potting soil is dry. So make sure it’s nice and damp before putting your watering globe in.
3. Make a vertical hole in the plant’s soil using a pencil. Ensure it’s about the size of the watering globe’s stem width and is halfway deep into the soil. This prevents soil compaction and ensures that the globe’s stem is not damaged once inserted.
4. Gently insert the watering globe into the hole, pointing straight down. Push it down and rotate it a bit until it’s stable, but be careful not to push too hard as it might break. Try not to put it at an angle as this will allow more water to escape from the globe. If there are very little bubbles appearing at the top, then it’s properly placed in the soil. But too many bubbles usually means you’ll have to take it out and try again because it’s releasing water too fast.
- Keep an eye on the water level in the globe. When there’s about ¼ of water left in the bulb, remove it from the soil, clean as necessary, refill it, and place it back in the pot.
Quite straightforward, isn’t it? But you may be wondering: what’s happening exactly in the soil to make this work?
The opening is blocked by the damp soil, causing small amounts of water to trickle out down the narrow stem. But as the soil dries up, there’s a slight pressure change as air can now enter the opening, allowing more water to be released as needed. This cycle continues, ensuring that your plant receives a steady supply of water.
But remember when I said watering bulbs & globes can be fiddly earlier? Well …
Can you overwater with water globes?
It’s possible to overwater with water globes if the following happens:
- They are not inserted into the soil correctly. As mentioned above, placing it at a tilted angle will cause more water to seep out into the soil.
- They are not suitable for the specific plant’s water needs. Plants such as cacti and succulents thrive on drier conditions, so watering them constantly will eventually kill them. Only use a watering globe on plants with high moisture needs like a Calathea and Monstera plant.
- The plant’s soil is too porous and cannot hold water well. This causes the globe to release more water than the plant can absorb.
- Using an incorrectly-sized watering globe. For example, a large-sized watering globe would be too much for a small plant. The chances of it toppling over into an angle will cause more water to be released into the soil and overwater it.
Types of Watering Globes
Watering globes, also known as watering bulbs, are an innovative solution to keep your indoor plants hydrated. They come in various types, primarily differentiated by their material and size.
There are primarily two types of material most watering bulbs & globes are made of – Plastic and Glass. Here’s table showing the pros and cons of using either one:
|Feature||Plastic Watering Globes||Glass Watering Globes|
|Material||Made from durable plastic||Made from glass|
|Cost||More cost-effective||Potentially more expensive|
|Handling||Easy to handle and insert into the soil||Require careful handling|
|Durability||Less prone to breakage||More fragile|
|Safety||Safer around children and pets||Risk of breakage requires caution around children and pets|
|Aesthetics||Typically simpler in design||Often come in a variety of colors and designs|
|Placement||Easy to place due to light weight||Ensured firm placement due to heavier weight|
PRO TIP: Keep your watering globes away from direct sunlight. Glass-made ones will cause hot spots and possibly burn your plant or furniture, while plastic-made ones may melt.
There are typically small and large-sized watering globes to choose from, depending on the size of your plant and its water needs. Here’s a table to help you decide which is the best pick:
|Feature||Small Watering Globes||Large Watering Globes|
|Water Capacity||Lower water capacity due to its small bulb size||Greater water capacity due to its large bulb size|
|Ideal Use||Suitable for small indoor plants||Ideal for bigger-sized plants that require more water|
|Hydration Duration||Can sustain plant hydration for a shorter period due to lower water capacity||Can sustain plant hydration for a longer period|
|Refill Frequency||Needs frequent refills||Needs refills about once every 1-2 weeks|
A watering bulb or globe are most commonly known for their round, globular shape with a thin narrow stem. But they can also come in various creative forms, like a mushroom, frog, flamingo, and even flowers! The shapes themselves do not matter as much as their size or material, it’s usually more of a preference than anything else.
In the end, watering globes are a convenient tool for plant care, offering a balance between functionality and aesthetics. Whether you choose plastic or glass, small or large, there’s a watering globe to suit every plant’s needs.
Where to buy watering globes for plants?
You can pretty much buy them anywhere, be it online or at your nearby gardening stores. But here are a few that I think are pretty neat:
- Mini Aqua Globe from Amazon. It’s got about 1,214 ratings with a solid 4.3 out of 5 stars. It’s made out of glass and has some pretty design, but the sizes will vary since they are hand-blown glass. Try these out with your medium to small-sized houseplants, and don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time – it does require a bit of finagling.
- Self Watering Mushroom Globe and Octopus Plant Waterer from Etsy. Both of these come from 2 different shops but they are available in both small and large sizes. Not only can you water your tiny and big plants, the designs are also really cool!
- Iridescent Recycled Glass Watering Globe from Etsy. Now this one is a hybrid between a watering globe & watering stake. The globe acts as a water reservoir you can easily fill in from the top, which is then placed in a terracotta watering spike that will slowly drip water into the soil. If you’re more interested in using watering stakes to water your plants, you can read this article instead!
It may also be worth checking out your local Home Improvement Stores (Home Depot or Lowe’s) and garden centers or nurseries. You can get a better feel of the watering bulbs, and even some tips from the staff. Just be sure to take into consideration the size of your plant and its water needs.
Do watering globes work for indoor plants?
Watering globes work best for indoor plants with high moisture needs, such as Calatheas and Monsteras. These plants do best with consistent damp soil, which the watering globes can provide with its slow release of water over time. Which is why it is often used when one is away on a holiday, so that the plant has a steady supply of water. But avoid using them on plants that need to dry out in between watering along with plants that don’t require much watering like cacti & succulents.
You can also DIY your own watering bulbs & globes at home by recycling wine or plastic bottles, preferably the ones with a relatively slim neck. Clean them out thoroughly first, fill it ¾ full with water, apply a mesh or coffee filter over the opening and secure it with a rubber band and you’re good to go! Again, remember – the size of your homemade watering globes depends on your plant type and its water needs.
DIY Watering Globes
There is a way you can utilize some of your items at home to create several watering bulbs & globes. However, the downside to this is that it may not be as effective as the readily-available options. But hey, I’d love for you guys to prove me wrong! So here’s how you can make your DIY watering globes:
1. Gather several empty 250mL, 500mL, 1L plastic bottles with caps. The varying bottle sizes will make it easy to match it with the right plant size, like a 1L bottle to large-sized plants like Fiddle Leaf Fig or Monstera. Alternatively, you can also use wine or glass bottles as long as they still have their lids or corks.
Psst! If you want to know more about Fiddle Leaf Figs and Monsteras, check out the following articles:
- Why Do Fiddle Leaf Figs Get Leggy? & How to Fix It
- What Happens If You Cut The Top Off A Fiddle Leaf Fig? – With Helpful Tips
- Training an Indoor Monstera to Climb – With Helpful Tips
- Are Terracotta Pots Good For Monsteras? – With Helpful Tips
- Do Monsteras Like To Be Misted To Grow Better?
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming …
2. Clean the bottles thoroughly, removing any labels or stickers. This is mostly just to wash off any excess liquid in the bottle before you start using them.
3. Poke/drill 2-3 tiny holes at the bottle’s cap or cork. This will allow the water to seep out slowly, providing a steady supply of water to your plants. The more holes you put in, the more water will drip out of the bottle so adjust accordingly to your specific plant’s water needs.
4. Fill the bottle ¾ full with water and tightly screw the cap back on. Use filtered or rainwater as tap water in some regions is high in mineral content. These tend to leave behind white residue which will accumulate overtime in the bottle. You can read our article on tap water and rainwater here for more info!
5. Upend the bottle and push it cap-side down into the plant’s soil about 3-4 inches deep. The depth should be enough to keep the bottle stable but not too much that it’s touching the roots of the plant. The water will then slowly drip out of the holes, watering your plants over time.
6. Monitor the bottle’s water level and refill it once it’s almost finished. Some cleaning also may be beneficial to unclog the holes. But other than that, that’s all you need to do!
Frequently Asked Questions About Watering Bulbs & Globes for Indoor Plants:
Do watering globes work?
Watering globes work more effectively on plants with high moisture needs such as Calatehas and Monsteras. They thrive best when their soil is constantly damp. However, some plants prefer drought-like conditions, such as cacti and succulents, so it’s best to water them normally, and keep the globes away from them.
Are watering globes good for all plants, indoor and outdoor?
Watering globes are not good for all plants, only the ones that require consistently moist or wet soil. It’s not suitable for drought-tolerant plants that require a drying period in between waterings. It’s also not advisable to use the globes on outdoor plants as the heat may either melt the plastic-made ones, or cause heat spots with the glass-made ones.
What plants like/use watering globes?
Calatheas, Peace Lilies, & Ferns do well with watering globes because they require consistent moisture levels. The same thing can also be said about plants that thrive in wet soil. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check on the plants as they will still need additional care in other aspects.
How do you water indoor plants while on vacation?
Use self-watering systems such as watering globes, wicking, and drip irrigation to water indoor plants while on vacation. However, ensure you water the plants first thoroughly before setting up the system. Another option is to ask a friend or hire a plant sitter to water your plants.
What type of water to use for indoor plants?
Use room-temperature filtered, distilled or rainwater for indoor plants. These types are usually free from chemicals found in tap water, which can accumulate in the plant’s soil and harm them. Although, it’s typically best to stick with rain water.
You can read more about the benefits of using rain water on your plants in this article here!
What time is best to water potted plants?
Early morning before the temperatures rise is the best time to water potted plants. This allows the water to reach the roots and be absorbed before evaporation can occur. Alternatively, if you don’t have time in the morning (or like to sleep in like I do), late afternoon is the second best option too.
Luckily for you, we have an article explaining in-depth about the worst times to water plants here!
How often should I be watering my indoor plants?
Weekly to biweekly watering is typically recommended for watering indoor plants. However, this will largely depend on the plant type, its size, and its environment. When in doubt, a good general rule is to water when the top 1-2 inches of soil dries out.
Disclaimer: The sources used for this article are from forums where people relate their firsthand experiences of using watering globes. At present, there unfortunately doesn’t seem to be any articles from reputable sites discussing the pros and cons of these items. But if you’re ever used one, you are welcome to tell us all about it down in the comments 😀
- Dave’s Garden. (2007, May 21). Aqua Globes – Do they work? Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/829421/
- Garden.org. (2012, June 6). Aqua Globes. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://garden.org/frogs/view/105924/
- Houzz. (2014, January 31). Aqua Globes. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.houzz.com/discussions/1378267/aquaglobes
- Houzz. (2014, February 22). Do Aqua Globes work or are they a waste of money? Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.houzz.com/discussions/1420692/do-aqua-globes-work-or-are-they-a-waste-of-money
- Houzz. (2014, March 9). Use of Aqua Globes for watering plants. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.houzz.com/discussions/1497846/use-of-aqua-globes-for-watering-plants
- Reddit. (2012, November 15). Self watering globes. Yay or nay? Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.reddit.com/r/houseplants/comments/138kr0b/self_watering_globes_yay_or_nay/
- Reddit. (2020, November 17). Do Self-Watering Plant Globes Actually Work??? Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.reddit.com/r/houseplants/comments/jvsrxn/do_selfwatering_plant_globes_actually_work/
- Reddit. (2022, July 18). Opinions on water globes. What plants do these not work well with? Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.reddit.com/r/houseplants/comments/x88naa/opinions_on_water_globes_what_plants_do_these_not/