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DIY Self Watering Pot – How to Water Plants Automatically

Follow these simple steps to make a DIY self watering pot or planter to water plants automatically and help keep your plants alive year round with little to no maintenance.

automatic diy self watering pot waters on soil moisture

Materials Needed to Make a DIY Self Watering Pot:

  • soil container or pot from local gardening store
  • container for water reservoir
  • Self Watering Pot Hobby Kit Starter Set from Adosia
  • drill with 3/8″, 1/4″ and 1/16″ (optional) bits
  • 3M Hi-Strength 90 Spray Adhesive or similar
  • sandpaper (optional)
  • 1 1/4″ x 2 1/2″ plastic screen for simple pump filter (optional)
  • plastic enclosure from Adosia store with velcro strips (optional)

 

Step 1:  Prepare the Soil Container & Water Reservoir

Finding the right container and reservoir is the first step in making your diy self watering pot. Here we use a 10″ standard garden pot for the soil container and a cylindrical 3L Sterilite trash can for the water reservoir. Both were purchased locally at Walmart for around $10 total. Discard any water collector disc that came with the pot along with any lid from the trash can as they will not be needed.

Place the soil container into the reservoir and observe how the container fits to rest sitting perfectly (bottom left image). Any planting container or reservoir can be used for your DIY self watering pot as long as the soil container is kept separate from the reservoir water. For the creative and daring, a wood planter box having the interior treated with a few coats of liquid rubber sealant would work nicely as well.

diy self watering pot container and reservoir
soil container for diy self watering pot

 

1a)  prepare the soil container (garden pot):

  • drill a 3/8″ hole about with the center of the hole being about 1/2″ to 3/4″ down from the  top of the upper rim of the potting container as shown in the image below:
diy self watering pot upper drill hole location
arrow shows soil container drill hole location

 

1b)  prepare the water reservoir (storage bin / trash can)

  • next drill another 3/8″ hole about 4″ down from the top of the reservoir. This is an exit hole for the water transport tubing connected to the pump inside the reservoir. The tubing should have a 1/4″ inner diameter which fits snugly to the submersible water pump (tubing ships with the Adosia Self Watering Pot hobby kit).
  • finally drill a 1/4″ hole in the reservoir container about an inch down and few inches to the left of the 3/8″ hole drilled in the last step. This hole needs to be located low enough so the wiring from the pump and water level sensor switch can extend from the reservoir bottom (where the pump will be located), to the electrical connectors on the control board.
self watering pot lower drill hole locations
arrows show the drill hole locations needed for the water reservoir

 

  • scuff the bottom of the reservoir lightly with sandpaper in a small area where the pump will be glued. This will help the pump bond better to the plastic reservoir

 

Step 2:  Attach the Water Level Sensor Switch to the Pump

Preparing the submersible pump for installation into the reservoir of the diy self watering pot will take around 5-10 minutes. Before we glue the pump to the bottom of the water reservoir, we’ll first use sandpaper to scuff all the contact surface areas where we will be gluing plastic together. This enhances the bond between plastic parts when glued together.

We will also want to attach a water level sensor switch with the reservoir so it’s at an appropriate vertical height to trigger when the water level starts to get low. We also want to make sure to position the water level sensor switch at a vertical height above the pump to ensure enough water is always in the reservoir when the pump runs to prevent it from ever running dry.

In this example, we’ll be gluing the water level sensor switch to the reservoir. The components needed will look something like this.

diy self watering pot subassembly
components included with the Adosia self watering pot hobby kit

 

2a)  scuff plastic surfaces in preparation for application of glue

  • use sandpaper to scuff the underside of the pump (when laying flat) where it will be glued to the reservoir floor

scuffed pump for diy self watering pot

 

  • now scuff the three surrounding sides located at the rear of the pump towards the wiring as show below
left side of pump scuffed for diy self watering pot
notice sandpaper scuff all along the back edge
back edge of pump scuffed for diy self watering pot
scuff with sandpaper all along the back edge

 

  • scruff the underside and top around the hole of the small plastic retaining mounting clip
pump retaining clip scuffed for diy self watering pot
notice scuffing along inside of small plastic mounting clip included with kit to secure pump

 

2b)  glue to the water level sensor switch to plastic pump retaining clip mount

  • apply the 3M spray adhesive to the underside of the pump retaining clip mount and to the top around the semicircle hole as show below. Let stand for a few minutes as instructed by the glue canister
pump retaining clip with glue applied to top for diy self watering pot
spray 3M adhesive glue around the top as shown
pump retaining clip with glue applied to bottom for diy self watering pot
spray 3M adhesive on the underside as shown

 

  • unscrew the plastic mounting nut on the base of the level sensor switch and remove the rubber o-ring and set it aside as we’ll use that later for an easy diy pump water intake filter
  • re-screw the plastic mounting nut onto the base of the level sensor switch just enough to slide over the thickness of the plastic pump retaining clip.
  • Spray the adhesive glue along the inside of the plastic mounting nut as show and let sit a few minutes

water level sensor switch with glue applied to thread area for diy self watering pot

 

  • glue the water level sensor switch to the pump retaining clip mount
water level sensor switch glued to pump retaining clip for diy self watering pot
attach the water level sensor switch as shown
level switch glued to retaining clip for diy self watering pot
attach the water level sensor switch as shown

level switch glued to retaining clip for diy self watering pot - rear view closeup

level switch glued to retaining clip for diy self watering pot - rear view

  • allow the bonding adhesive dry for 10-15 minutes to secure the level switch to the pump retaining clip

 

2c)  attach the water level sensor switch / retaining clip assembly to the water pump

  • with the pump laying flat, spray the 3M spray adhesive around the three exposed edges of towards the rear of the as shown below on the left
glue applied to pump for diy self watering pot
adhesive bond applied to rear sides of pump
glue applied to pump and level switch for diy self watering pot
adhesive bond applied to inside of retaining clip
  • spray the 3M adhesive around the inside edges of the retaining clip assembly as shown above right
  • allow the 3M bonding adhesive to rest for about a minute before attaching the level switch to the water pump
  • attach the level switch assembly to the water pump by sliding the level switch pump retaining clip assembly down the rear of the pump as shown below
glue the level switch to the pump for diy self watering pot
attaching the water level sensor switch assembly to the water pump
  • allow the bonding adhesive dry for 10-15 minutes to secure the level switch assembly to the water pump

 

2d)  attach a screen filter to the pump (optional but recommended)

  • spray the 3M adhesive around the rim of the pump intake (where water flows in) and let set a minute
submersible pump for diy self watering pot
apply 3M adhesive around the outer rim of the water intake (flow in)

 

  • fold the plastic screen in half and then fold it over the water intake of the pump as shown below, and then secure the screen in place with the rubber o-ring taken from the water level sensor switch – let dry for 10-15
pump filter screen and o-ring for diy self watering pot
plastic screen cutting (1-1/4″ x 2-1/2″)
make a pump filter using a plastic screen and o-ring for diy self watering pot
adhesive bond applied to inside of retaining clip

 

2e)  attach the watering tube to the submersible pump

  • attach the 1/4″ inner diameter tubing firmly to the top of the pump as shown below
plastic water tubing attached to pump for diy self watering pot
tubing (1/4″ inner diameter) attached to the top of the water pump

 

Step 3:  Complete the DIY Self Watering Pot Reservoir

First we will gluing the pump to the bottom of the reservoir, followed by pulling both the water tubing and wiring through their respective drill holes to the outside of the reservoir

 

3a)  glue the pump to the bottom of the water reservoir

  • spray the 3M bonding adhesive on the bottom of the pump and on the bottom of the reservoir where both were previously scuffed with sandpaper and let sit for a minute or two
  • press the pump down firmly onto the floor of there reservoir and let set to dry for about 20 minutes – it may help to place something on top of the pump to keep it flush with the reservoir bottom while the bonding adhesive dries
pump and water level sensor switch assembly glued to bottom of diy self watering pot reservoir
pump subassembly glued to bottom of the self watering pot reservoir

 

3b)  pull the tubing and wiring through the reservoir drill holes

  • first pull the 3/8″ outer diameter tubing through the previously drilled 3/8″ hole to the outside of the water reservoir
  • next guide the pump and level switch wiring through the previously drilled 1/4″ hole to the outside of the reservoir
  • if you purchased an 3D plastic printed enclosure, adhere a fuzzy velcro strip to the back of the enclosure while adhering the prickly velcro strip to the upper side of the pot – attach the enclosure to the pot as shown below
diy self watering pot ready to connect wiring
wiring and water tube pulled to outside of pump
mounting an enclosure for diy self watering pot electronics
velcro strips adhered to the pot and enclosure

 

Step 4:  Connect the Electronics for the DIY Self Watering Pot

Now we connect the water level sensor switch, the pump, and the moisture sensor to the electronics control board.

  • insert the Adosia electronics control board into the enclosure base attached to the side of the pot / soil container
  • first connect the water level sensor switch (yellow wires) as show in the image below
  • next connect the submersible pump (black and red wire) as show in the image below
  • finally connect the soil moisture sensor (black, red and blue wires) as show in the image below – make sure the blue wire is oriented as shown below – the black wire should be closest to the top of the pot with the blue wire closest to the bottom
diy self watering pot electronics control board
level switch (l), pump (c), moisture sensor (r)

 

Step 5:  Complete the DIY Self Watering Pot

Here we will demonstrate how to connect the pump and water level sensor switch wiring to the Adosia control electronics.

 

 

 

diy self watering pot electronics control board
level switch (l), pump (c), moisture sensor (r)
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