My DIY Self-Watering System for Hoya Plants

I started using this hoya self-watering system years ago and I have refined it over the years. Some of its advantages are -

  • Hoyas stay consistently moist but not damp. The plants love this and it helps prevent root rot.
  • I can go on vacation and not worry about my plants drying out for a week or two, depending on the type of plant.
  • It costs significantly less than an individual self-watering planter because you can use most pots, like many nursery pots.
  • Evaporation creates humidity around your plants and in the entire room or cabinet if it is in a small, closed area.
  • It works with my aroid mix or most other potting media.
  • You can add things like systemic pesticide or fertilizer to the tray and save a lot of time.


Reservoirs / trays - My favorite are these from Gardener's Supply

Platforms to fit in the trays and keep the plants out of sitting water

Wicking mat - I have tested several and the ones from Gardener's Supply are the worst. They may be fine for a month or so to start seeds with but for everyday use they are terrible. I love these felt mats and buy them on Amazon if they are in stock or directly if they aren't. They don't wear down, can be washed in the washing machine, hold water wonderfully, and I love them.

Pots - I love these clear slotted pots made by Repotme and these two-inch pots for my cuttings.

How to put the system together

Put the insert/platform inside the reservoir/tray and cut the wicking mat to size so one of the longer sides goes down far enough to touch the bottom of the tray and the rest just lay on top.

Fill up the tray with potted plants. I try to group plants with similar watering needs on each tray. For example, I put all anthurium on one tray.


Assuming you are starting with dry plants, I like to put a little water in each pot then water the felt mat until the reservoir is about halfway full. I fill up the reservoir all the way for my plants that really like water, such as anthurium, or when I'm going on vacation.

The plants slowly wick up water from the mat using capillary action and the mat wicks up water from the reservoir.

I wait to water again until the reservoir, mat, and pots are mostly dry with just a little moisture left. I tell if the soil is dry by picking up the pot.

This system is so easy and I can usually go at least a week between watering, often two. Each plant dries absorbs how much water it needs so some trays dry out really quickly because they have plants that are water hogs and some take a long time to dry out.


On my wire shelves, I can just about perfectly fit six of the Gardener's Supply water reservoirs on each shelf.

For my IKEA cabinets, I do the same setup but the trays don't fit perfectly so I do one tray from Gardener's Supply and then the only other thing I can find are these cheap quality 10x10" ones. They fit perfectly on my shelves but they are floppy and I know they won't last forever. I throw most of the kit away and just use the tray and platform.

Another option for the wire shelves is these huge self-watering trays. I can fit three per shelf if I let the edge of the tray hang over a few inches.

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