How To Use A Self Watering Pot For African Violets

Question From: K. Baker - Madison Heights, Michigan, United States
Q: Are you familiar with the pots specially made for potting African Violets? Last fall, I needed to re-pot my 3-4 violets that had that "long neck" stem for being in a pot too small for them. The new pots are two pieces, one for potting the actual plant & that fits into the slightly larger one which holds the water because violets like to be watered from the bottom. I am very disappointed in these pots. The water just sits in them for what could be hours....even tho violets are not supposed to stand in water. None of the three pots draw up the water as they're supposed to quite unlike the standard clay pots do. They are too expensive to not be useful. I called the store to report this & was told to just pour some of the excess from the bottom into the top pot. I remember reading one of your columns once that said we should submerge clay pots fully before planting the flowers & wonder if I should have done the same with these violet pots even though there was no specific instructions to do so nor did staff at English Gardens say this was necessary when I purchased them. Would you recommend that I start over by removing the plants, submerging the pots & then re-potting the violets? Why would the water just sit still in the lower pot & not water the plant as it should? I would have chosen the clay pots but in the fall the selection of them are scarce. Thank you for any assistance.

Kathy, the water in the outer pot is slowly absorbed by the walls of the inner pot and the moisture transfers to the soil by a process called osmosis. They keep the soil consistantly moist and prevent under and over-watering. While I have not used them I know many are sold and I have never heard any complaints. So they do water the plants, but it is a slow process. Google How to Use a Self Watering Pot for Violets for more information.   Best and Happy Yardening, Nancy.