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If you know anything about me, you know I love to travel, even just to get away for weekends. I also love my houseplants, and like many plant owners, there’s a special part of the brain reserved for making sure they’re ok when we’re away.
Short of having a neighbours drop in to water them from time to time, there have been a few nifty innovations in recent times to help avoid coming home to thirsty, droopy plants.
Watering globes have come to prominence in recent years, and they are certainly a very useful tool to have as an option.
But how long do water globes for plants last? Water globes usually last 7 to 14 days depending on their size and the type of soil they are placed in. If the soil is dry your watering globe will disperse water faster to the soil, than if the soil was moist. There are also other factors that can affect how long your watering globe last. These will be discussed below.
Can you leave them in charge of your green family for two days? A week? More? Keep reading for some answers to these and more questions, including how a water globe works, and how to use one properly.
What are Watering Globes?
Plant watering globes are colorful glass receptacles that have long necks (sometimes called “spikes”). They are quite decorative, coming in many colors and patterns, and make for attractive additions to a pot plant.
They are sometimes called aqua bulbs, aqua globes, or watering bulbs, and are fairly cheap to buy.
Most importantly, they can be filled with water, which through a combination of basic chemistry and physics, allows for a slow dispersion of water to the soil of your pot plant without drowning the plant.
How long does watering globes last? Manufacturers have claimed that these watering globes can be left unattended for up to two weeks, providing sufficient water to the roots. But it’s not necessarily as simple as that. There, a couple of factors that can influence this usability quite acutely.
Why Use these Self-Watering Globes?
So, one obvious reason to use a watering globe is to water your plants when you are away. But watering globes actually have a few other useful advantages.
1. They protect against spills
Some plants do not like water directly on their leaves, which can happen when you hand-water plants. This encourages fungus and overwatering, causing plants to turn brown, become infected or even die. A watering globe feeds water directly to the soil, where the roots can do their job.
2. They are better at controlling water supply
Some plants vary their requirements from season to season. It’s hard for us to tell exactly how much water a plant may need at any given time. The “science” involved in the watering globe is based on maintaining equilibrium in the soil’s moisture. And it’s much better at estimating that than we are.
3. They enhance plants visually while being eco-friendly
Yes, it seems a little vein, but who doesn’t like a splash of color in their plant displays? And because they’re glass, you avoid any plastic contamination, can be reused endlessly, and cut down on some personal housework.
How do Watering Globes Work?
Here comes the science! The principle of a watering globe is that the soil feeding your plant’s roots is kept at a constant moisture factor. This isn’t a new concept in physics. But this is a very useful application of the idea, to be honest.
The globe is filled with water, and the “spike” or stem of the globe is planted into the soil, setting the globe upside down or at an angle to the ground. A small hole at the end of the stem feeds water into the soil at a slow but steady pace.
The pace is determined by two things:
First, the end of the spike is in soil, so there is a barrier to release.
Second, the damp soil around the neck saturates the area, so that no air can enter the neck, and no water can escape. As the soil dries out, more water is released, until there’s a saturation point once again.
While the rate that the water releases depends on the type of soil and the conditions in the room or outdoors, the result is a slow release of a drop or two at a time. Importantly, the soil never totally dries out, and the roots aren’t drowned in too much water.
Are there Different Types of Water Globes?
Watering globes do come in a couple of variants, and you may want to look into what works for you.
For example, the spike section can be acquired separately, and you can simply attach your own bottle to the end. There are several variations of detachable plastic watering spikes as well.
One advantage of this option is that you can choose the size of the receptacle, to a degree. I recommend glass over plastic for environmental reasons, though.
The normal option is the all-in-one glass-blown unit. These can be awkward to refill, because of the small hole at the end of the spike. They are also somewhat delicate, being made from thin blown glass.
Thankfully, some clever innovators have created a unit that can detach from the spike. This allows you to fill the receptacle section easier.
How Long Do Watering Globes Last?
So, the big question – how long do they last? Or, at least, how often do they need to be refilled?
It is generally accepted that a large watering globe can last for up to two weeks before needing a refill. But that number comes with caveats. It is largely dependent on the soil, the weather conditions, the type of plant, and so on.
With some watering globe options as mentioned above, you might also be able to vary the size of the receptacle. So, it’s really a matter of experimenting at first to see what applies to your plants.
I recommend trying out your watering globe while you’re home. Monitor how fast it’s being emptied and apply your best practice accordingly.
Your globe might last only 5 days if it is a smaller watering globe model. Maybe your plant is particularly water-absorbent and uses more water than another. Some watering globes can be angled in the soil to affect the rate of water use. If you use the same globe at a different angle, it may also affect how long it lasts.
The bottom line is: If you take the time to test and experiment, you can find an ideal solution for your own needs. If you find a way to make your watering globe last up to two weeks, you’re on your way.
How to Use Watering Globes Properly?
Watering globes aren’t complicated to use. To use them well may take a little bit of trial and error. But in essence, filling a globe with water is the hardest part.
But there are a few things you can do to make using it even more effective. For example, it’s a good idea to dampen the soil before you stick the spike in for the weekend. Putting the globe in dry soil will drain the globe a little too quickly.
One other issue to keep an eye on is that the long nozzle of the needle may become clogged with soil particles. Take a look whenever you refill, to make sure there’s no blockage. If there is, carefully use a toothpick or similar thin item to clear the debris.
To help prevent blockages from happening, make a hole in the soil before you push the spike into the plant pot. This will prevent particles from pushing into the nozzle.
Your watering globe should last at a minimum for around a week, even if most factors lean towards using lots of water. But that shouldn’t detract from the knowledge that your plants are being well taken care of passively.
No need for a power outlet. No need to consider whether your plants are in the right area. No need for any complicated preparation. Perfect.
Can You Use Watering Globes for Outdoor Plants?
There’s no functional reason you cannot use watering globes outdoors. They work better in pots than in the open garden soil, though. So, you may want to limit their use in that respect.
Remember that they are also delicate, so if your plants are in high-traffic areas with kids and dogs, they might be vulnerable to damage.
They also tend to get dirtier outdoors. That’s just how it is. A rinse whenever you refill will take care of that.
A Word on Succulents
Users of watering globes seem to agree that they do not work ideally for succulents. Succulents really love dry conditions. A watering globe keeps soil fairly moist, so it may actually be harmful to the succulent’s preferred conditions and cause it to rot.
A Watering Globe Might Work For You
If you’re someone who likes to get away often, a watering globe solution seems like a perfect option. Why not try a watering globe? They’re inexpensive and can definitely pretty up any display of plants – how about some colorful mushroom globes, for example?
And even if you don’t travel very much, they do offer a convenient way to take care of your plants without too much fuss.