Introduction: Minimalist Self Watering Plant Container for Less Than $5

About: Pinterest engineer by day, maker by night. Member of the Noisebridge hackerspace.

This is a minimalist version of the Dearthbox self watering plant container instructable:

Instead of having to get plastic baskets to hold the wick, the wick is its own basket.


Two plastic buckets

11'x10' piece of cloth



Sewing needle + thread


Step 1: Gather Materials

I bought my buckets at Daiso for $1.50 each, and the fabric at Fabric Outlet in San Francisco for $3 per yard (it was 25% off!).

I got my dremel on Amazon:

I'm using the sewing machine at my local maker space, but you can also hand sew this project.

Cotton vs Synthetic fabric

The wicking seems to work best with pure cotton, however beware that if you use cotton you will have to change the wick once a year because it degrades. A cotton synthetic mix probably also works great. You can tell if a fabric is cotton or synthetic by burning it with a lighter. If it burns it's cotton, if it melts it's synthetic, and if it does both, it's a mix.

For fun you can take two glasses, fill one with water, and put a strip of your fabric between them to act as a wick. The empty glass will fill up with half the water from the wick.

Step 2: Cut a Hole in the Bucket

The photos show us cutting out a square hole, but I've since improved the design to be a rounded square hole. A template is included here in case you want to use the exact same shape. My square ring is 3.5 inches on each side.

You want to cut out a ring from the bottom of the bucket. Cut the middle shape before the outside shape. The plastic from the middle of the ring will be discarded. The ring itself will hold the wicking basket, and the hole left in the bucket will support the ring.

Step 3: Sew the Wicking Basket

Cut your fabric to be about 11'x10'. Fold it in half so that the 11' side is halved. Sew the bottom together. Sew two inches up the side. This gives you a basket shape!

Put the bottom of the basket through the middle of the ring, and hang the rest of the fabric outside.

Step 4: Plant Your Plants

When you are planting your plants, make sure that your soil goes all the way down into the basket! We are growing Thai hot peppers. :)

Put your second bucket (without the hole in the bottom), below your first bucket. The second bucket is what holds the water reservoir. You can tell if your plant needs to be watered if your top bucket feels lighter than normal. You may also want to put spacers on the side of the bucket with the wick attached so that it sits up higher on the water reservoir. I've used plastic forks as spacers.