Self Watering Bulbs: The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on March 9, 2024

Self watering bulbs are an effective and visually pleasing way to water your plants. 

Are you going on vacation and don’t have anyone to care for your houseplants for a week or two?

Do you often forget to water your indoor plants?

Are you having trouble figuring out how much water to give your potted plants?

If any of these apply to you, there’s an easy solution – self watering bulbs!

You can buy a pack of 6 stylish glass bulbs for watering plants for a very reasonable price on Amazon.

*This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products I have recommended, I may receive a commission at no cost to you.

What are self watering bulbs?

Self-watering bulbs, also known as plant watering globes, aqua globes (orbs), drip irrigation stakes or watering spikes, are automatic devices for supplying your potted plants with the moisture they need to keep them alive and thriving.

The upper part of the device is globe-shaped (sometimes shaped like an animal, bird or vegetable) and serves as a container that holds water. The lower part, often called the neck or spike, is inserted into the soil to supply water to the plant’s roots.

Watering globes are versatile and can be used  indoors and outdoors for a variety of plants including houseplants, patio plants, and hanging baskets. I just need to note that self-watering orbs are not compatible with tiny plant pots since inserting a glove full of water in the soil will tip little pots over.

How to use self watering bulbs

Step-by-step guide to using a plant watering globe:

  1. Fill the globe with water from a tap or pitcher.
  2. Invert the globe and insert the long thin spike (neck) into the soil.
  3. Monitor the water level in the globe. When the globe becomes empty, refill it with water.
decorative watering bulb for plants: how to use

Mushroom- shaped watering spikes from Amazon. (4-pack)

How does a self watering globe work?

Self-watering bulbs allow your plant to absorb the water from the globe as needed.

The process works by allowing oxygen to enter the spike as the soil becomes dry, triggering the release of just the right amount of water for your plant.

What are self watering bulbs made of?

 Self-watering globes are usually made of  glass, plastic or terracotta.


This is the most common material used for self-watering globes. Glass can be colored or clear. Clear or light colored glass allows you to see the water level in the glass ball. Glass orbs look pretty in planting pots. 

Keep in mind that glass is breakable, so maybe it’s not the best choice for you if you have small children around.


Some self-watering globes are made from plastic, which is lightweight and less fragile than glass.

Plastic can be PVC or polypropylene. It’s better to get automatic watering bulbs made of polypropylene if you are planning to use them with edibles: potted herbs or vegetables. 


Terracotta watering globes are an excellent addition to your gardening toolkit due to several benefits.

Terracotta is a better choice than plastic or glass-made automatic watering balls as it provides a more even moisture and nutrient (if you add it to the water) distribution to your plants reducing the risk of over-watering, and allowing for healthier root growth.

Additionally, terracotta is a natural material that is safe for both plants and the environment. 

Also, terracotta balls are usually top filled which can make them easier to use in comparison with glass or plastic self watering bulbs.

terracotta self watering globes

Terracotta plant watering globes offered by Amazon. (4-pack)

Self-watering globes sizes

Self-watering bulbs come in various sizes. Some are large and can hold approximately 1 1/2 cups of water, while others are small and can hold about 1/2 cup of water.

How many days do watering globes last?

Wonder  how often you fill watering globes?

The duration for which the water lasts can vary depending on many factors, such as the type of soil in the pot, size of the globe, and type of plant, but in general, watering globes can last for 5 days – 2 weeks before refilling them with water.

Do watering bulbs work for all plants?

If you wonder if self-watering globes are suitable for all plants, the answer is – no.

To figure out if a watering globe is right for your plant, consider the type of environment it prefers.

Plants that thrive in tropical climates or damp areas and prefer soil that is moist but not soggy, such as African violets or Boston fern, will do well with a watering globe. 

Related reading: 10 houseplants that grow fast

On the other hand, plants that came from deserts and semi-deserts, like succulents (including cacti), will not benefit from the use of a watering globe. 

Also, If you know that your plant grows best if the soil is allowed to dry out between waterings (for example, Amaryllis, pothos, snake plant, ponytail palm, yucca plant), do not use a self watering globe with this type of plant.

plastic self watering bulbs

Plastic automatic self watering bulbs offered by Amazon. (10-pack, 2 sizes)

Self watering bulbs benefits

  • keep your plants automatically supplied with needed moisture for prolonged time (up to 2 weeks depending on plants water needs)
  • refillable and reusable
  • easy to use and maintain
  • save time and effort
  • can prevent overwatering
  • no need to keep track of the watering schedule
  • look quite decorative especially when made of colored glass, 
  • bring a splash of color to the pot with houseplants that don’t bloom
  • make a perfect fun gift for plant lovers and people that enjoy gardening
  • make stylish garden accent

Aqua globes drawbacks

  • not a “set and forget” solution for your plants watering needs
  • are not suitable for all types of plants (do not use them with succulents, including cacti)
  • glass made bulbs can be fragile and potentially breakable
  • the neck of the aqua globe can get clogged with soil and stop delivering water to your plant

Best watering globes 

Let’s take a look at top self watering bulbs made of different materials and in different styles.

Best glass bulbs for watering plants

glass watering bulbs for plants medium size

Glass water globes for plants -medium size (8.5″ L x 2.7″) offered by Amazon.

Best plastic bulbs for plant watering

Clear plastic aqua globes, small size (5″ L x 2″) offered by Amazon.

Best terracotta self-watering bulbs

terracotta self watering bulbs

Terracotta automatic plant watering balls offered by Amazon.

Best decorative aqua globes

Need to bring a splash of color to your tropical foliage houseplants? 

Or looking for a thoughtful gift for your plant loving friend?

Then take a look at these unique aqua bulbs for watering plants. They are so pretty

Clear glass bird-shaped automatic plant waterers not only allow you to monitor the water levels, but also serve as a visual reminder to refill. These elegant plant accessories not only keep your indoor and outdoor plants hydrated, but also enhance the beauty of your garden.

sel watering bulbs made of terracotta

The charming design of the frog self-watering spikes adds a touch of fun to your indoor jungle or outdoor garden while providing essential hydration to your plants. Adorable frogs enhance the natural beauty of your greenery and bring a smile to both you and your plants.

Check out related: Gift ideas for gardeners

Handy tips on using watering globes

Before inserting a self-watering globe into soil, make a hole in the soil with a pencil, inexpensive pen, or dowel. This can prevent clogging of the watering globe.

It is also recommended to have moist soil in the plant pot before using your globe, so water your plant before inserting the globe into the soil, especially if you are leaving home for vacation.

If the soil gets into the neck of the watering globe, simply shake the dirt out and reinsert the globe in the pot. If you cannot shake it out, use a thin wooden skewer to loosen the soil in the tube of watering globe.

How to maintain a self watering bulb

You can clean your watering bulbs with a simple cleaning solution made with baking soda and lemon juice (or vinegar) to prevent mold from growing. Don’t forget to rinse the globe thoroughly after cleaning.

Do plant self watering bulbs work?

Have you been wondering about how well plant watering globes work?

Well, I’ve used them and I can tell you that they work great – as long as you use them with the right type of plant. It’s important to make sure the globe fits the needs of your plant, so your indoor jungle or patio garden can grow healthy and strong.

Are self-watering globes worth it?

Self watering globes can be a good investment, especially if you’re someone who tends to forget watering plants or goes on vacation frequently. These globes allow your plants to stay hydrated even if you’re not around to water them.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all plants are suitable for this type of watering system, so be sure to choose the right type of plant before using a self watering globe.

Related reading:

Suggested reading about products that make watering your garden and yard a breeze!

 Final thoughts on watering globes

In conclusion, self-watering bulbs provide a convenient and effective solution for those who struggle with watering their plants. Whether you have a busy schedule, going on a short trip or vacation for a week or two, often forget to water your indoor jungle, or have trouble figuring out the right amount of water to give to your houseplants, these automatic plant waterers are an excellent choice. 

In addition, self watering globes will not only keep your plants hydrated, but also promote healthy root growth. 

So, if you want to keep your plants thriving without the hassle, consider using self-watering bulbs.

glass bulbs for watering plants

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Self-watering Bulbs

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