It’s frustrating to return from holiday to find that the weather seems to have been better at home than where you were – so much so that your plants have keeled over from sunstroke and lack of water.
Plantpal offers a range of products which automatically water your plants while you’re away (or perhaps just doing something more interesting).
The Plantpal Watering Globe is essentially a coloured glass or plastic water containing ball, which sits on top of a ‘spike’ with a capillary wick at its tip. The spike is pushed into the soil and the wick senses how dry the surrounding compost is and releases water as necessary to maintain a constant moisture content. The Globe should keep the plant suitably watered for ‘up to’ 2 weeks.
The Globes tested were the large (380ml), plastic variety, suitable for 15cm to 23cm pots according to the Plantpal overview – though stated as for use in 18cm to 25cm on the actual instructions.
The instructions are pretty straightforward – dip the capillary tip in water for 5 seconds, fill the Globe with water, screw in the spike and push into the soil.
There are a few practical points for potential customers to consider before purchasing:
- Although not mentioned on the advertising sheet, the instructions state ‘Indoor use only’.
- The Globes are not suitable for use near a heat source. Heat can cause pressure to build up forcing water to be expelled too quickly.
- The Globes are not suitable for use in direct sunlight as it encourages the growth of algae. (Most windows get some direct sunlight during long summer days).
- Not suitable for plants which like dry soil – such as Cacti.
- The spike can easily be pushed into soft, loose compost, but for compacted or root dense soil, a (125mm/5inch) hole needs to be made (eg with a screwdriver) to put the spike into to avoid damaging the tip.
I potted on three houseplants into 19, 22 and 24 cm pots, adding Globes, following the instructions. The Globes can look oddly obtrusive on smaller pots are quite heavy when full. My 19cm initially toppled over and had to be refilled.
Unfortunately, the Globe in the largest pot emptied inside the first hour. Undaunted, I reused that Globe in an 18cm root-bound pot, creating a hole with a screwdriver.
The 19cm pot exhausted the Globe by the end of day 3, however without further watering, the sub-surface compost was still acceptably moist after 14 days.
The 22 cm pot, which contained two less established plants used water more steadily and the Globe was still about 10% full after 14 days.
The replacement 18cm pot, which was much more shaded used no more than 10% of the contents of the Globe in 14 days.
These results demonstrate that many factors affect the rate of water use, however, in all cases where the water wasn’t immediately released, all of the plants were quite happy after a fortnight of Plantpal care.