Watering globes are a useful tool to provide your potted plants with water while you are away on vacation. Alternatively, they can be used all the time, to reduce the frequency that you have to manually water your plants. But before you set up a watering globe you really want to know how long it is going to last.
How Long Do Watering Globes Last? Watering globes normally last for between 7 to 14 days, depending on the size of the globe, the size of the opening, the soil they are placed in and the plant they are intended to water. There are a number of variants of watering globe, which influence the length of time that they will water your plants.
Do Watering Globes Really Work?
Yes, watering globes do really work, although to look at them, you could be forgiven for wondering how. Watering globes, aqua globes or watering spikes, as some people call them, are blown glass globes with long thin necks.
The water in the globe is slowly released into the soil, providing a steady supply of water for your plants over time. They are quick and easy to set up and are ideal for indoor potted plants which would easily dry out if they go unwatered for more than a few days.
Whilst there are many options for controlled watering of your potted plants, watering globes are one of the cheapest and simplest to use. I have used them with great success for trips of up to three weeks, and have always returned to living plants, although they aren’t always perfect.
How Does A Watering Globe Work?
A watering globe works by providing a slow and steady supply of water to your plants. It limits the ability of water to leave the globe using a small opening for the water to escape.
To use a watering globe, you fill the globe up with water and then invert in, carefully pushing the long thin neck of the globe into the soil. At first, a small amount of water will escape out of the neck of the globe, but then two processes will limit the rate at which the globe empties.
Firstly, the physical presence of soil at the entrance to the opening will limit the rate at which water is able to leave the watering globe.
Secondly, the water leaving the globe will prevent air from entering the neck of the globe. If no air is able to get in to to displace the water, the water will be unable to leave as a weak vacuum is formed.
Once the soil around the neck of the globe dries out, air will be able to enter the globe and displace a small amount of the water, until equilibrium is restored.
This process will limit the rate that the globe empties. Whilst the rate of emptying will depend on a lot of factors, including the type of soil in the pot, the water requirements of the plant and the ambient temperature, you can reasonably expect a watering globe to last for 1-2 weeks if used correctly.
Although I have gone on trips of up to 3 weeks while relying on a watering globe for my indoor potted plants, I do this knowing that the water is likely to run out after about two weeks. However, from experience, I know my plants can go for about a week without water and still be in reasonable shape on my return.
What Is An Aqua Globe?
An aqua globe is another name for a watering globe. There are multiple different manufacturers, and there is some variation in the naming of them.
There are also a number of different variants which use the same idea as a watering globe to water your plants.
Some products use the typical glass globe with a long thin neck.
Others are detachable spikes with a screw on reservoir. These can make it easier to refill the water when it is empty.
Other variants simply provide a spike and screw attachment for you to use your own plastic or glass bottle as a reservoir. While these aren’t as nice to look at, if you’re just after functionality, they work well and give you a bit more flexibility to choose the size of the reservoir that you use.
What Are The Advantages Of Watering Globes?
It’s not hard to see the advantages of watering globes. They are inexpensive and look really attractive. I’ve had plenty of people comment on my watering globes. Some people are baffled about what they are and how they work and some people just think they look really well.
Using a watering globe is really easy and quick, so if you’re going on vacation, it is a job that you can do quickly and easily and won’t be a major chore.
You don’t have to move your potted plants from their normal position to use a watering globe. You don’t need to attach the watering globe to an external water supply and there is no electronics or complicated controls. They simply use physics to release water to your plants slowly over time.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Watering Globes?
There are a few negative things about watering globes that you should be aware of. I don’t think any of these makes watering globes a bad option, but it will depend on your individual needs and preferences.
The rate that a watering globe delivers its water is variable, and you may not be able to completely control this. I’ve heard of people having an empty globe after 2 days! Mine last anywhere from 1-2 weeks usually, but this is still quite a large variation, and could make the difference between living and dead plants on your return from your trip.
There are a few tricks to getting them to work reliably, so as long as you set them up right, they shouldn’t empty in less than a week. It would be a good idea to try one a few times while you are not on vacation, to get a good idea whether it is going to last sufficiently long.
My best tip if you are finding your watering globe empty after a few days, is to water your plant thoroughly before inserting the watering globe into the soil. This seems to prevent problems with the globes emptying quicker than they should.
Another drawback is that they are delicate. They are made of blown glass, and the neck is long, thin and fragile. It wouldn’t take much to crack or smash one, so care needs to be taken when filling them and placing them into the soil.
The other issue I have had is that the opening in the neck of the watering globes can be quite variable in size and the ones with very narrow openings can be a bit tricky and slow to refill.
How To Stop Your Watering Globe Getting Clogged?
One issue I have encountered while using watering globes is when you take them out of the soil to refill them, you sometimes find the opening can be clogged with soil. This is a bit tricky to fix as the opening can be very small. I have previously used a wooden skewer or cotton bud to unclog mine, which normally works well.
The best way to stop your watering globe getting clogged is to make a hole in the soil with a long, thin implement such as a pencil or screwdriver before inserting your watering globe. This prevents soil being forced up into the neck during insertion, and also reduces the risk of breaking the watering globe while inserting it.
What Are The Alternatives To Watering Globes?
There are quite a number of alternatives to supply your plants with water while you are on vacation. These include the following;
- Setting up a wick to jug or bucket of water
- Using a self watering planter
- Putting your plants in a watering tray with capillary matting
- Setting up an electronic watering system.
These all have their pros and cons and the best choice for you will depend on a range of factors.
Overall, I think watering globes are well worth a try. They aren’t perfect, but they are inexpensive and do the job most of the time.