Make these beautiful indoor self-watering planters using glass vases and glass globes from light fixtures. In this post you will learn all about this plant watering system and How to DIY an Indoor DIY Self-watering Planter (Ballard Designs style) for your home.

3 planters with spritzer

I’ve been researching this self-watering planter system looking for a “pretty” way to make them. I kept finding options that were…um…not pretty at all! (hello upside down 2-liter bottle of Pepsi!) For me, the use of plants in my home has always been to enhance my decor! Needless to say the idea of taking plastic soda bottles, cutting them in 1/2, and making self-watering planters did not appeal to me. I kept thinking how can I make a self-watering planter that is actually pleasing to the eye?

large planter with wick in water reservoir

What is a Self-watering Planter?

Before we go any further let’s discuss what a self-watering planter is. The planters put together for this post include a special self-watering wick that is used to draw up water to the soil of a plant. The planter sits on another container that holds a reservoir of water, the wick essentially runs between the two. The wick puts the soil in contact with the water, and self-watering planters work through capillary action or wicking. As the plant roots absorb water the soil wicks up more, maintaining a constant level of moisture in the soil. Pretty cool, huh? This system substantially reduces overwatering and the seemingly pervasive problem of root rot bringing many to the conclusion that they do not have a green thumb. This system is great for…ahem…”over-waterers” it is also a great option for folks who travel a lot.

planter in front of a window

Glass Globes as Planters

Now back to the design. As I set out to find a way to make my own “pretty” self-watering planters my research brought me to glass planters from Ballard Designs. These planters are in a word, beautiful! They are also quite pricey so I knew finding a less expensive option was in order. We don’t often think about glass for planters but these were simply stunning so I knew I wanted to work with glass as the medium. As I considered options I knew I needed a glass container with a large opening (for the plants) and a smaller opening on the bottom (for the watering system). I eventually came up with a great idea to use glass globes (from light fixtures) as they have both a large opening and a smaller one. Lowes carries several types of replacement globes so I started there. I bought 3 different sizes that were different shapes – my plan to transform these light fixture globes into planters was underway.

3 glass globes for this project

Glass Vases for the Water Reservoir

Next, I needed to figure out what to use for the bottom of the planter where the water reservoir would be. I decided to check my storage unit for used glass vases and found 3 that would work. Here are the globes with their corresponding vases before planting.

Supplies for Making this Project

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cutting the coco liner

Tips for Choosing Plants and Where to Buy

Choosing the right indoor plants: For this project, I decided to go with 2 types of ferns and a plant Ficus Pumila (Creeping Fig Plant) that was in a plastic hanging planter. I wanted the glass planters to have a hanging effect so these small trailing delicate vines would accomplish that and the ferns add a nice texture to the assembly of house plants. For a list of plants that are known to do well in self-watering containers please visit this list from Mind Plants. For a mixture of plants, you will want to choose small plants and avoid larger plants unless you plan to separate them.

Where to buy Plants: I bought these plants at Lowes while I was shopping for the lighting globes that way I could estimate how many I would need for this project. Plants typically come in plastic pots and are available at garden centers, grocery stores, and larger home improvement stores.

planters in front of the window  in sunlight

Variations and Special Considerations

Various materials: My research revealed many different materials that could be used to make DIY self-watering planters. You can use PVC pipe cut into sections, or plastic bottles cut in 1/2 (the spout is inverted and holds the wick, and the bottom of the bottle holds the well of water.) You can also sit in a traditional plastic container the plant comes in and works a wick through the drainage holes. Then place the pot on a cup of water or another water-holding vessel.

String options: One article I read indicated that you can use regular cotton string. I decide to go with a self-watering wick that is specially made for this purpose as it is proven to work and was not very expensive.

Herbs: This setup would make a great kitchen herb garden. Most herbs would do well with this watering system as they require a lot of moisture. Picture a windowsill with several self-watering containers holding basil, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro. Beautiful!

Vegetables: My research also brought me to several outdoor vegetable garden setups. Most included tomato plants in a system for 5-gallon buckets. According to Mind Plants list cherry tomato plants do particularly well with this system.

lamp with plants in front of a window

How to Make a Pretty Indoor DIY Self-watering Planter

  • First cut a circle out of the coco liner that is a bit larger than the small opening of the lighting globe. With scissors cut a small hole in the middle of the coco liner circle. Feed the wick through the hole leaving approx 6″ hanging below and 6″ on the top. Tie a knot right above the hole in the coco liner piece then fit this piece into the globe. Sit the globe on the bottom of the planter. (vase)
  • Soak the moss in water and take sections of the moss and line the globe. The moss is more decorative than seeing the soil through the glass.
  • Add some potting mix to the bottom just above the coco liner circle and water for moist soil.
  • Remove each plant from its plastic pot and plant in the globe. Be sure to work the wick up in and around the plant roots so they get enough water.
  • Fill the vase with a good amount of water and place the planted globe in the opening with the wick hanging and touching the water.

Note: Step-by-step instructions are included below.

close up of two of the planters of this project

Caring for Your Self-watering Planters

Sunlight: Plants love the sun! Place your planters where it receives sunlight each day but not near a drafty window. My planters have been enjoying the afternoon sun that streams into my office.

Water level: Adjust the water level in the base container as needed. Keep in mind the soil surface may feel dry to the touch however the soil around the roots will be moist.

Wick adjustments: You can unravel the bottom of the wick for more water. For less, you can simply tie a knot in the wick as this is said to slow down the uptake of the water.

close up of a planter with wick showing in the vase with water

Frequently Asked Questions

Do self-watering planters cause root rot?

Some plants like orchids and succulents prefer a drier soil. These types of plants could potentially get root rot in a self-watering planter. It’s best to choose plants that like moist soil.

What plants are good for self-watering planters?

African violets, ferns, Philodendron/Pothos and many moisture-loving herbs and vegetables do well in this self-watering system.

Do I add rocks to the bottom of a self-watering planter?

It is not necessary to add rocks to the bottom of the water reservoir vase or glass globe when using this system.

Do I need a green thumb to care for a self-watering planter?

This system is intended to make plant care a breeze. Plant lovers who struggle to keep indoor plants alive often “over-care” for them by giving them an excess of water. Too much water and your plants are doomed! This system lets the plant decide how much water it needs taking the guesswork out of – to water plants or not.

planter in front of a window
5 from 3 votes

How to DIY an Indoor DIY Self-watering Planter (Ballard Designs style) Step-by-step instructions

This pretty glass planter was inspired from Ballard Designs Canopy Self-watering Planters. It features a lighting globe and glass vase with a self-watering wicking system.
Prep Time10 mins
Active Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins


  • 1 Hand shovel
  • 1 Pair of scissors
  • 1 Container of water
  • 1 Watering can of water


  • 3 piece Glass globes (with opening on the bottom)
  • 3 piece Vases to hold the glass globes
  • 1 Pkg Self watering capillary wick cord
  • 2 pkg Green moss
  • 1 bag Potting soil
  • 1 piece Cocoa liner
  • 3-4 pots Assorted plants


  • Fill a container (or sink) with water and soak the moss.
    soaking moss in container of water
  • Gather your supplies for setting up the wicking system. This includes the glass globe, the wick and a coco liner.
    glass globe, cocoa liner and wick.
  • Using scissors cut a circle from the coco liner. This circle should be a bit bigger than the opening of the small hole in the glass globe.
    cutting coco liner
  • Fold the circle in half and with scissors cut a small hole in the center for the wick to feed through. Feed the wick through the hole leaving approximately 6" above the coco circle and 6" below.
    feeding the wick through the hole
  • Tie a knot in the wick right above the hole. This will help keep the potting soil from falling through. Place the coco circle/wick on the bottom (small hole) of the globe planter. The knot should be in the planter, the bottom of the wick hanging through the small hole of the globe. (this part will sit in the water reservoir)
    side view of coco liner in container
  • Coil the wick in the center of the globe to prepare for the moss.
    curl wick in center of globe
  • Take small sections of the wet moss and squeeze the extra water from them. Place the moss around the inside of the globe building up the sides until you reach the top. The moss is more decorative than seeing the soil through the glass.
    pressing the moss to the sides of the glass globe.
  • While applying the moss leave the center open for the plantings.
    moss goes up the sides of the globe
  • Place a small amount (approx 1 cup) of potting soil to the bottom of the globe. Keep the wick from getting buried. Add water to moisten the dry potting soil.
    ready to plant
  • Take the first plant and remove it from the plastic pot it came in. Place the plant in the globe pressing to one side so you can fit another plant in next to it.
    placing the first plant in the globe
  • Continue until all plants are planted.
    Note: you may need to shake some of the excess soil form the plants to fit it in the globe.
    pressing the plant into the globe
  • Fill the base with fresh water and place the globe with the wick hanging in the glass. The wick should come in contact with the water, the planter should sit at the top.
    large planter with wick in water reservoir
  • You're done! Place the plant where it can get plenty of sunlight and periodically check the level of the water reservoir. Add more water as needed.
    3 self watering planters near a window sill.

Thank you for stopping by to read How to DIY an Indoor DIY Self-watering Planter (Ballard Designs style). You know I’m always up for a DIY project and this self-watering system is a great way to have beautiful lush plants that can essentially take care of themselves! For more planter ideas please visit my grapevine wreath topiary and my lightening bug succulent project!

Keep creating friends!

my signature, a drawing of me holding a coffee cup.

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