Bottom Watering Fabric Pots [The Ultimate Guide]

Is bottom watering fabric pots instead of top watering your plants a better way to water?

Is bottom watering fabric pots instead of top watering your plants a better way to water?

Bottom watering works very well if you understand how to do it.

Choose Best Self-Watering Planter F...
Choose Best Self-Watering Planter For You!

Bottom Watering Fabric Pots

Bottom watering fabric pots will allow water to pass through the fabric pot where wicking or capillary action will move it up through the coco coir to the plant’s roots.

What Is Bottom Watering?

For those who are not familiar with the term, bottom watering simply means watering from the bottom up instead of the top down.

This can best be done using self-watering grow bags filled with coco coir.

You will need to grow with your pots in a tray or container for this method to work. 

The benefit of bottom watering is that it allows the roots to absorb water more slowly and evenly, resulting in healthier plants.

If you are interested in trying bottom watering, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • First, make sure that you use grow bags or fabric pots and use coco coir in them.
  • It is a good idea to add a couple of inches of LECA to the bottom of the grow bag before adding the coco coir.
  • Before starting, thoroughly water and let the grow bag or fabric pot soak in a basin or tub for 10-15 minutes.
  • Once the plant has had a chance to absorb water, empty any excess water from the basin.

In order for wicking to work correctly, it is important that the pot starts out thoroughly wet.

Capillary action or wicking will then help keep the moisture level in your pot constant.

Learn more about using capillary action systems for growing plants: https://www.mdpi.com/2311-7524/4/3/23/htm

Bottom Watering With Self Watering Grow Bags

Growing your own plants can be a wonderfully rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging at times.

One issue that many gardeners encounter is ensuring that their plants receive enough water, especially during hot and dry periods.

Fortunately, bottom watering using self-watering fabric pots can help to make this task easier.

These cloth pots work with a reservoir of water at the bottom, which continuously moisturizes the roots of your plants. 

This means you can go on vacation or if you have a busy work week you won’t need to be worrying about your seedlings drying out.

This also means that you can truly enjoy your gardening experience from start to finish.

So if you want more control over your growing process, then opt for self-watering fabric pots.

Bottom Watering Fabric Pots

Watering fabric pots from the bottom, especially when filled with a medium like coco coir works better than top watering in some cases.

Planting in fabric pots and using bottom watering can result in explosive growth for your plants. This is a passive hydroponic system.

Some plants don’t like water on their leaves and bottom watering can solve this problem.

Fabric pots allow more air exposure to the roots and more even wetting and drying of the pot

So for the best results bottom watering use fabric pots instead of plastic pots.

Use a grow medium like coco coir which has superior wicking capabilities compared to soil mixes.

Although it can be done in plastic pots and with other grow media it really doesn’t work as well.

In the photo below you can see tomato plants in a tray. With this system, I simply pour the nutrient solution into the tray.

Bottom Watering Fabric Pots In A Tray

However you cant leave the pots in deep standing water forever.

If you did they might get root rot. So don’t ever leave more than an inch or two in your tray.

So learning when and how long to let the water remain in the tray is important and may take some trial and error to get just right.

How To Automate Bottom Watering

Watering plants from the bottom is not a new or untested way to grow plants.

In fact, hydroponic growers have been doing it for years in flood and drain systems.

They are easy to set up and easy to automate. But they are usually used with an inert media like hydroton.

How To Automate Bottom Watering

They are usually not used with potting mix because the cycles tend to pull the mix into the reservoir. They also tend to stay wet too long.

But with grow bags the coco is contained inside the pot. It wicks moisture well, drains well, and works very well in this type of system.

This ebb and flow cycle of filling and emptying the pot adds fresh oxygen to the root zone.

The disadvantage of these systems is that they take up a lot of space and rely on electricity.

You also will need to adjust the watering frequency and flooding times to avoid oversaturating your pots.

I have used this type of system with fabric pots and coco and it works really well.

AutoPot System Power Free Bottom Feeding

autopot system This watering system uses no power. A float valve automatically controls the watering.

When the water is used up by the plant the valve opens and delivers more.

It comes in 2, 4, and 8 pot units. It is easy to add additional pots too.

This type of system really takes the guesswork out of watering from the bottom.

It can work with fabric pots or regular plastic pots too. You can check out additional AutoPots here on Amazon.

I have seen folks using one valve to control the water level inside a tray. I have not tried this myself. If you are a DIY guy can try it out.

I would probably use a single control valve inside a tray because I prefer to grow in a tray and eliminate all the tubing and connectors.

But I also realize some folks are not handy or just want a complete system.

How do you bottom water plants in fabric pots?

When growing plants in fabric pots, one of the most effective methods for keeping them well hydrated is known as bottom watering.

This technique involves keeping your plants in a tray and flooding the tray with several inches of water, allowing it to be fully absorbed by the plant’s root system before adding more.

You will need to keep your plants in a tray to use this method. Kitty litter boxes work well for this as do plastic storage totes.

There are several factors that make bottom watering a popular choice for gardeners growing in fabric pots.

  • The ability to more accurately control moisture levels
  • The reduced risk of overwatering or underwatering plants
  • It is a relatively simple technique to implement.

If you are looking to try bottom watering in your own garden, there are a few steps that you can take to ensure success.

  • First, make sure that your fabric pot is thoroughly watered at the start.
  • It’s a good idea to add an inch or two of hydroton to your fabric pot before you add your coco.
  • You may need to top water for the first week or two while new seedlings are getting established.
  • Transplants may not need top watering at all.
  • Don’t forget to check your plants on a regular basis to ensure that they aren’t becoming overwatered.

If they are, you may need to reduce the frequency with which you bottom water your plants.

Fertilizing Bottom Watered Plants

When you use coco coir in fabric pots with watering from the bottom you are running a passive hydroponic system.

The plants are constantly being fed a nutrient solution and this is why growth is so rapid in this type of system.

This will require using fewer nutrients than you would use for top watered plants that are only fed every few days at watering time.

So when you mix the nutrients you should not use full-strength nutrients.

Start with about half the recommended amount and see how your plants react. Plant color can be a good basic guide.

Light green plants are underfed and dark green plants may be overfed.

You may even see leaf burn if your plants are being overfed.

Your plants should be a healthy green color if your feeding levels are correct.

If you use coco coir it is important to feed your plants with some extra calmag.

Here is an article where I talk more about feeding coco coir: Growing Vegetables In Coco Coir [ Increase Your Results! ] (indoorvegetablegrower.com)

Overwatering Symptoms And How To Avoid It

When plants are overwatered the roots can’t get enough oxygen. Yes, plant roots need oxygen too.

Overwatered plants often look like they are underwater and generally look unhealthy. They may even look like they are being underfed.

Fortunately, coco coir has the ability to allow good oxygenation even when wet which is why I suggest using it.

Some people even claim it is impossible to overwater coco but don’t believe them.

There Is Some Trial And Error Getting It Right

When you first start bottom watering fabric pots there will be a bit of trial and error getting the watering frequency down.

Also, remember that as plants grow and get larger they will drink more and need to be watered more often.

Coco coir should not be allowed to dry out completely so when the top starts showing a lighter color you should water it again.

I prefer to leave about an inch of water in my trays at all times.

The trick to doing this is to put an inch or two of LECA in the bottom of the pot before you add the coco coir.

That way there is always some drainage and the coco itself is slightly above the waterline. The stones will wick water to the coco coir.

When done right bottom watering is an effective way to keep fabric pot plants evenly watered and healthy.

Can you overwater plants by bottom watering?

Yes, you can overwater plants in a bottom watering system.

The bottom watering technique allows for more precise control of water levels.

This makes it less likely that plants will be exposed to excessive moisture but you can still overwater.

If you leave too much water in your tray when watering it can be a risky method and result in root rot.

Since you don’t have the ability to see how much water is being absorbed by the plant, too much water left in the tray for too long can lead to oversaturation.

If you are concerned about overwatering your plants, it is important to take care when bottom watering.

You can always empty any excess water that remains in the tray after a few minutes.

Additionally, it is a good idea to check the soil of your plant on a regular basis to ensure that it is not becoming oversaturated.

Is watering plants from the bottom better than top watering?

There is no definitive answer to the question of whether watering plants from the bottom or top is better.

Some gardeners believe that bottom watering allows for more precise control over water levels, making it less likely that plants will be exposed to excessive moisture.

However, others argue that there are several factors that make bottom watering an inherently risky method, such as the inability to see how much water is being absorbed by the plant.

If you are concerned about overwatering your plants, it is important to take care when bottom watering.

Go slow. It is much easier to add more water to a tray than to remove it. You will develop a feel for how much water to use over time.

Additionally, it is a good idea to check the soil of your plant on a regular basis to ensure that it is not becoming oversaturated.

If it is, you may need to reduce the frequency with which you bottom water your plants.

Is Bottom Watering Right For You?

Bottom watering can be an effective way to keep plants hydrated and healthy, but it is important to be mindful of the risks and take steps to reduce your chances of overwatering. 

Top watering plants is generally considered to be the more straightforward method, as it allows gardeners to see how much water is being applied and to more easily gauge when plants have had enough.

However, top watering can also be problematic if too much water is applied, as it can cause leaves and stems to become wet and lead to fungal growth or other problems.

Ultimately, the best method for watering your plants will depend on your own preferences and the needs of your plants.

If you are new to gardening and want an easy, low-maintenance approach, top watering may be the best option for you.

But if you are looking for more control over the amount of water that your plants receive, bottom watering may be a better choice.

Regardless of which method you choose, it is important to keep in mind the unique needs of your plants and to water them accordingly.

Is it better to water plants from the bottom or top?

The optimal method for watering plants depends on a number of different factors.

These include the type of plant, its stage of growth and development, container size, type of growing medium used, and environmental conditions like temperature and humidity.

Some gardeners believe that bottom watering can be more effective than top watering for certain types of plants.

It allows for more precise control over water levels and can prevent leaves and stems from becoming wet with excess moisture.

At the same time, top watering is often considered to be the easier and safer method, because gardeners can see how much water is being applied and can tell when their plants have had enough.

However, this approach can also be problematic, as applying too much water can cause leaves and stems to become wet and vulnerable to fungal growth or other problems.

Also, it is still possible to topwater plants too often. No matter how you water you need to know when enough is enough.

So it is still entirely possible to overwater by top watering too often. Overwatering still kills more container plants than anything else.

In the end, whether you choose to water your plants from the bottom or top will depend on your personal preferences, as well as the specific needs of your plants.

If you are new to gardening or looking for an easy, low-maintenance approach, top watering may be the best option for you.

But if you are looking for more control over the amount of water that your plants receive, bottom watering may be a better choice.

Regardless of which method you choose, it is important to keep in mind the unique needs of your plants and to water them accordingly.

Can you over water by bottom watering?

Yes, it is possible to overwater your plants by bottom watering. This can happen if you apply too much water at one time, or if you continue to water your plants even after their soil is already saturated.

It is important to be mindful of water levels and take steps to reduce the risk of overwatering whether watering from the top or the bottom.

Some strategies for preventing this include monitoring soil moisture levels and reducing the frequency with which you bottom water your plants.

Choosing a fabric pot and using coco coir for bottom watering will help reduce the risk of overwatering.

How often should you bottom water?

The frequency with which you bottom water your plants will depend on a number of factors.

This includes the type of plant, its stage of growth, and environmental conditions like temperature and humidity.

Other factors that affect watering times are the type and size of pot used and what growing media it is filled with.

A large flowering tomato will obviously require a lot more water than a leaf lettuce plant for example.

In general, it is best not to wait until the coco coir has dried out before watering again. Coco should be kept moist at all times.

If you are using a peat-based potting mix generally you would let it dry down and then alternate between feeding and watering.

It is important to pay attention to your plants’ changing needs because as they grow they will start using more water.

Does bottom watering last longer?

The length of time that bottom watering lasts will depend on the type and size of your plants, soil conditions, and environmental factors. 

That being said, some research has suggested that bottom watering may last longer than top watering, as it can help reduce evaporation and allow water to better penetrate the soil.

Ultimately, the best way to determine how long bottom watering will last for your plants is to experiment with different watering schedules and monitor soil moisture levels regularly in order to find what works best.

Bottom Watering Fabric Pots Final Thoughts

Bottom watering is a popular and effective method for watering plants, but it is important to be aware of the risks associated with overwatering.

By taking steps to monitor water levels and prevent excessive saturation, you can help ensure that your plants stay healthy and thrive.

Additionally, choosing a fabric pot and grow medium that is well adapted to this method can also be helpful and can help prevent over watering.

Ultimately, the best way to determine how often to bottom water your plants is to experiment with different schedules and monitor soil moisture levels regularly in order to find what works best for your particular plants and growing conditions.