Most homes these days are graced by lovely houseplants, which enhance the interior décor as well as providing better air quality. Finding places inside the home which provide proper light, adequate air circulation, and accessibility are only some of the challenges the gardening homeowner faces. What happens when the plant caretaker must be away for a period of time? What about caring for outdoor container plants while one is away?
Some Creative Ways to Solve the Problem of Watering
Various solutions have been devised to deal with watering houseplants when the homeowner is absent. These have included placing all the plants into a bathtub with a few inches of water in the bottom, using wicks that extend from the plant pot to a container of water, and more recently, glass “globes” that are filled with water and turned upside down into the planter. These solutions are either short-term answers or – in worst cases – failures.
Review of Lechusa® Windowsill Planter
Jo Hunt, a representative of Delyon-Hunt Associates on behalf of Lechusa®, provided a Windowsill planter for review following the Garden Writers Association vendors’ exhibition in Raleigh, NC. The Brandstaetter Group’s Lechuza Sub-Irrigation System® is one of the newest players on the block in the quest to make a houseplant’s care both simple and more efficient. “Combining European styling with German engineering,” said Jo Hunt, “the containers are built of ABS and polypropylene plastic” which will resist fading from sun exposure and provide long-lasting durability.
Designed in a range of sizes, colors and for both indoor and outdoor container planting, the Lechuza planter creates a reservoir for water below the level of the environment of soil and plant. The sub-irrigation system is available for all the planters in the Lechuza line, and can be purchased as a complete set. The integrated water reservoir enables the plant to receive all necessary nutrients through the water uptake, when added by the homeowner during the first several weeks of regular watering. Once roots have grown to a length that reaches the water in the reservoir, further watering is unnecessary for 2-12 weeks depending on the size of the planter.
Conventional potting soil may be used for planting, or growers may use the alternative medium provided by Lechuza, which consists of a mixture of pumice, zeolites, lava and a slow-release fertilizer. A layer of this substrate is added to the planter liner between the reservoir level and the potting soil (or is used alone) which enables water to drain effectively to the reservoir. While a small amount is provided with the planter set, LECHUZA-PON® can be purchased separately.
Some models of planters, including the Windowsill planter, are designed for the plantings to go directly into the planter above the reservoir, while the columnar styles have a matching liner to hold the potting soil. The tested model holds four 4” herb plants, for example, without crowding. It is 6” deep and 16 inches long.
A water level indicator accompanies each sub-irrigation system, which gives the grower precise information regarding watering needs once the plant roots have reached the water moisture level. This may take up to 12 weeks for the largest plants and planters.
Is the Lechusa System a Practical Solution?
The Lechusa system is not inexpensive. On the one hand, their prices range from $25 to $120, depending on size and whether or not a complete irrigation system is bought as a set or if items are purchased “a la carte” so to speak. On the other hand, the product is of high quality (the parent company is the manufacturer of Playmobil® toys) and does provide a long-term mechanism to keep houseplants and outdoor container plants watered for a considerable length of time. The amount of time prior to this “water-free” period, however, is also lengthy – up to 12 weeks before the plants can be left on their own. Attractive and durable, the planters do offer a practical but not cheap solution