(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

Randy Sarafan is the Technology Editor at Instructables, so you know when he tackles a problem like keeping tabs on properly watering house plants, he's going to do it in enviable DIY fashion. Randy teamed his DIY skills with a soil sensor and an Arduino-controlled water pump to build himself a black thumb-proof plant watering system!

Instead of remembering to water my plants when the soil goes dry, I only have to remember to once and a while refill the water reservoir. In this way, I have decreased my obligation to these plants and put it off to a much later date. Perhaps further iterations of this device can be connected to a rain barrel so that I won't even have to worry about refilling my reservoir, and the entire system can be fully automated.

Materials required:

  • (x1) 8" x 6" x 3" project enclosure (Radioshack #270-1809)
  • (x1) Multipurpose PC Board (Radioshack #276-150)
  • (x1) 5VDC SPDT micro relay (Radioshack #275-240)
  • (x1) 9V battery connector (Radioshack #270-324)
  • (x1) 9V battery holder (Radioshack #270-326)
  • (x1) 9V battery (Radioshack #23-853)
  • (x1) SPST micromini toggle switch (Radioshack #275-624)
  • (x1) 10K resistor (Radioshack #271-1126)
  • (x1) Size M coaxial DC power plug (Radioshack #274-1569)
  • (x1) Red and black 22AWG wire (Radioshack #278-1221)
  • (x1) 12AWG black wire (Radioshack #278-556)
  • (x1) Non-submersible electric water pump (via Amazon)
  • (x1) Water storage container with lid
  • (x2) 8-32 x 2.5" nuts and bolts
  • (x8) 4-40 x 1" nuts and bolts
  • (x1) 4-40 x 3/8" nut and bolt
  • (x4) 1/4" spacers
  • (x1) Wire nut
  • (x2) 3' - 5' plastic tubing
  • (x1) #8 Terminal Ring
  • (x1) House plant to water

Full step-by-step instructions available at Self-Watering Plant Instructables.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

A commenter notes the less technical could get nearly the same self-watering effect without the power source hazards using a piece of nylon wire:

Take a plant bowl and thread a couple of nylon wires through the bottom holes. Let the nylon threads go down into a bowl of water under the plant bowl. The plant will automatically suck up the water from the nylon thread... no electronics needed. :)

So there, you've got two options before you head out for a late summer vacation. Just be sure you have someone to check on the cats/dogs/fish now...unless you've one of these.