The soil on container plants easily dries out, which means they need constant attention. Both overwatering and underwatering will harm a plant, so ways to keep the soil moisture even will improve the health of the plant. Aqua Globes, sold through infomercials and in big box stores, claim to help to keep the soil moist and reduce the time spent watering. Aqua Globes won't replace watering completely, but can make growing container plants more manageable, both inside and outside.
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How Aqua Globes Work
An Aqua Globe is a glass bulb with a narrow stem you push into the soil of a container plant to let water to drain out slowly. Dry soil is porous, which allows the flow of air through the soil. When the soil at the mouth of an Aqua Globe begins to dry out, air will flow through the soil and up the aqua globe's stem, displacing water. When the displaced water wets the soil, the pores close again and the air flow stops. This process slowly wets the soil just as it dries out, keeping the soil damp but not overly wet.
How to Use Aqua Globes
Fill the Aqua Globe two-thirds full with water. Use your finger to make a small hole at an angle in the soil. Put the stem of the Aqua Globe into the hole you made, pushing it deep enough so the globe will be stable. The hole you make minimizes the amount of soil that gets stuck inside the Aqua Globe's stem. The globe will drain at different rates depending on how much water the plant uses, whether the container is inside or outdoors, and the type of soil. When the globe is empty, clean the soil out of the stem with a toothpick and refill with water.
Plants Still Need Watering
Aqua Globes reduce the amount of time you need to spend watering container plants, but you'll still need to water and care for the plants. Salts from fertilizers or your tap water can build up in the soil and eventually harm the plant's roots. Watering the plant until water drips out of the container's drainage holes will leach these salts and help keep the plant healthy. Aqua Globes do not leach the soil, but normal watering between refills of the Aqua Globe will help keep salts from building up.
Aqua Globe Precautions
An Aqua Globe full of water can easily put a container plant off balance, so pay attention when you first start using the globes. Using less water in the Aqua Globe, increasing the angle the globe is pushed into the soil, or using a second Aqua Globe to balance the weight help make the plant more stable. The stems of Aqua Globe are thin glass and they're easy to chip or break if you don't handle the globe carefully.
Joshua Bush has been writing from Charlottesville, Va., since 2006, specializing in science and culture. He has authored several articles in peer-reviewed science journals in the field of tissue engineering. Bush holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University.