Best Self-Watering Hanging Baskets, Tested & Reviewed


Do you envision hanging baskets, full of gorgeous flowers and foliage for this upcoming season?  Have you tried before, just to have them languish or die outright?  Or, are you tied down to a daily, or twice a day watering schedule as if you took on a new pet?  Maybe your maintenance department logged overtime hours in efforts to keep your business front, or town’s streets lush and beautiful?  Tried the ‘miracle’ of self-watering baskets before, only to be disappointed? 

 Me too!  So I bought and tested for a full growing season 3 different Self-Watering Hanging Baskets to really test which if any, were worth the money.  This is what I found.

The best Self-Watering Hanging Basket I tested is the H2O Labor Saver Hanging Basket.  It is great for Commercial, Municipal & Home use.   Next, best is The Weekender, a great choice for Commercial and Home Use.  I can not recommend the 12” SIP hanging basket.

H2O Labor SaverWeekender12″ SIP Hanging Basket
Typical Time Between WateringsEvery 7 days/ 1X a WeekEvery 2 Days/ 3.5X a WeekEvery Day
Time Between Waterings at Capacity & Hottest Period of the Season2X a week4 – 7X a week14X a Week (2X a Day)
Size Diameter Pot23”16”12”
Reservoir Capacity2.5 Gallons1 Gallon4 cups
Soil Capacity – approximate 2-(16 qt) bags  potting soil16 qt bag of potting soil.8 QT bag of potting soil
Hanger System4-strand Swivel (250 lbs TEST LOAD) or chrome utility chain (400 lbs TEST LOAD)Heavy Duty 3 Strand Swivel or Double Twisted HD Wire HooksRot Resistant Rope With Metal Circular Ring, Plastic Connections

Let’s talk about my experiences with each:

Owner's review - Which Not To Waste Your Money On

First, the H2O Labor Saver.  

The pros of the Water Labor Saver are great design, superior build quality, replacement parts, and fantastic performance.  I was very impressed.

The H2O Labor Saver

  As with most self-watering baskets, I was concerned that the water reservoir would be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  If this a concern to you, put mosquito bits, (click here to get some), or mosquito dunks (click here to grab some) to the reservoir.

This pot arrived swiftly after ordering, even during the days of shipping delays due to the pandemic.  This was a great benefit, one of the self-watering pots that I ordered for this comparison test did not arrive until August, and another not at all, and could not be included in this test. There was no assembly required unless you ordered the optional hanger upgrades.

This basket is not beautiful to look at, just as an empty pot.  It was clearly designed for function rather than looks.

The way the inner soil portion is separated from the water reservoir to prevent waterlogging the soil, is a removable, and replaceable, inner planting container. It is supported by molded-in shelves inside the main basket.  These are very secure, sturdy, and simple.  You would be hard-pressed to insert the plant basket wrong.  Very organic, logical, and simple how it goes together.  No assembly instructions are required!

There is a silicone drain plug to easily drain excess water from the reservoir at the end of the season or if you are trying to take these down for any reason without the substantial weight of a full reservoir.  That plug can be screwed in from above, for use on a deck, or from underneath to use as a hanging basket.  I chose to put the plugin from the top, the inside of the reservoir as I was using them sitting on my deck.  This was easy to screw it and worked well for me.

 Installing the plugs from underneath, as designed, needs to be done after the basket is hanging in its final position, or you risk damaging the plug, or the surface the pots are on until you hang them.  Also, they would sit at a wonky angle, tilted by the plug popping out the bottom until they were hung up.

Replacement parts, are readily available, including silicone plugs, if you do lose yours!

 This plug comes wired to the top of the basket in shipping, conveniently so it does not get overlooked or lost.  The same with the fabric wicks.  Anything you might want extras or replacements for is readily available!

The wicking fabric was substantial and generous, with plenty of lengths to be sure to wick up from the lowest water level. The fabric is also removable and washable.

Overflow spout.

The overflow spout is large enough to prevent even the concern of clogging and allows for a hose end to water directly into the reservoir.  Again, consideration to those folks who will have to maintain these baskets.

The sides of the planter basket, where there are molded openings, easy hand grips to place or remove the inner planter basket.  The molding on these openings makes it comfortable on the hands when used to lift it in or out of the hanging portion of the system.  Also, you can fill the reservoir directly with a hose here too.  

I watered from above, both the plant area and refilled the water reservoir with a hose through the handgrip area.

The inner planting baskets are also available to purchase separately, so that if they get lost or broken, you simply need to replace the much less expensive inner section, instead of getting an entirely new system  This is a brilliant move on the designer’s part.  These were designed and made by folks in an actual working greenhouse.  They know what they want to see, and what they found the most helpful, and put it into practice here! 

 This also makes it easy for municipalities to send the inner baskets to their local nursery, to get refilled each year.  If anything is going to be lost or broken, it might be this section, and the makers made extras easily available.  

Also, if again you are a town, having a second set of liners and the option to plant out the next season’s baskets beforehand, and simply bring them to the location, remove the last season’s liner, and pop in the new season’s liner in that one trip!  Well, it just makes a Park Department manager’s heart glow.

The shape and style of the entire hanging basket system are typical in proportions and shape that is expected from a hanging basket, making these fit in very well with other hanging baskets visually.

4-strand Swivel – 250 lbs TEST LOAD

The upgraded, 4 arm, swivel hanger is very heavy duty and well up to the job of holding the weight of plants, wet soil, and a full water reservoir.  The swivel is handy to adjust where that overflow spout is, to assist in water intake, or to direct water overflow off from your porch, and onto the ground instead. 

You can also easily spin your hanging baskets around without taking them down to allow them to grow evenly, alternating which side is in the sun, and which is towards the house, to promote even growth.

Standard hanging assembly is the link chain shown.

I only needed to refill once a week rather than every or every other day.  A huge bonus! 

The H2O Labor saver is, hands down, the absolute best hanging basket available.  Period.  The only place I found to buy ishttps://www.h2olaborsaver.com

The Weekender:

The Pros of the Weekender are: it is the perfect size for most home applications, superior build quality, great design, replacement parts, and the many colors available.

The only con is that the water only lasts for a weekend.  But without changing the silhouette expected from a hanging basket, I do not see how it could perform any better!  I will definitely purchase more to use personally!

The Weekender is made by and was shipped by the same company as the H2O Labor Saver.  So I had the same speedy delivery as with its larger sibling.  Unlike the Labor saver, the Weekender came in several different colors, and I see in 2021 they have since added more.  You can get in:

Seafoam Green

Sand, Black, Light Brown, Orange, Forest Green, Dark Blue, and Seafoam Green.  I chose seafoam green.  The color was as depicted well in the pictures.  The Weekender is a matte texture and color which very much added to both the look and feel of this basket.  I found it to shrug off dirt and grime and was resistant to scratching.  This basket, besides the plant debris, and hard water markings on the inside, still looked like new on the outside at the end of the season.

The end of the season..still looks great!

The design is the same as the Labor Saver, simply smaller, with the same comments.  There are times that a great design does not translate well into a smaller size.  That is not the case here!  The design reduces to the 16” size beautifully and still functions exceptionally!

The way the inner soil portion is separated from the water reservoir is the same system as the H2O Labor Savor, with a removable, and replaceable, inner planting container. It is supported by molded-in shelves inside the main basket.  These are very secure, sturdy, and simple. 

You would be hard-pressed to insert the plant basket wrong.  Very organic, logical, and simple how it goes together.  No assembly instructions are required!  

The same replacement parts are available, plugs, wicks, and inner planter baskets, to make it easy to use this year, after year, after year! 

The silicone drain plug makes it easy to drain excess water from the reservoir at the end of the season or if you are trying to take these down from their hanger supports for any reason without the substantial weight of a full reservoir. 

That plug can be screwed in from above, for use on a deck, or from underneath to use as a hanging basket.  This comes wired to the top of the basket in shipping, conveniently so it does not get overlooked or lost.

Silicone plug, installed.

I screwed it from the top as it was used sitting on my deck.

The overflow spout is large enough to prevent clogging and allow for a hose water input directly into the reservoir.  I never worried that the overflow might get clogged, ever.

The sides of the planter basket, where there are molded openings to fill the reservoir directly, if desired, also double as easy hand grips to place or remove the planter basket.  The molding on these openings is folded over and rounded which makes it comfortable on the hands when using them to lift, in or out, the inner planter basket.

These molded openings I found also ideal for topping off the water reservoir with a hose. 

The shape and style of the entire hanging basket system are typical in proportions and shape that is expected from a hanging basket, making these fit in very well with other hanging baskets visually.

Heavy Duty swivel hanger

The upgraded, 3 arm, swivel hanger is heavy duty and well up to the job of holding the weight of plants, wet soil, and a full water reservoir.  The swivel is handy to adjust where that overflow spout is, to assist in water intake, or to direct water overflow off from your porch, and onto the ground instead.  You can also easily spin your hanging baskets around without taking them down to allow them to grow evenly, alternating which side is in the sun, and which is towards the house. 

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Another hanger choice is a black coated, dual twisted wire, tangle-free (!), 3 arm hanger with a large hanger hook that will not get bent out of shape over time from the weight of the basket.  This leads to season after season of trouble-free use.  A huge bonus! 

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The connections between the hanger and the pot were molded directly into the pot.  A choice of either hole in the heavy-duty lip of the pot, or molded in raised loops.  A great benefit to having both options is not only will this work with either of the hanger hooks that come with the pot, and with any, you might choose to use.  As well as in the long term, if one does break (after many years of service..these are Heany Duty) there is another choice to use for hanging!  I love it!

I found the name of Weekender was very well suited to this basket, as it does last a whole weekend without needing to water!   When I arrived at the point in the growing season that the plants were at their maturity, and the hottest days had arrived, the reservoir was empty and the soil starting to dry down..but just barely, making going away for the weekend possible without endangering my plants! 

As you can tell from my glowing reviews of both the Labor Savor and the Weekender, I am very impressed with the entirety of the system.  That is rare.  Everything from the delivery, set-up, build quality, design, look, and actual performance.  Spot On!  I give them a very enthusiastic 2 thumbs up and 5 stars!  

Get your Weekender here from Amazon by clicking here!

12” Sub-Irrigated Hanging Basket.  

The Pros to this basket are a beautiful-looking basket, great color, and a sturdy basket build.

The Cons are the lackluster performance as a planter to reduce the frequency of watering and weak points I expect to break in the system with more than a year’s use.

No assembly was required.

This was purchased from a hardware type of website and had no name title beyond 12” Self-Watering Hanging Basket.  It shipped quickly.  I was able to open the box and start planting.   

Overflow spout.

I ordered a bronze color basket, and it was a good choice to accent plant foliage.  The size and proportions of the basket were exactly what you would expect from a 12” hanging basket, you would never know it had a water reservoir except for the overflow spout.  That might tip you off if you saw it when planted.

The sturdiness of the plastic and overall construction was high and well done.  The hanger assembly was adequate for the loads expected on this hanging basket system, but I do see points of failure limiting the years of service.  The first point of failure I might expect would be either the plastic pieces holding the hanging rope and the thinner plastic piece separating the water reservoir from the potting soil.  No replacement parts are available.

The reservoir holds 4 cups of water when full, this simply did not prove to be enough to make a difference when water demands were high.  When the plants were fully grown, and the temperatures are hot, in August,  I needed to soak deeply and fill the water reservoir every day.  I would expect to have to do that with a traditional 12” hanging basket, without the reservoir, sometimes a regular pot needed t 2X a day, but not often.  It just did not hold enough soil/water to last long enough to make as large of a difference for me to pay extra for.  I would save my money, and purchase a traditional hanging basket.  It was a beautiful pot, which I would truly use again, but I would not pay extra for the self-watering feature.

The 12” hanging basket is no longer offered from where I purchased it, and I could not locate one on Amazon, so I do not have a link for you.  I still included it in the review because I am sure there are similar hanging baskets available and the comparison will be useful for you.

Testing Conditions:

This test was conducted in the high desert region of Idaho, in the Sun Valley area.  The elevation was over 5,000 above sea level, so the sun was intense.  The humidity averages about 26% in July, and a breeze was continual.  All three of these make for increased watering demands by plants. 

The temperatures averaged in the upper 80”s during the day and dropped to the low 50’s at night.  The cooler night temperatures reduced the growth rate of the plants, slightly lowering the overall watering needs. 

These baskets were compared head to head, during the same time period, under the same conditions.  They did differ in the plants planted in each, as you would expect from sizes ranging from 22” to 12”, but was a fair comparison for plant volume found in each size pot and serves well to make comparisons to experienced-based typical basket watering needs.

To find the best plants for your conditions every time, click here.

Related Questions:

Do self-watering pots need drainage holes?

Self-watering pots do not need drainage holes, however, there are 2 common types of self-watering planters that solve the problem of overwatering differently.  Both types of self-watering containers have a water reservoir.  

Both types have a method to separate either all or most of the potting soil from the water reservoir.  One type has an overflow spout or hole, usually on the side at the top of the reservoir level.  The other will have an indicator, often floating, to let you know when to add water.  These designs overcome the requirement of drainage holes and allow for the water reservoir. 

Do Hanging Baskets last all year?

Hanging baskets will last as long as the plants in them do in your climate.  If planted with frost-sensitive annuals, they will last only until the plants are killed by a cold frost. You will be better satisfied by replanting your baskets yearly. 

 If you do want your hanging basket to grow back, you can try this; cutting back and overwintering inside or in a cool, but not below freezing area.  Also, you can plant with perennial plants that are a zone hardier than your area, and that area is zone 5 or warmer.    Colder zones and you risk root damage from the cold.  The roots of plants are never as cold-hardy as the tops of those plants.

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