A watering jar is a handy and inexpensive tool for watering plants when you’re starting them indoors. The primary alternatives are a mister or a small watering can. But if you’re keeping your starts under a grow light, a mister can’t deliver enough water to replace the water lost due to evaporation. Watering cans will do the job, but a watering jar gives you more control and less mess.
The concept is fairly simple. The watering jar must be kept on a shelf above the plants you want to water. As long as the hose is full of water, lowering one end of the hose below the other end of the hose will cause water to be siphoned from the upper end to the lower end.
Something to keep in mind is that cold water straight from the tap can be shocking to plants. So it’s a good idea to refill your watering jar immediately after every watering so the water can come up to room temperature before the next time you water them.
1 large, wide-mouth jar (I like half-gallon jars)
1/4-inch hose (also called dripline or spaghetti line, commonly available at garden supply stores)
rocks, preferably attractive landscaping rocks or even pretty glass marbles (optional)
- Measure a length of hose that will reach from inside the bottom of your jar, out through the top, and down to your plants, with some extra. Cut the hose to that length.
- Insert one end of the hose down to the bottom of the jar. Give it enough length to let it curl around inside the bottom of the jar a bit. It will tend to shift and try to float, which can cause problems for your siphon, so it works best if you give it that extra length so it can be weighted.
- Gently drop in some rocks or beads to weight the hose down in the bottom of the jar. If necessary, use a long-handled spoon or stick to hold the hose down while putting the rocks or marbles in place.
- Fill the jar with cold water.
- Carefully coil the rest of the hose into the water, not letting any of it stick out of the water, so that it can completely fill with water. Alternatively, you can leave the hose out of the water, suck the water through the hose with your mouth, then, pinching the hose so the water can’t flow back through the hose, place the free end of the hose into the water jar. I prefer the first method, because it’s neater than having the hose laying outside of the jar.
When you’re ready to water your plants, reach in and, grabbing the free end of the hose, place a fingertip over the end to keep water from flowing backwards through the hose, or from spilling out before you’re ready for it.
Point the hose at your plants’ soil, remove your finger from the tip of the hose, and water your plants.
When you’re done, place your fingertip back over the free end of the hose, and coil the hose back into the water, making sure to submerge the tip of the hose before taking your finger off of it.
Then top off the jar with fresh, cold water so it can come up to temperature before your next watering.