sub-irrigated planter system

What is a Sub-Irrigated Planter System (SIPS)?

Last Updated on March 10, 2023 by hgspaces

sub-irrigated planter
Sub-Irrigated Planter

A sub-irrigated planter system (SIPS) is a unique method of container gardening that is gaining popularity among gardeners worldwide. It is a self-watering system that uses a wicking process to provide water to plants from below. The SIPS consists of a reservoir at the bottom of the planter, a layer of soil above the reservoir, and a wick that draws water from the reservoir into the soil, providing a consistent supply of moisture to the plant’s roots.

Sub-Irrigated Planter System Design

The design of the SIPS is simple but effective. The reservoir, which is typically made of sturdy plastic material, is filled with water. A layer of soil is added above the reservoir, and a wick made of a porous material such as felt, cloth, or a cotton rope is inserted into the soil, with one end in the reservoir and the other end in contact with the soil. When the plant is placed into the planter, its roots grow into the soil and take up water from the wick through capillary action.

Consistent Source of Moisture

One of the benefits of using a SIPS is that it provides a consistent source of moisture to the plant’s roots, which is crucial for healthy growth. Traditional planters rely on the gardener to water the plants manually, which can result in inconsistent watering and over or under-watering. With a SIPS, the plant’s roots take up water as needed, ensuring that they receive a steady supply of moisture without the risk of over or under-watering.

Another advantage of SIPS is that they are more efficient in their use of water than traditional planters. The reservoir at the bottom of the planter holds a significant amount of water, which means that the plant’s roots have access to water for a longer period before the need for a refill. Additionally, the wicking process is highly efficient, ensuring that almost all of the water in the reservoir is used by the plant.

SIPS is also beneficial for plants in hot and dry climates or during periods of drought. The self-watering system ensures that plants receive water consistently, reducing the risk of dehydration and stress. In some cases, SIPS can also reduce the need for daily watering, which can be particularly helpful during times when water is scarce or restricted.

Grow a Wide Variety of Plants

SIPS can be used to grow a wide variety of plants, including vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Because the system provides a consistent source of moisture, plants grown in SIPS tend to be healthier and more productive than those grown in traditional planters. This is particularly true for vegetables and herbs, which require a lot of water to thrive.

Low Maintenance

One of the most significant advantages of SIPS is that they are straightforward to set up and maintain. The basic design of the system is easy to understand and can be adapted to suit a range of planter sizes and shapes. Additionally, SIPS requires less maintenance than traditional planters, as there is no need to water the plants manually or worry about water draining out of the planter.

Environmentally Friendly

SIPS is also environmentally friendly. The efficient use of water reduces wastage, making it an ideal choice for gardeners who are conscious of their water usage. Additionally, the use of SIPS can reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, as the consistent supply of moisture and nutrients promotes healthy plant growth and reduces the risk of pests and diseases.


In conclusion, sub-irrigated planter systems (SIPS) are a simple and effective way of growing plants in containers. The self-watering system provides a consistent source of moisture to the plant’s roots, promoting healthy growth and reducing the risk of over or under-watering. SIPS is more efficient in its use of water, making them an ideal choice for gardeners in hot and dry climates or during periods of drought. Additionally, SIPS is easy to set up and maintain.

At Heritage Growing Spaces, a greenhouse building contractor, we highly recommend the use of self-watering sub-irrigated planters in your new dream greenhouse. For all the positive reasons above. The SIPS in combination with three-foot-tall raised beds makes for a convenient and comfortable way to garden year-round. Whether you are an experienced gardener or a novice, the low maintenance of the SIPS is a great option to choose. For more information contact us.