Water Your Plants Just Four Times Per Year

While it’s true that some plants thrive on neglect, many of them do just fine with a few ounces of water once a week, as long as the light level is right. But even that is plenty to remember and actually do in our unprecedented times, so why bother trying? [Martin] has solved this problem for us, having given every aspect of automatic plant care a lot of thought. The result of his efforts is Flaura, a self-watering open-source plant pot, and a YouTube channel to go with it.

The 3D-printed pot can easily be scaled up or down to suit the size of the plant, and contains a water reservoir that holds about 0.7 L of water at the default size. Just pour it in through the little spout, and you’re good for about three months, depending on the plant, the light it’s in, and how much current water it draws. You can track the dryness level in the companion app.

Whenever the capacitive soil moisture sensor hidden in the bottom of the dirt detects drought conditions, it sends a signal through the Wemos LOLIN32 and a MOSFET to a small pump, which sends up water from the reservoir.

The soil is watered uniformly by a small hose riddled with dozens of tiny holes that create little low-pressure water jets. This is definitely our favorite part of the project — not just because it’s cool looking, but also because a lot of these types of builds tend to release the water in the same spot all the time, which is. . . not how we water our plants. Be sure to check out the project overview video after the break.

No printer? No problem — you could always use an old Keurig machine to water a single plant, as long as the pump is still good.

Thanks for the tip, [Keith]!

20 thoughts on “Water Your Plants Just Four Times Per Year

  1. It would be nice to have an appless version, imagine having an entire greenhouse full of these. Some sort of base station, that lets you map a specific pot to a physical location on a drawing of your setup, so you can have a heatmap of watering conditions would be pretty useful, maybe a way to join pots together so they share water storage and can be plumbed into a waterbutt.
    Perhaps a couple of rgb status lights, current soil moisture level and stored water level, that come on for a second every minute or so, better yet an eink graph of water level over time and things like average watering frequency and time remaining until depletion of stored water. It would also be nice if this thing was solar powered, rather than having to plug it in to charge it or swap batteries. There are so many possibilities with projects like this. Adding ambient light, temperature, humidity, air pressure, would all be fairly interesting to map over time too.

    1. https://hackaday.io/project/178004-soil-moisture-monitoring-in-a-flower-garden

      It doesn’t do the watering, but it shows you where the water is.

      It logs data for sunlight, temperature, soil moisture, and soil conductivity (as a proxy for nutrients.)

      The (commercial) sensors run for way over a year on a 2032 coin cell.

      The ESP32 nodes collecting the data are solar powered. They report to a program running on a Raspberry Pi. The Pi is powered through a normal adapter from an outlet – but the house has nearly 10kW of solar panels providing power to the house and a backup battery.

      There’s a program to view the conditions over time for each sensor as well as an animated heatmap view to show moisture (or any other parameter) of the area over time.

  2. Plant watering often is one of the oldest projects in the manuals of electronic construction sets, if memory serves. Originally, no ICs were required for this. Not even a 555. 🙂

    On the other hand, none of the old manuals said if the applied voltage would annoy the plant, either. Would be interesting to attach a scope and see how it affects the mood of the plant (stress levels etc).

    1. I really wonder if, environnmentally speaking, putting this much electronics in a pot is worth it, considering it has very few features but enough processing power to run Doom. This is a typical example of modern-IoT-digital-smart overkill

    2. This project is the definition of IoT overkill : It has very few features but has enough processing power to run Doom. That reminds me of my highschool engineering projects.

      1. I agree that it’s processing overkill, but processing power is so cheap these days. Moreover, the ESP32 is not unobtainium (unlike ATmega and STM32)
        If you don’t like the IoT part, you could use LEDs to signal the status, but that won’t make this hardware any cheaper.

        1. You can buy a better version of this idea already.

          It just uses capillary action to draw water up to the soil. No electronics at all. You control the watering level by how much wick you bury in the soil.

      2. Hm. Maybe the ESP32/ES8266 in this project could additionally act as a datalogger, also. So we could later make a chart of the times the plant needed watering. Maybe add a temperature sensor, too, so we have a correlation between humidity and temperature of the plant/soil and its “thirstyness”. 🙂

  3. Imagine: you have 10 pots in your bedroom (because why not) and in the middle of the night 4 of them decide to water themselves, then at about 4 AM, 5 AM the rest of the pots have IoT feeling it is too dry. And of course each time the water pump wakes you up the app happily rings a notification that your plants are wet now. Not to mention posts on the discord/FB that wake your friends in the middle of the night. Or maybe it is intelligent system and it knows that you are asleep by reading the status of the sleep in your smartwatch account.

    1. Or you use your phone’s scheduled do not disturb feature? Sure not *every* phone has it, but android at least has had it for a while and if they didn’t copy it from apple then I’m sure apple copied it from them relatively quickly. Also I don’t remember hearing him talk about discord/FB integration, though I could be wrong there?

  4. I have a friend who just go out of the hospital and needed to have a drug infused in his body. The hospital gave him a disposable system (Non-Electronic Infusion Pump Portable) with a pouch containing said drug with a non electric, spring-based mechanical pump inside which pushed the liquid through a tube where a reducer (controlling the rate of the flow) was placed before the final part of the tube (the needle entering the veins). Now the really interesting part was that this system could work even if the pouch was below the needle (ie. against the gravity). The flow was constant, regardless of the position of the pouch, and the pumping mechanism was totally silent.

    This is really cool and I’m seeing many applications in gardening where one can imagine a supply of water below the ground (to keep water fresh) that is being distributed slowly (drop-b-drop) to plants. One would just need to occasionally top up the water, and rewind the spring sometimes, to keep the pumping force going (not unlike a mechanical watch). I think this idea would make for a good low-tech project. If you’re interested into this project I’d love to share more details about this.

  5. “But even that is plenty to remember and actually do in our unprecedented times, so why bother trying?”

    That’s certainly a contender for the most colossally stupid and disgusting thing I’ve read this week.

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