Review by StudioPlants
Patch Planters are a self-watering innovation for growing greens. Primarily made for the indoors, these planters can also be used outdoors (we’ll get into that in the review).
Patch has a great page outlining (with pictures!) how their planters work, which you can read directly on their official site here.
Size: 12” H x 6” W x 6” D
Material: DuPont Tvek, wood
Patch Planters are mainly made of DuPont Tvek, which is a highly durable material that’s typically used in construction (ex. house wrap). I’ve been told Tvek is inert and doesn’t react to the soil, sun, or water and to recycle it, can be taken to a recycling depot.
You can see me assemble the planter on Instagram here.
USING THE PATCH PLANTERS
Whenever I had friends over, people were always intrigued by my Patch Planters because at first glance, they looks like mysterious paper boxes (as mentioned, they aren’t! They’re 100% waterproof). But conversation starter aside, these are planters encourage a low maintenance growing style. That is, you just have to top the reservoir when you see it needs filling.
Rectangular planters maximize growing space - if you’ve got a sill these would fit on, you’re golden. These are also best used with plants that like consistently moist soil with a shallow root system (read more about plant choices further down).
Because Patch Planters are made from a heavy duty construction plastic, they’re able to weather the outdoors but will typically last for only a few seasons if exposed to the harsh elements. I tested out a couple of these planters on my hot, exposed rooftop that gets full fun and yes! The planters are waterproof and do hold their shape. However, by the end of the season, because these planters are white you may get some staining (3rd photo) and the wooden battens will eventually give way. Minor stains can be wiped away but if left to really cook into the material, become tough to remove.
My advice for is that if you keep these outdoors, they’re best in a sheltered location, such as a condo with an overhead if you want them to last and look the best for longer. For a place with similar harshness as my rooftop, I would recommend keeping these indoors.
Unlike indoors however, outdoors the possible issue of damp soil isn’t huge. In fact the reservoir was a life saver during the hot peak of summer. My mint thrived in these!
But, do the planters flood? Where does the extra water go after a rainfall? These are designed so that there are drainage holes at the sides! I thought this was so clever as it still allowed water collection, but also appropriate drainage to prevent overflow. Sort of like a tub or sink.
CONCERN WITH CONSTANTLY DAMP SOIL
Because the soil is constantly moist, getting fungus gnats is a possibility, particularly if you have them already. If this happens to you, ease off on watering and allow the reservoir to empty out and the top inch of soil to dry out. Here’s my post on fungus gnats.
Also be sure to pair the appropriate plants, avoid any that need drying out (succulents, snake plants, the usual…)
‘SELF-WATERING’ CAN BE OPTIONAL
On a related note, one thing I like to add for all self-watering containers is: this feature is always optional. I have plenty of self-watering pots that I don’t actually keep full, instead the tank acts as a catch for extra water so I don’t need to worry about saucers. It’s a built-in surface protector. If you’re concerned this, or any self-watering container is too moist, feel free to keep your reservoirs empty and top-water as you’re used to with your other pots.
PLANTS FOR PATCH PLANTERS
As Patch mentions, their planters were conceptualized as a product for bringing more food into the home. Coupled with the proper light, you could definitely grow shallow-rooted edibles in here. If you’re going for full-size plants, make sure you aren’t crowding the planter: spacing them out properly (ex. you’ll only need 1 mint plant). My broad list of things I like to grow in Patch Planters are:
Herbs (that like moist soil)
Houseplants (that like moist soil)
Because I have a cat, my favorite thing to grow in the Patch Planters is cat grass! Odin loves grazing on freshly grown greens, so we home-grow them (you can get seeds here, or if you’re lucky at a local bulk store. It’s much cheaper and more available to grow from seed than constantly buying pre-grown cat grass).
For microgreens, my biggest hurdle with growing them is keeping the soil consistently moist, which means frequent watering. The self-watering resevoir in these planters means I only have to refill the tank when it’s low which makes growing microgreens a lot more low maintenance and I don’t bother with a humidity dome. This planter is good for sprouting in general, so if you want to start your herbs from seed, feel free.
For houseplants, I tested this on my Pilea glauca ‘Aquamarine’, which it did an superb job on. Any houseplant that needs consistently moist soil or else it’ll throw a fit (I’m looking at you, ferns), are prime candidates for self-watering planters. ‘Baby's Tears’ (Soleirolia soleirolii) is another plant that works well, and mosses. Even some carnivorous plants - make sure its rain/distilled water in the reservoirs though and not tap.
Patch Planters are a self-assembly product which means their packaging is super compact (think Ikea, where their flat-pack model means easier shipping and cost savings for the customer). This means you get a complex product at a really affordable price, which I think is great. Patch Planters are small space-friendly, low maintenance (great for the busy city-dwellers) and have a nice look to them. I really like to endorse innovation and people passionate about plants (which they clearly are! Their Instagram feed is full of of inspiration), so I yes, would recommend these!