Frequently Asked Questions
How do Plantstraws work? Let me tell you!
I've listed a couple of questions that I've received about how to use plant straws, why to use them and when.
🌱 This is a growing section, so if you're question is not here yet please don't hesitate to use the form below - I'd be happy to help!
How to use Plantstraws?
How to set up?
Q: How to install the straw?! 👀
A: Glad you asked! It's not very complicated, and the easiest way to do it is to simply lift the plant out of its pot to get the wick down into the soil, under the roots. Here's how!
How to use?
- Moisten the entire wick before you begin, this will help ensure water can flow from vase to plant.
- Gently lift out your plant from its pot, and circle the moist wick at the pot's base or around the roots. Nestle your plant back into its pot, aim for the end the metal tube to be at least 3 cm/1 in into the soil.
- Pop the other end of the straw into a container of water and give your plant a thorough watering.
Gradually adjust your current watering routine over a period of 2-3 weeks, especially for delicate plants.
- Did you know that you can control moisture by adjusting the length of cotton wick that goes into the soil? More wick means more moisture, so you can make the straws work for little sprouts or majestic ferns, growth periods or rest periods.
- The straws help keep the soil evenly moist. Use them for plants that thrive under such conditions, like those from rainforest and swamp environments.
- Refill and shift the water in the vase regularly. We recommend changing the water and thoroughly watering your plants with fertilizer once a month.
- Wash, trim, or replace the wick as it wears out over time. Use a nylon thread to guide the new wick through the tube. Shift the wick whenever you notice a change in how your plants are doing, or when you’re repotting.
- The straws are asymmetric to allow for a variety of setups, and you can use either end in your plant.
Can I use them for all my plants?
Q: Could you do this with any type of plant? I have a lot of plants but my job likes to make me work out of town from time to time and ive been trying to think of something i could use to keep them watered while im out of town. Sure friends and family can stop by but it would be nice to not need that.
A: Plants have different needs. With Plant Straws you can put thirsty plants, such as swamp and rainforest natives, on a similar care schedule as your succulents, cacti or Mediterranean plants. I don't recommend Plant Straws for plants that prefer to cycle between dry and moist soil.
How long can I leave my houseplants?
Q: I'll be gone four weeks this summer, can I leave my plant with just a plant straw??? or how long does it last?
A: With a Plant Straw installed - you can indeed leave your plants for quite some time and the bigger your vase/vessel is, the longer you can leave them! In addition to water though, plants need fertilizers and light.
When indoor plants are not getting enough nutrients, they adapt by growing slower, and loose leaves. Consider a slow-release fertilizers if you want to leave for a long time. To reduce germs and bacterial build up, do not add liquid fertilizers to the water in your vase.
Prepare your vacation watering
- At least as long before leaving as you plan on staying away, install the Plant Straw
- Watch the plant over the coming weeks, and adjust the length of the wick if needed
- Remember to swap for a larger vase if it’s emptied faster than anticipated
Best-practice self watering
- Do a test! Set up the plant straw before leaving, track the progress, and leave home knowing confidently how long your plants are fine for 🌱🍹
- Less water will evaporate from the vase if it has a narrow opening, making it last longer
- When using an organic liquid fertilizer: Flush the soil with water until the water starts leaking through the drainage holes. Let it drip off, then give your fertilizer solution of choice. Repeat this on the recommended schedule, typically 1-2 times per month
How to fertilize self-watering plants?
Q: Can I add fertilizer to the water vessel?
A: We do not recommend this, for several reasons. Water soluble fertilizers are (generally) not supposed to be given a little at the time. As they contain live microbiome they shouldn't be exposed to UV light, and adding fertilizer to the water can cause unhealthy germs and bacteria to build up in the vessel.
Instead, to give fertilizer to self watering plants, we recommend that you first flush the plant with water until the water starts leaking through the drainage holes. I.e normal top watering! 🤗 Let it drip off, before giving your fertilizer solution of choice.
Repeat this on the recommended schedule of your fertilizer product, typically 1-2 times per month.
Another option that will keep your plants self supported for longer is a slow-release fertilizer, mixed into the soil of your plant.
What sort of vessel can I use?
Q: Where do you get the glass from?
A: These are my favorite sources when I look for new vases and vessels to combine with plant straws!
- I love using wine bottles that remind me of a nice dinner with friends
- Second hand and thrift stores, there are so many beautiful objects in this world
- Local artisans (working together with a glass artist to create something custom for plant straws is one of my dreams - make it come true?)
- Or... Use the vases I have in most of my photos!
I accidentally pulled the string out of my straw!
Q: I just bought a Plant Straw today! Unfortunately, I accidentally pulled the string out too much and now one end is stuck inside the straw. Do you have any tips or videos on how to get the other end of the string out? Thanks!
A: Hi! To get it back in, you’ll need a fishing line or a flexible needle, and if you don’t have one, I’d be happy to send one over! It's also included with the replacement cords.
We are so thankful you brought the issue to our attention! To prevent this from happening, we’ve begun making knots at each end of the cord before packing Plant Straws!
Plant Straws bought directly from us have knots at the ends! If you got yours from one of our resellers that have had them in stock for a long time, consider making knots on your own as you’re unpacking ☺️)
When is it necessary to change the cord?
Q: Hi there! When is it necessary to change the cord in my Plant Straws?🤗
A: Hi! You don’t have to change it unless you see a change in how your plant is doing, or you’re repotting 😊
Can I install Plantstraws without repotting?
Q:Hi. We want to use our plant straws but didn't realize you need to pull the whole plant out of its pot! Any other way to do this?
A:I understand that you prefer not to repot your plants, and that it can sometimes be difficult to lift them out of their pot. Although it's often simpler to place the rope deep into the soil by removing the plant from its pot, there's another method you might consider.
You could gently push the rope down into the soil from the top, using a stick or a skewer, but be cautious not to disturb the roots too much. Also, ensure the rope is moist throughout the straw before you insert it.
How to adjust your Plantstraws?
My plant is not getting enough water
Q: I've had my Plant Straw installed for about a month now, but I'm afraid my plant is not getting enough water. The leaves are looking crispy... What should I do?
A: Let's address your questions step by step:
Crispy or yellow leaves can be a warning sign that something might be wrong. To troubleshoot, try watering your plant from the top. If it perks up and improves, it means your assumption is correct, and it's not receiving enough water from the Plant Straw.
Here's what you can do to resolve the issue:
- Reinstall the Plant Straw, ensuring that you use a longer length of cord in the soil this time.
- Before reinstalling, make sure the entire cord is moist and squeezed out.
- Water your plant thoroughly after reinstalling the Plant Straw.
- Keep an eye on your setup and repeat these steps if necessary.
It's also important to note that there is a natural limit to how much water the Plant Straw can provide. In some cases, you might want to water your plants with a larger amount of water from the top on a regular basis, such as once a month, and then supplement it with fertilizer. This approach will maintain a natural routine where you check in with your plants, and it aligns with the recommendations of most fertilizer brands. Additionally, using plastic or glazed pots can help retain more moisture than terracotta pots, making them more suitable for thirsty plants.
If top watering doesn't improve the plant's condition, remove the Plant Straw and consider other factors. Has the plant been moved to a sunny spot? Are the seasons changing? Also, check for root rot to ensure the plant is not overwatered.
I've just installed, and my plant looks thirsty
Q: There's water in the vase, but as far as I can tell, the water level does not really get any lower, and my plants are looking thirsty. I just installed the Plant Straw a week ago. What's wrong?
A: It's important to allow some time for the roots to settle and find their way down to the bottom of the pot where the wet rope is. If your plants are sensitive or if the leaves are droopy, water your plants from the top as usual for the first two weeks or so to give the roots ample time to establish themselves. Then, space out the watering routine until you reach the desired schedule, such as once a month, and give the plant some extra water when you shift water in the vase.
Keep in mind that it's normal for the top layer of soil to dry out, similar to any bottom watering method. Additionally, you will most likely find that the amount of water the plants require will be significantly less compared to when you water from the top. So, a smaller vase will last a lot longer than one might expect. Instead of solely relying on the water level, observe the plant itself to determine whether it is receiving enough water or not.
My plant is getting all the water at once
Q: Just after I installed, the vase emptied out in a matter of hours (i noticed it the morning after) What happened? The soil is soggy and water even leaked out on the tray.
A: Your Plant Straw just became a siphon. I'm so sorry! For this to happen, two things needs to be true:
- There is zero air inside the straw. There are usually tiny air pockets in the cotton cord, but in your case they were all filled with water.
- The water level is higher than the end of the straw.
Remove the Plant Straw, and allow the soggy soil to dry up. Squeeze the entire cord before re-installing. It should be moist, but not dripping wet. If you get this part right, you shouldn't have to worry about the water level in comparison to the plant.
After you've installed - Place the set up on a larger tray/non-sensitive surface and make sure it's OK.
Is my plant dead? ☠️
Q: I think my plant is dead, what did I do wrong?
A: I’m sorry about your plant! Learning how to care for plants takes a little time and (unfortunately) a couple of failures for most of us.
House plants need a balance of light, nutrients and water. What the right balance is varies between species, but you can gain a lot of insights from understanding the plants natural habitat. Because yes, our houseplants exist in nature too!
For example, desert plants have different needs than rainforest plants. The first comes from a dry, sunny habitat where the temperature can vary greatly between day and night. The other comes from a humid, often shaded and warm habitat.
Ask yourself how you took care of the plant, and try to figure out how well that matches the needs and habitat of that specific plant to gain insights!
I forgot to moisten the wick before setup, will it work?
Q: oh no i forgot to wet the string before planting, will it work?
A: No, I’m sorry but proooblably not. It will take longer time for the wick to soak up water and lead it over to the other side.