When you’ve got your indoor grow room setup, watering your plants can quickly become the most labor-intensive part of your garden. If watering seems to take too much time out of your day, there’s always the option of automated watering. Setting up an automatic watering system is simpler than you think. You can get pre-made systems, or make your own from parts.
Parts of an Automatic Watering System
Every automatic watering system has some basic parts.
- Reservoir: A reservoir holds the water that’s going to go to your plants. It should be big enough to hold water for at least a couple days, or you’re not really saving that much effort. A 15-gallon drum is usually a good size for a smaller grow, while a large grow might benefit from a constantly-fed reservoir.
- Pump: Your pump is what pushes water from the reservoir to the plants. There are a lot of water pumps on the market, but many are overkill for cannabis grow. Your pump just needs to get water from the reservoir to the plants, after all. Typically, a good amount of pressure is 60 GPH per plant. On average, each pump can provide adequate water for ten plants before the water distribution starts to suffer. If you have more than ten plants, you’re going to need a second pump.
- Pump lines: These tubes bring water from the pump to the cannabis. You’ll need one mainline and then a distribution line for every plant. The mainline can be simple black poly tubing. Distribution options should slowly release water in multiple places, instead of releasing it all in one spot. That erodes the soil and can damage roots. Drip emitters and hydro halos are good options.
- Valves and Connectors: To get your pump lines connected to each other, you’re going to need some valves and plumbing joints. There should be a valve for each plant, and every distribution line needs a connector to continue the mainline. Ball valves work great.
- Timer: A timer helps you make the watering automatic. Most timers work by controlling when electricity makes it to your pump. More advanced timers allow you to set multiple events a day, which allows you to water your plants more than once every 24 hours.
- Drainage: Your cannabis plants should always have good drainage in order to prevent disease. When you plant them in vegetative stage pots, include a few inches of gravel or even Styrofoam at the bottom of the pot. Make sure there are holes in the bottom of the pot, too. This keeps your plants from getting oversaturated and suffering from root rot.
How to Set Up an Automatic Watering System
Place your reservoir somewhere easily accessible and drill a hole in the side for tubing Ideally, this hole will be equal in height to the top of your plant pots. Feed the mainline through this hole. Place the pump in the reservoir – read the rules for your pump, so you know whether or not it can be fully immersed.
Step 1. Run the mainline to your plants. At the location you want the first distribution line, cut the mainline cleanly and horizontally.
Step 2. Attach a three-point connector here, continue the mainline from that point, and attach the distribution line to the remaining point. For every distribution line, do the same thing.
Step 3. Place a valve on each distribution line, so you can adjust the flow of water.
Step 4. Plugin the pump to the time, and then to the wall.
Step 5. Program the timer to run for just long enough that you see runoff from every plant. Lastly, adjust as necessary to get even water flow.
Automated watering can save you tons of time if you’re working with a garden of a substantial size. Remember, it’s all about working smarter, not harder. Happy growing!