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My family often travels abroad for the summer and leaves me in charge of their houseplants. Needless to say, after three or more months away they often come back to find more than a few casualties. Cactus — they’re usually good. But anything else, not so much.

Then I found this cheap-ass drip irrigation kit at Harbor Freight. The concept is simple: you leave a faucet on with the kit attached, and this maintains enough pressure in the kit’s hose to force water out drip nozzles attached to the pots of your favorite houseplants. It slowly waters your plants without over watering.

The kit includes a water pressure regulator that allows you to control how fast or how slow the water drips. The nice thing about this system is that you can customize it to your configuration: each drip nozzle is good for a regular potted house plant, but if you have a very large plant that has a wider root structure, you may want to use two or three nozzles for that one.

The kit includes ten nozzles plus 100’ of neoprene hose and various bits of hardware to attach it all together.

And it sells for a whopping $10.  Hell, it’s worth a Hamilton just for the tinker factor. There are similar kits out there, but they are usually more expensive — and include fewer nozzles.

One Stop Gardens Drip Irrigation Kit [Harbor Freight]
Street Pricing for Similar Products [Google Products]


8 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: A Houseplant Watering System

  1. Toolaremia says:

    I have many Harbor Freight products around my house, and can’t go there without blowing at least $50 every time.

    However, you are unlikely to find me using anything from HF that involves unattended pressurized water anywhere inside my house…

  2. Zathrus says:

    We bought one of these kits on Amazon — the instructions in the box stunk, but the ones _on_ the box worked just fine (go figure).

    As best I can tell none of the HF kits come with a timer — if you need a timer, then buy a kit from Amazon or the like; the timers I found locally + HF kit were far more expensive than the kit I bought.

    That said, it’s worked well for watering our tomatoes and peppers (in large pots on our deck) from an outdoor water spigot. And if I need more tubing, drippers, etc. then I’ll definitely be going the HF route. It appears to be the exact same manufacturer as the RainDrip system I bought.

  3. Zach says:

    I love the idea, but I’m not too sure that this is something I would want to go too cheap on – a failure could be incredibly costly…

  4. John Laur says:

    Seems like this is better suited for outdoor use not indoors while you go away for a long time…. You’d at least want a failsafe that will shut the water off if the flow rate gets too high…

  5. Brau says:

    I have tried numerous brands of low flow drippers and *most* suck! The exception has been the RainDrip line, but ONLY their misters and low flow sprayers. The result is that after two years of trying all the different types of sprayers, misters, sprinklers, drippers, and bubblers, I FINALLY have a system that works very well. Unless you have a lot of time to fart around, don’t waste your time and money.

    Oh. One more thing. I would NEVER use one indoors. They are very cheaply made and therefore very prone to failures.

  6. Adam says:

    I have tried a couple of these from HF but could not get them to work. Every time I connected one to the hose bib, the water would flow out of the holes in the reducer. Granted this meant that any plant material right under the faucet got plenty of water, but the plants near the hoses got nothing.

  7. Janet says:

    I purchased this system today from HF, but when I took it out of the plastic I was overwhelmed with the smell from the hose. I am deeply concerned about putting this in my organic vegetable garden. What is the risk of chemical contamination from this kit?

  8. Chris says:

    @Janet: Sounds like it’s standard PVC tubing. The smell is typical of PVC products, which do emit a great deal of gas for the first few days after they’re unpackaged (shower curtains are the worst!).

    If you’re dealing with it outside, I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but if you’re going to use it indoors, I’d let the tubing sit outside for a couple of days first so that most of the offgassing takes place where you won’t have to deal with it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PVC has a pretty good set of references and articles if you’re interested in doing some further reading. I haven’t seen any studies about the ability of plants to take up the various compounds that you’re potentially dealing with here, but I also don’t think any of them would be present in sufficient quantity to be a problem in the food you’re growing.


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