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Self-Watering Planter by Joey Roth
Ancient Native American irrigation systems inspire a thoroughly modern gardening vessel
by Adele McConnell
on 22 June 2012
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We've all been guilty of neglecting that would-be herb garden on our balcony, or watched regretfully as each passing day slowly withered the petals of an indoor bouquet. When temperatures reach the boiling point and your calendar starts rejecting all new appointments, your potted plants suffer through the drought before shriveling up and succumbing to death by disregard. With the laid-back gardener in mind, designer Joey Roth aims to make small scale green-thumbing easier with his simple, aesthetically pleasing and downright ingenious self-watering planter made from unglazed terra cotta.

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All smooth lines and gentle curves, Roth's planter is a practical piece of artwork inspired by the ancient Olla irrigation techniques of various Native American tribes, relying on surprisingly simple mechanics to nourish your plants automatically while preventing water loss to evaporation and run-off. The designer came up with the idea when sifting through different irrigation methods for his own garden in southern California, where traditional hoses and sprinklers weren't cutting it. "Olla irrigation involves just the slightest human intervention in natural processes," says Roth. "I wanted to bring the elegance of this irrigation method above ground and possibly indoors... to articulate the beauty of everyday materials and rituals using the fewest number of gestures."

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The planter's naturally porous earthenware allows water to seep gently from the central chamber into the outer donut-shaped ring, where you can place soil and up to three herbs or six succulents to grow into a swirling arrangement of plant life. The permeable terracotta inner chamber acts as both a filter and regulator of the water that is pulled by the plant's roots into the outer chamber, a process that prevents over-watering. The simple lid over the inner cylinder blocks the negative effects of evaporation, keeping your water cool and fresh and your plants happy.

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In the age of all things sustainable, Roth's planter couldn't be more apropos, providing us all with an easy way to make our lives just a little more green. The first production run will be complete midway through August, but pre-orders are available on his website at $45 apiece. Later this year, Roth hopes to introduce a second version of his striking Sorapot and add a subwoofer to his Ceramic Speaker , in addition to a brand new EDC bag, coffee tools, and lighting.

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