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These growmediums are suitable for your elho self-watering insert!

Blogpost written by Rosalien from @Greeny_Lab

You have probably seen the elho self-watering insert on my instagram page quite often, because I’m very satisfied with it. The insert is perfect for people without green thumbs (or like me, have a lot of plants) and could use a little help! The self-watering insert gives your plant the right amount of water at the right time. But which growmediums are suitable for your insert? I’m happy to help you further in this blogpost!


I have done pretty much research and tested which soil types fit best in the elho self-watering insert.
I now know that potting soil, pon or leca balls work best.

Potting soil

I prefer to work with old-fashioned potting soil myself. This has always resulted in beautiful healthy plants. Of course you can also use a mixed potting soil, for example with perlite (volcanic puffed rock that provides extra drainage) in it. A simple method, but success is guaranteed. All plants are suitable for a self-watering insert. However, I do recommend to repot your plant into a self-watering insert when you have to repot anyways, for example if your plant needs a larger pot size. This way you will not disturb your plant unnecessarily. Always choose at least one pot size bigger than the current one. Repotting to an insert is simple: You fill the bottom with a layer of potting soil and place the plant in the insert. From now on you only have to fill the insert when the indicator is in the minus!

Mineral plant substrate

Mineral plant substrate is also known as ‘’pon’’. There are many brands who sell this plant substrate with its own brand name. Pon is a nice substitute for potting soil. It consists of a mix of rubble, lava and/or clay stone. This varies by brand. Pon acts like a buffer: It absorbs water a nutrients and releases this when your plant needs it. In other words, the pon sucks up the water from the self-watering insert and releases it as soon as your plant is thirsty. I both have good and bad experiences with pon. Root rot is a common problem when you transfer your plants to pon. If you follow the tips underneath, you’ll reduce the risk of root rot:

1. Clean the pon before use to remove the dust.

2. Carefully remove your plant from its current pot and remove excess soil. You don’t need to remove all the soil!.

3. Water your plants approximately the first 10 weeks as you normally do. Do not immediately pour water in the reservoir of the self-watering insert, but directly on the pon.

After about 10 weeks, your plant is "used" to pon and you can use the elho self-watering insert as intended. Pour the water into the reservoir until the indicator is at max. Then you only have to refill the water when the watermeter hits min! I recommend that you let the "pon" dry once in a while during the winter period.

Leca balls

Leca balls (or hydro granules) are probably the best known and most common soil variant in this list. They are often used as a drainage layer at the bottom of the pot, as they absorb water. Not only from the potting soil, but also from the roots of your plant. This reduces the risk of “overwatering” your plant. You can also use hydro grains without potting soil, we call this semi hydro. This has the same effect as a plant substrate. Are you using a cutting? Then skip the first 3 steps:

1. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and remove all soil.

2. Rinse the roots thoroughly, but be carefully under the watertap.

3. If necessary, use a soft (tooth) brush to remove the last remains of soil from the roots.

4. Check the roots and cut off any bad parts. Let the roots dry for several hours.

5. Fill the elho self-water insert with a layer of grains and place the plant in the pot.

6. Carefully fill the rest of the pot with the washed hydro grains.

7. Fill the self-watering insert till the water meter reaches max.


I am very curious which substrate you like best! I mainly choose potting soil in combination with the insert, because this is the easiest! If you could use extra help with repotting, there is a how-to tutorial for each substrate on my feed. For questions about the insert itself, I would like to refer you to the elho team!

Who is Rosalien?

Hi, my name is Rosalien! Most people know me as Roos. I am 22 years old and I live with my 2 cats Friendo & Poezel and about 150 houseplants near Eindhoven. In my blog posts for elho I will tell you more about everything in the field of (taking care of) houseplants! My passion for indoor plants started about two years ago and my plant collection has gotten a bit out of hand now. I now have a lot of knowledge about indoor plants and I put this into practice every day. I spend most of the day taking care of my plants and making the right soil mix or plant nutrition. I already share this knowledge on my instagram @Greeny_Lab, but now also with you for elho!