For me, Lazy Flora is about making beautiful seasonal plants accessible to people who might otherwise not have the time to get to a garden centre. Our main business is in selling plants, not on selling the things that go with them. The only reason we stock containers is because it's super annoying if you can't find everything you want on one website, and we want to give our customers a beautifully simple one-stop-shop to a beautiful outdoor space.
So when I decided that Lazy Flora simply had to stock a small selection of containers, I started my search with the containers that I thought would be the most useful and practical for Lazy Flora's customers.
For most people, the most important factor is what a container looks like. I would definitely count myself among those. I know immediately what I like and don't like, and I have a clear idea of what it is I'm looking for. However, when speaking to people about Lazy Flora, I heard people say time and time again that they always forget to water their plants. And who can blame us, when we're all so busy with everyday life that we barely have time to think, there are things that are going to drop off the radar from time to time. Watering plants is sometimes one of them.
I'd heard about self-watering containers, but it all sounded a bit gimmicky to me, so I set out to find the best self-watering container available, and to test it out to see whether it really did work.
The container I settled on was from a company called Lechuza, who design a range of self-watering plant pots and planters. I bought a Balconera 80 to go on my balcony.
If I'm completely honest, I wasn't 100% sold on the design, but I thought it was worth giving the product the benefit of the doubt. If it meant that my plants would survive whilst I was out of town or on holiday for a couple of weeks, perhaps I would be able to put any concerns about the way it looks to one side.
The container arrived in lovely packaging, and was well protected. The assembly instructions booklet looked huge, but that's because the instructions were repeated in about 10 languages.
I was expecting assembly to be more complicated than it was. The Balconera 80 came with two boxes marked 'A' and 'B', which contained gravel and the water level measuring device. These were very easy to click into place, and the water level reader was intuitive. The higher the little red stick floats in the water, the higher the water level in the container's reservoir.
So, having assembled my container, I then proceeded to plant it up with a seasonal selection of plants from my local garden centre.
According to the Balconera instruction leaflet, I needed to water the container regularly for the first three weeks, before then relying on the reservoir. This gives the plants time to establish themselves and for their roots to reach out into the soil of their new home.
For the first three weeks, I was thrilled to see my container garden every day and remembering to water it wasn't a problem. However, the real test came when, shortly afterwards, I was due to be away from home for three weeks. The weather was also forecast to be hot during that time. How would the container fare without any watering at all?
Before I went away, I made sure that the reservoir was filled to the maximum level and that the soil was moist. Then, I took a deep breath and left them to their own devices for the next three weeks...
If I'm completely honest, I wasn't expecting much from the planter. I thought the manufacturer's claims that the water reservoir could keep plants watered for up to three weeks to be an over-exaggeration, and I anticipated coming home to a very wilted and tired-looking plant display.
However, three weeks later, as I arrived back home, I was thrilled and stunned to find that the plants I had left alone and untended for so long were actually in better condition than when I had left them. Take a look at the pictures, the plants speak for themselves.
After that, I was utterly convinced that self-watering containers are the way to go. They aren't the only containers I'll use, but if they can keep my plants looking amazing for three weeks with no other maintenance, that's the kind of effort I appreciate. When you're trying to start a business - even a gardening business - you need to streamline your efforts, and cut out any unnecessary steps. This helps me to do that.
I'm still not completely in love with the appearance of the containers themselves, but once I saw them with the plants in, and the way they look on my balcony, as well as the fact that they perform so well, I'm a convert. I instantly knew that we had to offer this level of convenience to Lazy Flora customers.
Self-watering containers are just one style of container that Lazy Flora will offer. We're currently in discussion with more suppliers to bring you beautiful and stylish containers and over time we will build our offering of different container styles. This is the first of our range.