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This lovely pot uses an ancient technique to keep houseplants alive

The design relies on just the natural material properties of terra cotta and a 2,000-year-old irrigation method.

This lovely pot uses an ancient technique to keep houseplants alive
[Source Photo: courtesy MoMA]

People are really into houseplants these days, but not everyone has a green thumb, so they resort to self-watering planters. Convenient as they might be, the pots are usually terribly unattractive. No one wants to see a beautiful fiddle leaf fig in one of these.

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[Photo: courtesy MoMA]
Now, the MoMA Design Store is selling a self-watering pot that’s as lovely as it is useful: Composed of a simple terra cotta pot that sits inside a water-filled glass cylinder, the pot keeps the plant’s dirt damp as water seeps naturally through the terra cotta–taking advantage of the natural properties of the clay material.

[Photo: courtesy MoMA]
This works through a phenomenon called capillary attraction, where water is able to make its way through very small spaces. It’s an irrigation technique that likely originated in China thousands of years ago, where farmers buried clay terra cotta pots filled with water. The water would slowly seep out into the surrounding soil, effectively irrigating the plants around it.

The MoMA pots were originally designed in 2008 by the designer Nils Plöjel and are sold online via the Stockholm-based company Wet Pot Systems–but this is the first time they’ve been available in retail stores in the United States.

The pots are available online and in-store in extra small, small, and medium sizes, which cost $34, $48, and $74 respectively.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is the deputy editor of Fast Company's technology section. Email her at kschwab@fastcompany.com and follow her on Twitter @kschwabable

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