The Origins of the Automatic Orchid Watering System

About Me

I am a second-year student at the University of King’s College London. I have always been passionate about changing the world for the better. Being the student head of team for the Ardingly Solar Car project has taught me that what may seem impossible can become a reality if you set your mind to it.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve been a big fan of plants and orchids, and the most common problem has always been the unique watering techniques used to keep the orchids healthy. While constantly travelling and just being generally busy, watering the orchids properly was time-consuming and at times downright impossible. And so, to make it easier for everyone to preserve their orchids, I set out to develop a system that would automatically water the orchids. Click HERE to read the most common mistakes people make and how the systems eliminate them.

Conception

What soon followed was the first prototype – an orchid watering system made out of plastic containers at hand. Further revisions were made, and at the end, I arrived at a system that would submerge the orchids in water for a set amount of time, at a set interval of days. The numbers I came at through trial and error were submerging for 2 minutes, every 7 days. The system had to be constantly plugged in but maintained a battery reserve of several days in cases of a power cut. It would also report every cycle to a telegram bot and display information on the tiny built-in screen.
The concept proved itself when I had to leave the orchid for 6 months. Due to COVID and the inability to travel, the plant had to be left with nothing but itself and some plastic containers filled with water. The water had almost wholly evaporated when I got back due to the built-in failsafe mechanisms allowing for greater than necessary airflow. Still, the orchid itself was alive and well! An impossible result in any circumstance of it being left alone without care for such a prolonged period.

The Look

Now that I knew first-hand that everything worked as it should, there was only one problem – the system’s look. Frankly speaking, it was an eyesore. While it didn’t bother me, some members of the house (cough, mum, cough) weren’t happy and wanted something presentable at home.
prototype self watering orchid system
orchids in nature

3D Print Away

This is where my other hobby – 3D printing came into play. I decided to combine the concept of a self-watering orchid system and 3D printing, arriving at a product very similar to the final thing, at least when writing this. A water reservoir at the bottom, with the orchid potholder at the top. The same concept of the original, but looking more presentable, and truth be told, working better all around. Granted, the very first iteration of the 3D the print had its issues, such as severe leaking, cracking, looking a bit scrappy, etc. But through numerous iterations and experimenting with different materials, they were slowly dealt with over the coming months. Arriving at aversion of this design made from fully recyclable PET material. There was still one issue – cables. The system was required to be permanently plugged in. Which made it limiting in the sense of only being possible to place near plug sockets, and honestly, cables were an extra eyesore.

 

3d printed orchid watering system
small automatic orchid watering system

New Cordless World

I set out to make the self-watering system wireless. Due to the number of features piled in, with WiFi connectivity, remote control, and status reporting, the battery consumption was too much for the system to last any significant amount of time. So an extensive redesign followed. Features were cut down to the bare minimum, with everything operating independently without any external inputs or reports. Later, some changes were made to allow input; and the system to provide feedback via sound, but the bare bones remained the same. With only two lithium-ion batteries, the system was capable of lasting over 2 years, changing the water every 5-7 months for good measure.
Currently settling on 3 different sizes, differentiating by the volume of water 3.1, 2.8, and 1.65 litres, and the size of orchid pots that fit inside. Following the latest redesign, the system now runs off a single 9V battery that’s included with the system.

three automatic orchid watering systems

The Future

The self-watering orchid system keeps evolving to this day, with different shapes, sizes, and features constantly being experimented on. Going forward, the most significant focus will be on sustainability and making the systems even more environmentally friendly for the upcoming future. Right now, the systems are fully recyclable and are great at reducing waste by reusing water and making the orchids last years instead of constantly buying new ones. However, the plan is to improve by using recycled materials to make the self-watering systems and using green energy to power the production. Following that, the next step will be to partner with some industry leaders to directly control where these recycled plastics come from and make a big push for extracting the plastics out of the oceans and recycling those.

Learn More or Order Now

Return back to the home page to learn more about how the automatic orchid watering systems work, or order now!

diamond orchid watering system automatic self