In the wonderful world of self-watering pots and planters, there are a myriad of options available for outdoor vegetable gardeners working with a decent amount of space. But what about urbanites looking for an attractive, modestly sized tabletop vessel in which to house — and not inadvertently kill — a simple houseplant or small indoor herb garden? While I’ve seen a couple of options out there including these Karim Rashid-designed hydroponic lovelies and this cheery model from IKEA, simple, self-hydrating tabletop pots are a relatively rare breed. It’s a shame, really, considering how many apartment-dwelling, absent-minded folks out there, myself included, commit houseplant homicide on a regular basis through poor watering techniques.

Meet the simply named, thoughtfully designed Planter from Pasadena-based Joey Roth, the young, sustainability-minded designer perhaps best known for producing stunning modern teapots and the most covetable portable ceramic speakers known to mankind. This unfussy, unglazed terracotta pot was inspired by olla, an ancient earthenware irrigation tool popular amongst Spanish settlers and Native American tribes in the arid Southwest that conserves water and prevents evaporation.

The method in which Planter nourishes plants is remarkably simple and delightfully low-tech (at least compared to this concept): up to .4 liters of water is poured into a cylindrical inner chamber that comes complete with a lid to prevent evaporation. From there, the water is pulled out as needed through the porous terracotta into a donut-shaped, soil-filled outer chamber that can be filled with up to three herbs or six succulents. The water passes through the permeable earthenware based on the soil’s moisture levels, preventing over-watering and providing natural filtration. Roth tells Cool Hunting: "Olla irrigation involves just the slightest human intervention in natural processes. 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."

Roth’s Planter can be used indoors or out and measures 6-inches tall and 8-inches in diameter, making it perfect for desks, countertops, etc. Having just made its grand debut at Dwell on Design this past weekend, Planter is currently available for pre-order directly through Roth’s website. From the sounds of it, like they’ll start shipping in August. The cost? A reasonable $45. 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

An elegant tabletop pot that does the watering for you
For those who would rather not have their houseplants tweet at them when they need hydration, Joey Roth's self-watering terracotta planter offers a low-tech sol