Irrigating 100+ pots

Does anyone have any advice on how to irrigate over 100 pots? Most are three gallon but some are one gallon or five gallon.

I was thinking about getting everything lined up and have one drip emitter per pot but is that efficient enough? I am using potting mix (5-1-1) and if I were in the ground I would get a lensing effect as the water saturated the ground. Will the same happen in potting mix or will it more or less go straight down?

I hadn’t planned on installing a system this year but a work trip out of town is making me rethink that decision.

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Rather than a drip emitter, use a spot spitter. Gets a larger surface area wet. And they run off the 1/8" spaghetti tubing. There are a bunch of sizes - pick the right size for the pot and you can just water all the pots on a timer.

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Where are you located, and what frequency and quantity of rainfall do you receive?

Down here in the San Diego area I had 1400 fruit trees in 5 and 15 gallon pots on a 1/2 acre for about a decade. I found that (in my climate) standard slow-drip emitters were insufficient for both saturating the pot and watering logistics. Instead I used plastic “spray stakes” that insert into black micro flex tubing. You can buy packs of 100 for about $10. Also I used Sch. 40 3/4" PVC pipe for supply lines instead of 1/2" flex hose because critters would chew the latter on hot summer nights. For controllers I use(d) Rainbird STP-900. My outdoor water pressure was 110 psi and I could put about 100 emitters per 3/4" valve.

Here’s a few parts from those days:


Thanks for the info. I’ll look up spray stakes and spot spitters.

I live in middle Tennessee, about 30 miles south of Nashville. We get about 4" of rain a month on average.

Richard and I are talking about the same thing - just different brand names.

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Yeah from pictures they seem to be the same. Thanks.

I use micro sprinklers to water a small container nursery of 3 and 1 gallon pots. The Netafilm supernet model on a 4 foot steel stake cost a little more than $5. It will water an area about 10 feet in diameter. About 6 GPH per sprinkler at around 20 PSI. Use the same poly hose and fittings as drip and can be mixed with drip emitters on the same zone

Another vote for Spot Spitters Best thing ever for flexibility and simplicity

I often thought of using various watering systems, good info, thanks,. I have about 150 containers, I now water by hand. I actually don’t mind, as often one plant needs water and another does not. So I would rather do it by hand. When I leave I make my daughter come over and water.

Do the controllers have ways to prevent irrigation on rainy days?

Easier solution would be to use tubing with built in emitters. I use it in my garden with emitters every 6 inches. Its 1/4 inch tubing and is good for about 30’ with my water pressure. Yours may vary. This may not work as well as spray emitters but would be easier to set up.

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Some do have that feature.

I was looking into this as well for all the figs, poms and toms in containers on my driveway and the spot-spitters sound great. But do they have any of the pressure compensating features of drip irrigation or anyway to make it a bit more foolproof to make sure each one on the line is actually putting out the amount of water they’re rated for? It seemed like with the compensating drippers, I could just add as many as I need on the line as long as I didn’t exceed the total the system could handle and they would all put out something close to their rated amount.

Also, is it recommended to make a loop to equalize the pressure with the spot-spitters or is it okay to just run them off a single line coming from the timer/tap?

Thanks for any insight.

I’m sure richard will chime in with wise words, but the voices in my head tell me that as long as you are not on the side of a hill, you’ll be fine without pressure compensation. Running a loop is usually a good idea for irrigation systems.

It’s not, NOT an issue, but it really depends more on how you feed the system and how much is coming off individual legs.

I’m not super effective, and I don’t measure carefully, but I’m super happy with the cobbled together coverage I’ve got. To me, it seems the main bit is just generally running the thicker tubing in the general layout, and don’t run too much off each leg of smaller vinyl tubing. With my system, I need to have a flow inhibitor to keep the pressure from getting too great, and the only place pressure is too low is when everything is going full blast, the very farthest drip emitters have too many off the same 1/4 vinyl tubing and get a little weak.

I don’t think you likely need a loop, unless you have really low pressure, but you may need to tinker and pay attention to how much is linked together.

One more question regarding capacity. I’ve learned that if I use 1/2 poly for distribution I get about 200 GPH, which doesn’t get me enough pots covered if I use higher output spot-spitters. I know I can go to 3/4 inch poly and get a lot more flow, but since I’ve got 2 areas of containers I want to cover, I was thinking of putting in a regular garden hose y valve after the pressure reducer (they recommend 25psi) then go to a 1/2 poly loop from each of the outputs on the Y. It seems like that should give me a total of 200GPH per loop, for a total of 400GPH. Does it work that way, or am I missing something?

Hmmm… now I’m thinking I should use the tubing with drip emitters built in for my raised beds. It would be nice to save time watering, plus I expect a well put together system will be a lot more consistent than I am with the hose.

Are all spot spitters created equal or is there a prefered brand?

The only brand I’ve seen is Primerus/Roberts/John Deere. All the same product, just a series of buyouts and name changes.

I’m thinking that micro sprinklers would best fit my needs? I am looking to irrigate my tall spindle orchard which the tree spacings are 3 feet. I am going to use inverted sprinklers so nothing is on the ground.

Also, if anyone can tell me how large are the roots on a mature b9 rootstock? Cannot find info on it.

When you set up a small irrigation system, do you set up the emitters in series or parallel? I tried a setup with 4 branches and 8-10 emitters in each I only got pressure to a handful of emitters, and not even evenly in each branch. Do I need to loop the tubing back around to the hose end? Try to set emitters in parallel only?