Written by Terry Smith

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Best water gels & water retention ideas

This article was last updated on May 6th, 2020 at 2:45 pm

7 Best Water Gels and Water Retention Products

While some technological advantages designed to make our lives easier, more convenient, etc. have been disastrous for the planet, such as the invention of plastics and our reliance on fossil fuels, there have also been some breakthroughs that actually help our environment repair the damages we’ve caused.
Water shortages are becoming more and more serious, so one thing we should all be doing is trying our best to keep our usage, and wasting, of this valuable resource down to a minimum.

Comparison table: Best water gels & water retention ideas

ProductWhat We ThinkPrice

Gardman 02320 Watergel Tub, Clear, 500 g

  • Reduces watering by up to four times
  • Improves plant health and flower production
  • 500 g tub
  • Releases water to plants and flowers when needed
  • Ideal for baskets and containers

Hozelock Water Retaining Storing Gel Mat - Pack of 4

  • Water Storing gel mat eliminates the need to mix the gel with compost...
  • Saves 90 % of water
  • Allows you to water only once per week
  • Clean and simple
  • Suitable for up to 4 hanging baskets

Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Plant Food Gel 250g

  • Save time and reduce the amount you need to water your plants...
  • Crystals absorb up to 150 times weight in water
  • Works all season, simply mix into compost
  • Ideal for pots, tubs and hanging baskets inside and out
  • Sufficient for 15-20 average size (30 cm) containers or baskets

Hozelock Water Retaining Storing Gel and Feed, 250 ml

  • Water storing gel and feed slowly releases plant food to reduce watering frequency...
  • Helps improve plant growth
  • Lasts a full season

Nature's Footprint 650g Coconut Coir (Pack of 5)

  • 100% natural, renewable replacement for peat moss
  • Compressed bricks are easy to handle and store
  • his disease resistant / pH balanced growing medium provides excellent air space and water holding capacity...
  • Holds between 8 & 10 times its volume in water
  • Each brick yields 0.125 cubic feet of growing medium

Westland Water Saving/Retention Gel, 250 g

  • For use with containers and baskets
  • Capacity to store 4 times its own weight in water
  • Prevents pots and baskets from drying out
  • Water is released throughout the season as plants require it
  • One application lasts a full season

Root!T Rooting Sponges Refill Bag (Pack of 50)

  • Faster, more vigorous rooting and reduced plant shock
  • Superior absorption of nutrients and easily maintains perfect water/air ratio
  • Insulates roots against heat or lack of moisture
  • Contains micronutrients and beneficial microbes to aid germination
  • No mess and no fuss

Water retention gels are a great way to do your bit for the environment and at the same time reduce the frequency in which you have to water your plants.
These ‘hydrogels’ are made from chains of polymers and are able to absorb and retain large amounts of water despite their small their size. They can be placed in the soil and used to release their stored water to your plants when needed.

Here we have put together a list of the best gardening water gels and retention products and reviewed them for you. We have also provided links for you to click on if you would like to know more about any of these products.

1. Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Plant Food Gel

We kick off our watering gel reviews with a best-selling product from Miracle-gro. This product has made a lot of gardeners happy with its ability to be used either indoors or out in the garden, in flower beds, pots, hanging baskets, and tubs.
It is easy to use, only requiring you to mix it in with your compost before ‘potting up’. 
The gel crystals are able to absorb a huge amount of water, up to 150 times their own weight and distributing it to your plants roots when they require it.
 As we mentioned in our introduction, this means that you will have to water the plants less frequently or worry about them drying out in the summer.
This 250 gram bag contains enough watering gel to pot up to around 15-20 medium sized containers when mixed with compost.

  • Gel crystals absorb up to 150 times their own weight in water
  • Can be used indoors our outside all season
  • Perfect for tubs, baskets, pots, and flower beds
  • Bag contains enough gel for 15-20 pots or baskets
  • Reasonable price
Our second watering gel review is a product that has been chosen by Amazon as one of its ‘choices’ meaning it has the right combination of good customer feedback and a low price.
When it comes to the amount of water that can be absorbed, this gel is hard to beat and can store up to 400 times its own weight! That means that a single application of this gel will last you all summer, with minimal watering. You can go away on holiday without worrying about coming home to dead flowers hanging out of you baskets.
Like the Miracle-gro gel it is meant to be used in baskets and containers both in and outdoors. However, one thing this product has over its competitor is that it can be used to help grow fruit and vegetables as it won’t add any toxic chemicals to them.

  • Low price
  • Lots of good customer feedback
  • Can store up to 400 times the gel’s weight
  • Can be used to grow fruit and vegetables
  • One application will last all season
Hozelock is a name synonymous with garden watering products and this offering by them is our third watering gel review.
This is actually a two in one product as it contains the water retention gel plus a plant food that has been designed to be released slowly along with the water from the gel.
 Hozelock boast about the fast acting qualities of their gel and feed and claim that it is 50 times faster than their competitors. I don’t know how you would test to verify that claim, nor would I waste my time doing so, but I will say that the plants I used this gel with did look better after only a few days.
Like our previous reviews, this gel should last you a whole season and will seriously reduce your watering frequency. The slow releasing plant food is designed to last up to a year.

  • Water retaining gel and plant food in one product
  • Fast acting gel will have your plants looking healthier in no time
  • Will last a whole season
  • Can be used to grow fruit and vegetables
  • Plant food will last about 1 year and will feed nutrients to your plants
Yet another well praised watering gel is this one from Gardmen. 
It is priced at 16.99 but that is for a large 500 gram tub. The 500 grams are actually separated into two 250g bags, and you only need one of those to last you all summer so you can put one aside for the following year.
This gel does everything the makers claim it does and you will find that you have to water the plants far less frequently than before. Gardmen claim that it reduces watering by four times and I would say that I’d have to agree with them.
Again, this gel is perfect for baskets, tubs, and pots and other containers and simply needs you to mix it in with your compost and then water your plants as usual.

  • Large 500 gram tub
  • Handily separated into 2 bags so you can save some for the following year
  • Reduces watering frequency substantially
  • Works well with dry soils
  • Perfect for containers and baskets and will last all summer

5. Hozelock Water Retaining Storing Gel Mat – Pack of 4

Water retaining gels are amazing and most do exactly what they claim. However, they still require you to spend time measuring out the amounts needed and mixing them with your compost.
These water storing gel mats from Hozelock have been made so that no mixing is required. It is far less messy and, faster, and convenient. 
You just place them in your baskets or pots along with the compost and they act the same way as the gel granules do, by retaining water and then releasing it slowly for plants to feed on.
This pack gives you enough gel mats for 4 baskets, pots or trays, but you can purchase larger packs by clicking on the link we have provided for you.

  • No messy mixing required
  • Fast and easy to install
  • Works the same way as the watering gel granules
  • Pack of 4
  • Saves up to 90 percent of your water
These root sponges offer an interesting alternative to watering gels. 
They improve the amount of nutrients that are absorbed by the roots and also help increase water retention and reduce transplant losses.For pure water retention though, they can’t compete with modern gels, but an added bonus of using these sponges over watering gels is that the roots will be insulated against heat, and they also contain microbes and nutrients that will help your plants and flowers flourish.

They also don’t require you to mix them in with the compost like gels, saving you time and cleaning up. 
This re-sealable bag contains 50 natural rooting sponges that will biodegrade as they are made from a combination of peat, bark and plant derived polymers.

These sponges are ideal for planting cuttings, growing herbs and vegetables from seeds, and for transplantation purposes. They are indeed very handy little things to have around and relatively inexpensive considering you get 50 of them in the packaging.

  • Pack of 50 offers good value for money
  • Biodegradable and will be gone within months once you have discarded them
  • Can be used for cuttings, growing food, or transplanting
  • Natural product made from peat, bark and plant derived polymers
  • Contain micronutrients and microbes to help your plants grow
  • Will insulate roots against heat
This natural alternative for using peat (which is a non-sustainable product) and perlite comes in the form of 5 bricks. 
The bricks are made of 100% natural coconut coir, the fibres on the outer shell of a coconut. It has many advantages over using peat. Not only is it far more sustainable as it is a natural by-product of harvesting coconuts, but it also retains more water and is easier to hydrate. It has a neutral PH balance and releases nutrients very efficiently into the soil for the roots to feed on. They can be used with normal, sandy, or clay soils and work well with all of them.The compressed bricks are easy to store and transport. When you want to use them, you simply soak them in water for a period and they will expand and turn into a useable peat substitute.

  • 100% natural alternative to peat
  • Neutral PH balance
  • Releases nutrients into the soil efficiently
  • Comes in compressed brick form for easy storage

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

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