Title:
Self-watering plant stand
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stand for plants or trees having a self-watering device coupled thereto is disclosed. The self-watering device comprises a reservoir that is fluidically coupled to a support container in which the plant or tree is secured. The top of the reservoir is positioned below the top of the support container such that when water is placed in the reservoir and allowed to flow into the support container, the support container will not overflow. The conduit between the reservoir and the support container may be of any useful length but is preferably long enough to extend beyond the foliage of the plant or tree so as to permit easy access to the reservoir. A bottle or other container may be inverted and placed in the reservoir to provide an extended supply of water to the self-watering device.



Inventors:
Bielen, William S. (Madison Lake, MN, US)
Application Number:
10/286331
Publication Date:
05/06/2004
Filing Date:
11/01/2002
Assignee:
BIELEN WILLIAM S.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A01G27/00; A47G33/12; (IPC1-7): A47G7/02; A47G33/12
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ALIMENTI, SUSAN C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dykema Gossett PLLC (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A self-watering tree stand comprising: a base structure; a support container comprising an open top vessel coupled to the base structure, the base structure supporting the central support container in a predetermined attitude, the support container having a clamping mechanism coupled thereto for holding a tree therein in a predetermined attitude; a self watering device comprising a reservoir fluidically coupled by a conduit to the support container such that water placed in the reservoir flows into the support container, the upper edge of the reservoir being lower than the upper edge of the support container.

2. The self-watering tree stand of claim 1 wherein the connections between the conduit and the reservoir and the conduit and the support container are substantially at 90°.

3. The self watering tree stand of claim 1 wherein the reservoir further comprises a bottle that may be supported thereon in an inverted position such that an opening in the neck of the bottle extends downward into the reservoir.

4. A self-watering plant stand comprising: a support container comprising an open top vessel coupled to the base structure, the base structure supporting the central support container in a predetermined attitude, the support container having a clamping mechanism coupled thereto for holding a tree therein in a predetermined attitude; a self watering device comprising a reservoir fluidically coupled to the support container such that water placed in the reservoir flows into the support container, the upper edge of the reservoir being lower than the upper edge of the support container.

5. The self watering plant stand of claim 4 wherein the reservoir further comprises a bottle that may be supported thereon in an inverted position such that an opening in the neck of the bottle extends downward into the reservoir.

6. A self watering device comprising a reservoir fluidically coupled by a conduit to a support container such that water placed in the reservoir flows into the support container, the upper edge of the reservoir being lower than the upper edge of the support container.

7. The self watering device of claim 6 wherein the support container has coupled thereto a base structure that is constructed and arranged to support the support container in a predetermined attitude.

8. The self watering device of claim 7 wherein the support container further comprises a clamping mechanism for securing a plant therein.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention is related to a plant stand or container having a self-watering mechanism associated therewith.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Live plants, and particularly live trees such as the conifers typically brought indoors during the holidays, require constant watering to keep them fresh. However, with the larger plants such as the aforementioned conifers, it may be difficult to reach the base of the plant. And even where the base can easily be reached, it is often difficult to determine whether the plant needs water. All too often a plant is left under-watered or conversely over-watered. Where the plant is under-watered, the plant may die or at the very least, will dry out and lose much of its foliage. This can result in an unsightly plant or even a fire hazard, as in the case of a large conifer brought indoors. Where a plant is over-watered, the plant may die or otherwise become unhealthy. In addition, over-watering a plant can create large spills that are difficult to clean up and that may damage goods around the plant.

[0003] Accordingly, it would be advantageous to provide a plant stand or holder that includes a mechanism that allows for easily watering the plant. In addition, it would be doubly advantageous to provide the watering mechanism with means for ensuring that that the plant will not be over-watered and for easily determining when the plant does need water.

[0004] These and other objectives and advantages of the invention will appear more fully from the following description, made in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference characters refer to the same or similar parts throughout the several views.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] In its most basic form the present invention is realized in a self watering device that comprises a reservoir which is fluidically coupled by a conduit to a support container. Water placed in the reservoir flows through the conduit into the support container, but because the upper edge of the reservoir is lower than the upper edge of the support container, water cannot overflow in the support container.

[0006] A preferred embodiment of the present invention involves a tree stand that includes a support container that is essentially an open top vessel coupled to a base structure that supports support container in a predetermined attitude. The support container has a clamping mechanism coupled thereto that holds a tree therein. As described hereinabove, the self watering device comprises a reservoir that is fluidically coupled by the conduit to the support container. Water placed in the reservoir flows into the support container through the conduit, but because the upper edge of the reservoir is lower than the upper edge of the support container, water cannot overflow in the support container. Note that the preferred embodiment of the present invention is most often utilized with Christmas trees and the like, though it may be used with any type of foliage that may be clamped in the support container.

[0007] Preferably the self-watering device will be formed as an integral part of a tree or plant stand. However, where it is desirable to disassemble the watering device fromt he base of the tree stand, it is preferred to form the connections between the conduit and the reservoir and the conduit and the support container at substantially 90°. This ensures that the tops of the reservoir and support container will be at the correct relative heights.

[0008] Another variation on the present invention involves a bottle, flask, or other fluid container of any shape or size that may be supported on the reservoir in an inverted position such that an opening in the neck of the bottle extends downward into the reservoir. In this embodiment, as the water is withdrawn from the support container by the tree or plant, the water within the bottle will refill the reservoir, and hence the support container. So long as a substantially airtight seal is formed between the bottle and the top of the reservoir, water will not overflow into the support container. Because the conduit generally allows the reservoir to extend beyond the foliage of the tree or plant in the support container, the bottle may readily be removed, cleaned, and refilled.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a self-watering plant stand according to the present invention;

[0010] FIG. 2 is a top, plan view of the plant stand of FIG. 1;

[0011] FIG. 3 is a partial cross sectional view of a plant stand according to the present invention taken along cutting lines 3-3 in FIG. 2;

[0012] FIG. 4 is the partial cross sectional view of a plant stand according to the present invention taken along cutting lines 3-3 in FIG. 2 illustrating a water supply container coupled thereto; and,

[0013] FIG. 5 is a cross sectional schematic view of a flower pot according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0014] Although the disclosure hereof is detailed and exact to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, the physical embodiments herein disclosed merely exemplify the invention which may be embodied in other specific structure. While the preferred embodiment has been described, the details may be changed without departing from the invention, which is defined by the claims.

[0015] The plant stand 10 of the present invention is best exemplified by the Christmas tree stand 12 illustrated in FIG. 1. The tree stand 12 of FIG. 1 comprises a central support container 14 large enough to receive therein the base of a tree 16. The support container 14 may be cylindrical, as illustrated, or may be of any useful shape, including frustoconical and rectangular. As can best be seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, the central support container has a small spike affixed to the interior bottom thereof that extends upwardly to engage the base of the trunk of the tree 16. This prevents the trunk of the tree from moving laterally within the support container 14. The support container 14 also has a clamping mechanism that is in this case a plurality of thumbscrews 20 that pass through the wall of the central support container 14 to engage the trunk of the tree 16 to rigidly secure the trunk of the tree 16 within the support container.

[0016] The support container 14 and tree 16 are supported by a base structure 22 that is secured to the central support container 14. The base structure is in the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 comprised of an exterior ring 24 that is secured to the support container 14 by a plurality of spokes 26. It is to be understood that the base structure 22 may take many different forms, including three or more independent legs, a flat plate, or a massive downwardly depending skirt coupled to the support container 14 so as to maintain the support container 14 in an upright position with regard to a surface upon which the plant stand 10 has been placed. It can also be appreciated that the size of the plant stand 10 and its base structure 22 may vary with regard to the size of the tree or plant 16 with which the plant stand 10 is used.

[0017] As indicated above, it is desirable to supply the plant or tree 16 supported by the plant stand 10 with water. In a typical prior art plant stand, water would be placed in the central support container to keep the tree 16 alive and green. This was accomplished by directly pouring the water into the central support container. The present invention, however, includes a self-watering device 30 that comprises a reservoir 32 that is connected to the central support container 14 by a conduit 34. The connection between the reservoir 32 and the central support container 14 is sealed such that water will not leak from the self-watering device 30. Water placed within the reservoir 32 flows through the conduit 34 and into the central support structure 14 so as to provide water to the tree or plant 16. The conduit 34 has a length that is sufficient to place the reservoir 32 at or beyond the extent of the foliage of the tree or plant 16 housed in the plant stand 10. In this manner, water may easily be fed to the tree 16 through the self-watering device 30.

[0018] The self-watering device 30 is constructed and arranged so as to prevent the overfilling of the central support container 14. This is accomplished by insuring that the open top of the reservoir 32 is maintained at or below the open top of the support container 14, as indicated by maximum fill line 36. Where both the central support container 14 and the reservoir 32 are open to the atmosphere, and because these two containers are fluidically connected by conduit 34, water within the system 30 will find a level which is substantially the same in both the support container 14 and the reservoir 32. As the maximum fill line 36, which is defined by the uppermost entrance into the reservoir 32, is also physically below the uppermost entrance to the support container 14, it will be impossible to overfill the central support container 14 as water could not rise within the central support container 14 to a level at which it would overflow.

[0019] In the preferred embodiment of the plant stand 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, it is desirable to form the Christmas tree stand 12 integrally with the self-watering device 30. In this manner, it can be insured that the maximum fill line 36 defined by the top of the reservoir 32 will always be below the top of the support container 14. Alternatively, where it is desirable to break down a rather large Christmas tree stand 12, the Christmas tree stand may be constructed and arranged to be completely disassembled from the self-watering device 30. In this instance, it is preferred that the couplings between the reservoir 32 and the conduit 34 and the conduit 34 and the central support container 14 be maintained in a predetermined geometric relationship, preferably 90° to one another. In any case, it is desirable to construct the conduit such that the relationship between the reservoir 32 and the support container 14 is as desired. This insures that when the Christmas tree stand 12 is reassembled, it will be reassembled such that the maximum fill line 36 defined by the top of the reservoir 32 is below the top of the central support container 14, thereby preventing overfilling of the central support container 14. It is to be understood that any means for connecting the reservoir 32 to the conduit 34 and the conduit 34 to the central support container 14 that insures the geometric relationship set forth hereinabove between the reservoir 32, the conduit 34 and the central support container 14 is maintained may be used.

[0020] Referring next to FIG. 4, an alternate embodiment of the Christmas tree stand 12 may be seen. In this embodiment, the reservoir 32 is provided with an elastomeric sealing element 38 around its upper edge. A container such as plastic bottle 40 may be upended and placed onto the reservoir 32 such that the elastomeric seal 38 contacts the bottle 40 to form a substantially airtight seal between the bottle 40 and the reservoir 32. Note that the neck 42 of the bottle will extend down into the reservoir 32. Water within the bottle 40 will flow into the reservoir 32 until such time as the level of the water within the reservoir 32, conduit 34, and central support container 14 has reached a level that is below the maximum fill line 36 but above the neck 42 of the bottle 40. The bottle 40 represents an additional supply of water that will automatically replenish the water within the central support container 14 as the tree 16 removes water therefrom. Note that if air can freely enter the reservoir 32 past the elastomeric seal 38, then the water within the bottle 40 may flow freely into the reservoir 32. This free flow of water into the reservoir 32 may cause it to overflow, though it must be remembered that the support container 14 will not. As the level of water within the central support container 14 and the reservoir 32 drops below the neck 42 of the bottle 40, water within the bottle will again flow into the reservoir 32, thereby replenishing the supply of water within the central support container 14. Note that the bottle 40 is preferably a two-liter bottle of the type used to contain soft drinks. However, the bottle 40 may take any shape consistent with the aforementioned function and yet remain within the scope of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 5 illustrates plant stand 10 of the present invention embodied in a simple flower pot 44. Self-water structure 46 comprises a small reservoir 48 secured to the side of the flower pot 44. An opening 50 provides fluidic communication between the reservoir 48 and the interior of the flower pot 44. Again, the uppermost portion of the reservoir 48 is specifically placed at a lower level than the upper edge of the flower pot 44 so that when water is placed within the reservoir 48, the flower pot 44 itself may not be overfilled.

[0022] The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Furthermore, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described. While the preferred embodiment has been described, the details may be changed without departing from the invention, which is defined by the claims.