Home Plant guides Everything you should know about drainage holes in plant pots

Drainage hole in a terracotta pot

Everything you should know about drainage holes in plant pots

Should you get a pot with drainage holes or should you get one that doesn't have any drainage holes? Do all plants need a pot with drainage holes or can you also get that amazing pot that doesn't have any? Drainage holes can be quite confusing for a lot of beginning plant owners, because all plants need a drainage hole right?!

In this plant care guide, we're going to look at everything you need to know about drainage holes. At the end of this guide, you'll know exactly how to use the two different types of pots for your houseplants.

There are a few things that we're going to look at in this plant care guide:

  1. What are drainage holes in pots for?
  2. How can grow plants in a pot without drainage holes?
  3. How can you cover drainage holes in pots?
  4. Which plants need a pot with drainage holes?
  5. Is one drainage hole enough?

Let's explore the world of pots and drainage holes and find out how you can give your plants the best fitting pot!

What are drainage holes in pots for?

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Plant pot with a drainage hole

Drainage holes have that name for a great reason, because they are there to drain any excess water from the pot. When you water your plants, the soil absorbs all the moisture it can and the rest of it will sink to the bottom of the pot. This is where the drainage hole(s) at the bottom of the pot come in: This extra moisture drips out of the pot.

This drainage hole is very important for the health of your plant. When the moisture can't escape the pot and stays at the bottom, it could harm your plant in several ways. It could cause your plant to be over watered. The soil has already absorbed the moisture it needs to water your plant properly, but there is still extra moisture left behind. If the soil doesn't dry out quickly enough, this will over water your plant.

When it has over watered your plant, it could get worse, because now your plant is at risk of getting root rot. The drainage hole at the bottom of your pot prevents all of these bad things and helps your plant.

So drainage holes are essential for your plant's health, so why are there pots without drainage holes? Let's look at that and also go into how you can still use these pots to grow your plants.

How can grow plants in a pot without drainage holes?

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Growing a plant in a pot without a drainage hole

Drainage holes are very important, but that doesn't mean you can't use pots that don't have drainage holes. You can still use those pots, but you'll have to take an extra step to help your plant stay healthy.

There are 2 things you can do to prevent over watering and root rot in pots without a drainage hole:

  1. Add base layer of non-organic material to your pot
  2. Use the plastic pot with holes your plant came in as a raised bottom

Let's look at both of these ways quickly, as they're an easy way to use those pots without drainage holes, while keeping your plants happy.

Add base layer of non-organic material to your pot

Base layer of Leca

As we've seen before, standing water at the bottom of your pot can cause root rot. But if you create a base layer of non-organic material, there is less chance something starts to rot.

You can make these base layers with all types of things, but my favorites are Leca and Smart Gravel. These base layers lift the soil off the bottom of your pot, so it's no longer standing in water.

Use the plastic pot with holes your plant came in as a raised bottom

The second option you have is to use the plastic pot your plant came in. This pot has drainage holes at the bottom, so you can easily water it when you need to. You can put this plastic pot inside of a pot without a drainage hole, so you can still use those types of pots.

When you use the plastic pot with holes in the bottom, the pot without drainage holes it's standing in catches any of the excess moisture. The outer pot will catch the moisture, but also keep it away from the soil in the inner pot.

How can you cover drainage holes in pots?

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Rock covering the drainage hole

Drainage holes are great for the health of your plants, but they're also quite impractical. If you move the pot around quite a big, you'll see soil falling out of the pot regularly. You can prevent this from happening by covering the hole with something.

The best ways to cover the drainage holes is to use something that doesn't hold onto moisture. Something like a piece of cloth will hold onto moisture and it's best you don't use this to cover the hold. A better option would be a rock or a piece of gardening sheet that allows moisture to flow through freely.

You'll notice right away that these covers still allow the moisture to drain, but won't let (a lot) of soil escape from the pot.

Now we know how to use a pot with and without a drainage hole, let's see which plants do well in a pot one and which do well in pots without one.

Which plants need a pot with drainage holes?

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A lot of plant owners believe that a pots with a drainage hole have to be used with certain types of plants. Luckily, this is not necessarily true. As we've seen earlier in this plant care guide, there are ways to get great drainage in pots without a drainage hole. Because of this, you can grow drought-loving plants in a pot with a drainage hole, but also in a pot without one. If you have a drought-loving plant and you want to grow it in a pot without a drainage hole, you can! You should make sure that you have a base layer of rocks, Leca, or Smart Gravel in your pot and you're ready to use that pot.

There are a few plants that love moisture a lot, so you don't have to add that base layer if you don't want to. Some of these plants are Peace Lilies or Spider plants. They love moisture and can absorb the moisture in the soil quickly enough to avoid serious problems. That does assume that you have a pot that's properly sized for your plant.

Is one drainage hole enough?

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Your local gardening store probably sells a lot of pots with one drainage hole. You might wonder if that is enough to keep your plant happy. Generally, a single drainage hole in the middle of the pot is fine. These pots often have a flat bottom, which means that the moisture will evenly flow down towards the drainage hole. You can always carefully add more drainage holes if you want to, but it's not necessary for the plant to be happy.

Conclusion

Drainage holes can be confusing from beginning plant owners. They're confusing, because over watering plants is quite easy, so why would you get a pot that keeps excess water in the pot? Luckily, there are several ways you can give pots without a drainage hole a fair chance. If you use the plastic pot your plant came in and put that in the pot without drainage holes, you still have excellent drainage. You can also add a base layer of rocks, Leca, or Smart gravel at the bottom of the pot to keep the plant away from the excess moisture.

Pots with and without drainage holes are all great and can be used for all plants. Pots without drainage holes just need a few extra step to work for any plant.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide or donate a plant in order to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: soil, drainage, water, pot

Posted on: Sep 18, 2021

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