How to Use Planters Without Drainage Holes - Backyard Boss
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How to Use Planters Without Drainage Holes

Every houseplant owner knows the struggle: there are plenty of planters on the market, but they don’t always have the drainage holes plants need to survive.

If you’ve chosen to home your houseplants in an aesthetic pot that lacks proper drainage, you already know they usually don’t make it out alive. If they do, the plants are generally a wilted shell of what they once were.

You might have the perfect houseplant collection but struggle when it comes to finding beautiful yet functional planters. Check out this guide to discover two different ways to use those eye-catching pots without putting the health of your plants at risk!

Why is Drainage So Important?

Woman wearing apron watering indoor plants
Image credits: Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock

When it comes down to it, drainage is one of the most important factors in keeping your houseplants healthy. Essentially, a drainage hole in the bottom of your pot will allow the water to drain through the soil, ensuring there is plenty of air for the roots to breathe.

This is also why most houseplants require well-drained soil. In fact, many plants, such as orchids, prefer soilless mixtures as the roots are less likely to become waterlogged.

If you do plant your houseplants in pots without drainage holes, there’s a good chance you’ll overwater them. Fortunately, signs of of overwatering, such as yellow leaves and wet soil, are generally easy to spot. If you do overwater your plants, you should be able to save them by repotting and replacing the soil.

Tools You’ll Need

Woman replanting flowers, pulling hydrangea with roots from a pot, close-up on hands.
Image credits: RossHelen via Shutterstock

Now that you know why you need to provide your plants with drainage, there are a few tools you’ll need to properly use those stunning but stubborn planters without drainage holes. Find the essentials for the different methods down below!

  • Pot of your choice
  • Nursery pots or pots with drainage
  • Shears
  • Drill
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective eyewear

Using Planters Without Drainage Holes

Option 1: Use it as a Cache Pot

Jade plant in cachepot
Image credits: Engin_Akyurt via Pixabay

One of the simplest ways to use a planter without a drainage hole is to use it as a cache pot! Essentially, a cache pot is a cover for another container. You can use the nursery pot houseplants come in, and drop them right in your decorative container. This will essentially hide the ill-favored vessel the plant grows in, while containing it in an embellished planter.

The trick with this method is to use a plant and pot that are slightly smaller than the cache pot. This will make it easy to slip the plant into the desired container making it easier to check on its watering needs. You can simply remove the liner pot holding the plant when you need to water. Always drain your un-holed potter before you return it as excess water in the cache pot can result in waterlogged roots!

Option 2: Drill Your Own Drainage Holes!

multicolored terracotta pots
Image credits: sweetloiuse via Pixabay

This option is for those who are more inclined for a good ol’ fashioned DIY. If you’re handy with a drill (or know someone who is), drilling your own drainage hole is the best of both worlds! You’ll enjoy the beauty of the decorative pot while your plant will be happy and healthy in its new home.

If the pot is plastic, you can use shears to puncture a half inch hole in the center of the pot or a few smaller holes around the diameter of the pot. If it is ceramic or metal, you’ll need to use a drill to carefully make a hole. No matter how you choose to do this, remember to wear eye protection and gloves!

Myth or Fact: Using Rocks for Drainage

soilless mix
Image credits: Marlyn Espina’s Images via Canva

In theory, using rocks, stones, or gravel at the bottom of the pot seems like a good way to provide drainage. Unfortunately, it’s a myth!

If you layer the bottom of your pot with a different material the water will actually gather on the soil above the layer of stone, creating a “perched water table.” Once the soil is fully saturated, only then will the water drain into the rocky layer below. This means that there is no room for air and the roots will become waterlogged.

With that said, you can use rocks at the bottom of your decorative cache pot alongside a pot with drainage. The rocks will ensure that your plant is not sitting in any excess water that drains through. Plus, the rocks will act as a ledge for the plant which is ideal if the decorative pot is on the taller side!

Be-leaf in Yourself!

Whether you choose to use your new pot as a cache pot or drill your own pots, you can definitely make use of decorative containers that don’t come with drainage holes! With that said, it’s important to remember that you should never plant houseplants directly in these types of pots as they will likely become waterlogged.

Do you have any tips for using planters without drainage holes? Share in the comments below!

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