I can’t stress the importance of drainage enough! Drainage helps keep your plants evenly watered and prevents them from drowning. Roots should never sit in soggy soil for prolonged periods of time. When a pot doesn’t have drainage, water fills up at the bottom of the pot and has nowhere to go. Over time, the roots will rot, and that will lead to plant death. Even if you don’t over-water, not allowing a plant to drain is a surefire way to kill it.
Every plant pot should have a hole. I know it may be hard to find, but it is key to caring for healthy plants. I love shopping at thrift stores for pots. One, because I find some extremely unique styles, and two, because it’s significantly cheaper! Yes, I save money from buying pots at thrift stores, but the majority of them (about 90%) don’t have holes. My theory is that the people who got rid of them realized the pots were killing their plants! Hole-less pots are highly impractical for live plants!
My solution: Diamond Grit Hole Saw Drill Bits! Drill bits made for drilling holes into ceramic, tile, glass, and concrete! I’ve drilled most of my hole-less pots, getting the best of both worlds – saving money by thrifting cool pots, as well as keeping my plants alive by providing them adequate drainage.
Get Yours Here!
Diamond Drill Bit Hole Saw 5-Piece Set
I find that these work the best. Quite like a charm, actually. It’s almost effortless. All you need is a drill, some water, and a hole-less pot.
Check out my video here:
Before I discovered the magic of diamond hole saw drill bits, I used to use masonry drill bits. They work fine for light duty projects, but they won’t drill through certain types of extremely thick, bathroom tile-type material.
I have drilled holes into about one third of my plant pots. I have even turned little ceramic bowls that weren’t made to be plant pots, into plant pots. Anything can be a drainage-friendly pot when you put your mind to it!
Another option is to set plastic nursery pots inside of your decorative pots. Then when you water, you lift the plastic pot out and dump the water out of the bottom of the decorative pot. I find this especially helpful with indoor hanging plants planted in terracota inserts (placed inside the decorative outer pots), since terracota clay is particularly good at absorbing moisture.
Speaking of pots, look how freaking cute this Baby Groot pot is! And guess what, it has a built-in drainage hole!
Baby Groot Planter
Besides making sure your pots have drainage holes, another thing to consider is the type of soil you are using. It is vital to use a “potting mix” when planting indoor plants, or when using containers outside. “Planting mix” will not drain properly, since it is for ground plantings. It is a good soil amendment, and it is made up of all organic matter. Organic matter holds onto moisture for an extended period of time, has more surface area, and it is not a good option for a small planting space like the inside of a pot. Water will remain in the pot and can cause root rot. Potting soil is well-aerated, lightweight, and is made up of a good balance of organic materials and mineral particles like sand, peat moss, bark, vermiculite, and perlite. My favorite potting soil to use is a local organic blend by Gardner and Bloome, G&B Organic Potting Mix. I recommend you check out the ingredients in this soil and bring it to your local nursery and buy the closest thing to it. Or, if you want to order something online, this is a good substitute:
If you decide to not drill holes in your pots, or if you want to make something work temporarily, you can put a layer of perlite on the bottom (about 2 inches), which will help a lot. Keep in mind it is not a good long-term solution, though. A good perlite would be:
The best soil for succulents would be either a Succulent-Cactus mix, or African Violet Mix. Peat moss is the main ingredient in most potting soils, which is hard to wet and then dries out quickly. Sand is mixed in to make it more porous. Adding finely-ground bark will make the water penetrate more quickly. Other good ingredients are any inorganic substances that allow water to soak in but drain out quickly, keeping the mix crumbly and airy, e.g. – perlite, pumice, crushed granite.
I really hope this helps guide you along to properly-drained plants and that you now have a better understanding of the proper soils to use. When I caught myself using a planting mix for my indoor plants, it made sense to why they were so squishy and rotting at the base. I had to replant everything! Don’t let the same mistake happen to you!
If you enjoyed what you read and don’t ever want to miss a post, securely sign-up for my e-mail list here.
All photo rights belong to Cristie R. Kiley. Please ask permission before taking.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if purchased, at no additional cost to you. This is to simply offset the cost of running this website. Please note that all of the above statements are entirely my own, honest opinions that are derived from personal experience. I would never endorse such products if they didn’t work or if I didn’t see real, positive results. Buy with confidence!