To Drainage Hole.. Or Not To Drainage Hole?

To Drainage Hole.. Or Not To Drainage Hole?

Do I need a planter with a drainage hole?

June 16, 2022, by Vivienne Sayers 

Let's look at pots and drainage holes to see how you can offer your plants the greatest possible home! In this guide, we'll cover the following topics:

  1. What is the purpose of drainage holes in pots?
  2. How can plants be grown in a pot without drainage holes?
  3. How can drainage holes in pots be covered?
  4. Which plants need drainage holes in their pots?
  5. Is one drainage hole sufficient?


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What is the purpose of drainage holes in pots?

Drainage holes are critical to your plant's health.  They allow water in the soil to drain easily, allowing ample air to reach the roots.  When water and moisture cannot exit the pot, it remains at the bottom and can damage your plant in various ways. While different plants have different drainage requirements, few can tolerate sitting in stagnant water. It can lead your plant getting overwatered, which can promote bug infestations and root rot!

Does the pot HAVE to have a drainage hole?

Drainage holes are pretty essential, but it doesn't mean you can't use pots that don't have them. You may still use such pots, but you'll need to take additional precautions to keep your plant healthy (advised for more advanced plant parents only)!

In pots without a drainage hole, there are a couple of things you may do to avoid overwatering and root rot:

1. Make a thick foundation layer of nonorganic matter at the bottom of the pot (ie matter that won't break down after time). These foundation layers raise the dirt from the bottom of your pot, removing it from the excess water. If you establish a foundation layer of non-organic material, it is less likely that your plant's roots will begin to rot. These foundation layers may be made using various materials, but my favourites are leca (expanded clay balls) and stones/gravel.

2. If your pot did not come with one, try to drill holes in the bottom. We purposefully stock eco friendly recycled plastic ELHO pots so you can easily drill holes if you would like to! If drilling holes in your container is not an option, consider utilising it as a decorative pot in a "double potting" arrangement. Plant your plant in a drainage-holed container (Elho Transparent Nursery Pots found in-store & online), then put that pot into the bigger, ornamental pot. Then, when watering, the smaller plant and container/pot will be removable from the ornamental pot. You can now water it in the sink whenever needed and allow to drain before replacing it back into the ornamental pot. We recommend these transparent nursery pos with drainage holes, as root growth, and the health of the plant are easy to observe. 
    Elho Transparent Nursery Pot


    To keep your plant as happy as possible in either kind of planter, and to allow additional drainage (there can never be enough for us here in Ireland!!), it is best to also have a well-draining soil that we can mix for you in-store. We like to use perlite, orchid bark and grit to break up the plant's soil and prevent it from getting too compact!


    How can drainage holes in pots be covered?

    If you are dealing with dirty window sills and soil falling out of the bottom of your pot, you may be asking this question! The most straightforward technique is to place a saucer below the pot to capture any escapee water and soil! Another way is to place material over drainage holes to allow water, but not soil, to travel through. A rock or a piece of gardening sheet that enables moisture to flow freely will work nicely. 


    Elho Green Basics Orchid Saucer


    Which plants need drainage holes in their pots? 

    Many plant owners assume that pots with drainage holes must be used with certain kinds of plants. Fortunately, this is not always the case. As we've seen before in this guide, there are techniques to obtain good drainage in pots without a drainage hole. As a result, you may cultivate drought-tolerant plants (like Snake Plants!) in both pots with and without drainage holes. 

    Some plants need a lot of moisture, so you don't have to have both that foundation layer and well-draining soil mix if you don't want to (however, we highly recommend you have at least one of these! Peace Lilies and spider plants are among these types of plants. They like wetness and can absorb soil moisture rapidly to prevent significant difficulties. That assumes you have a pot that is the correct size for your plant.

    Is one drainage hole sufficient?

    You may be wondering whether one hole is sufficient to keep your plant happy. A single drainage hole in the centre of the pot is usually enough. These pots often feature a flat bottom, allowing moisture to flow uniformly down towards the drainage hole. You may always install extra drainage holes if you like, but it isn't required for the plant to be happy.


    Elho Vibes Fold Round - Deep Blue


    Most plants, whether indoor or outdoor, will need drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom of the pot, which may promote fungus, bacteria, and root rot. All of this, of course, must be avoided. It may require a bit more work to arrange your planters and your planting habits! 

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