Hole-y Moly: The Drainage Hole Debate

There seem to be two very different opinions when it comes to plant pots (a.k.a. planters). Those who feel strongly that all planters must have drainage holes, and those who don’t! Until recently, I had fallen into the later category… I currently have many plants that live in pots without drainage holes, and they are doing quite well. But opinions can change, and holes can be made!

There is a good chance that at this point you’re asking yourself, why does a planter need a hole?!

Planters that do not have drainage holes run the risk of damaging the roots of a plant!  A plant needs water to live, this is true. But one of the most common ways to kills your plant is by over-watering it… too much of a good thing. Sometimes, it might not be over-watering alone that is the problem: A little too much water + No where for the extra water to go = You got plant problems.

Now you might be thinking: What am I suppose to do with all of my planters that don’t have drainage holes?!?!

Don’t panic! Creating drainage holes in your planter(s) is super simple. And now that spring is here, it’s the perfect time to fertilize your plant… So why not create a drainage hole and fertilize at the same time?!

Perhaps you don’t want to drill holes? There is another solution:

All of my plants living in pots without drainage holes have a bottom layer of rock that is approximately 1″ – 2″ deep. This layer ensures that the roots of my plants are not sitting in excess water, which could cause damage, rot, and eventually lead to a sad plant death.

There are many arguments against this practice, one of them being that excess water is still stuck in the pot. Therefore, it has no where to go, so just sits there, possibly growing mildew, creating a buildup of salt, and limiting the amount of oxygen reaching the roots. All of which will slowly but surely hurt the plant.

While all of this is true, if you are careful not to over-water your plant and make sure it gets enough sun in order to utilize all of that delicious H2O, you can eliminate any amounts of excess water that might be lurking behind.

In conclusion!

Many debates later, I have come to the conclusion that using planters with drainage holes is the safest way to ensure optimal plant health. Cause let’s be honest, I’ve been known to over-water a plant or two.

As a recap, here are the tools you’ll need:

  • A drill
  • A ceramic & glass drill bit (we use one that is 1/4″)
  • A spray bottle
  • Painters tape
  • Protection for your floor (and your head, if you’re a scaredy-cat like me!)

A big thank you to my good friend Rebecca for passionately arguing the importance of drainage holes, and for teaching all of us how easy it is to make them!

Curious to read more about this great debate? Here are a few articles that I found interesting and informative:

Pistils Nursery: How to Plant in a Pot Without Drainage Holes

ABC Science: Rocks in pots? What a crock!

House Plant Journal (tumblr)

SFGate: Can a Plant Grow in a Pot Where There’s No Hole in the Bottom?


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