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How to Keep Flower Pots With Drainage Holes From Making a Mess

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Proper drainage is essential to the health of your potted plants. Although growing conditions vary widely, depending on the specific needs of different plants, most potted plants are susceptible to suffocation and rot in consistently soggy soil. A drainage hole at the base of a plant container allows water to drain freely, which provides air circulation to the plant. But as water drains out, potting soil often washes out with it, creating a mess with every routine watering. Fortunately, you can sidestep the mess by using one of several quick, easy solutions to the problem.

“>Cover the Hole

Cover the drainage hole of the container before planting, using a material that allows water to drain freely while holding the potting soil in. Ideas include a piece of broken pottery or a small square of fine mesh screen. You can also place a paper coffee filter or a layer of folded newspaper over the hole.

“>Use a Saucer

Place a potted plant on a drainage saucer that collects excess water as it runs out through the drainage hole and prevents it from leaking onto tabletops, floors, patios, decks or porches. Never allow plants to stand in a saucer of water, however. Let the soil drain completely after watering and then empty the saucer.

“>Line a Saucer

Line a drainage saucer with a layer of pebbles, gravel or sand, which allows the container to drain freely and prevents the bottom of the pot from standing in water. This technique is especially useful for plants that require high humidity as the moisture evaporates from the moist layer to the atmosphere surrounding the plant’s foliage. Use colored pebbles or sand to add a decorative element.

“>Take It Outside

Weather permitting, take your houseplants outside to water them and let them enjoy a moment in the sun while the excess water drains out. Or water them in the kitchen sink while unneeded water slips neatly down the drain.

Some planting containers have several small drainage holes instead of one large hole. The smaller holes help prevent loss of potting soil.

Double-potting – placing a pot with a drainage hole inside a pot with no drainage hole – prevents messes, but be sure the inner pot never stands in water. This technique works well for hanging plants.

Warning

Avoid using containers with attached drainage saucers as these pots may not allow for adequate drainage.

Don’t attempt to staunch the flow by placing gravel in the bottom of the container. Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott of Washington State University’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center warns that gravel or other material added to facilitate drainage only makes the problem worse by hindering the movement of water through the pot.

How to Keep Flower Pots With Drainage Holes From Making a Mess. Proper drainage is essential for the health of plants. While growing conditions vary widely depending on the specific needs of different plants, nearly any type of plant is susceptible to suffocation and rot in consistently soggy soil. A drainage hole …

Why Are Drainage Holes Important: Do Pots Need Drain Holes

Why are drainage holes important? No matter what type of plants you are growing, using containers with drainage holes is essential to their health. A lack of drainage is one of the most common culprits in cases of unhealthy and dying plants.

Why Do Pots Need Drain Holes?

With the exception of a few aquatic plants, plant roots don’t like to sit in water. They need to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the air, and excess water closes off the air pockets in soil. Plants in pots without drainage holes are prone to becoming overwatered. Even if the soil surface appears dry, the soil at the bottom of the pot may be sopping wet.

Waterlogged soil can lead to root rot, a serious condition that can easily kill your plants. Signs of root rot include wilted leaves that don’t perk up after watering, yellow leaves, and leaf drop. If you remove the plant from the container, you may see black or brown, slimy or mushy roots.

Another major reason to make sure that there are enough holes in pots is to prevent salt buildup in the potting soil. Tap water and fertilizers contain salts that can harm plants. As plant roots take in water, they leave some of the salts behind, and salts concentrate in the soil over time. When you water thoroughly and let the water flow out through the drainage holes in the bottom of the container, salts are flushed out of the soil.

With no drainage holes, salts are never removed from the soil but just keep building up, creating an unhealthy environment for your plants. If salts do build up in your potting soil, you may see the plant’s leaves turning brown on the tips and edges, or you may see a whitish crust of salt on the soil surface.

Many homeowners keep their houseplants sitting in saucers to protect the furniture or floor from drips. This is fine, but make sure water does not sit in the saucer, where it can wick right back into the potting soil. Be sure to dump the water out of each saucer regularly. Or, try watering your plants in the kitchen sink, then moving them back to the saucers after they drain.

Can You Use Pots Without Drainage Holes?

If your pot came without a drainage hole, see if you can drill holes in the bottom. If it is impossible to drill holes in your container, try using it as a decorative pot in a “double potting” system.

Pot up your plant in a smaller container with drainage holes, then place the smaller pot inside the larger, decorative pot. Every time you need to water, simply remove the smaller container and water it in the sink. When it’s finished draining, replace it in the decorative pot.

Why are drainage holes important? No matter what type of plants you are growing, using containers with drainage holes is essential to their health. A lack of drainage is one of the most common culprits in cases of unhealthy and dying plants.