Give it a Try!
Generally speaking I recommend planting in a container with drainage holes but many times there are pots without that work as well – we’re talking about pots indoors rather than outdoors today. In many wall planters, the drainage holes aren’t designed to let the water flow freely, so they will ruin the interior of the plants and many don’t have reservoirs. Furthermore, some of us also like using items that aren’t made for planting, such as baskets, pottery, and unfamiliar items. Here’s how I handle planting in pots without drainage holes.
Place plant inside non draining pot
Generally, the easiest solution is to check for excess water at the bottom of the non-draining pot by checking your plant several hours after it has been watered. The purpose of this solution is not to drain the plant! It is for preventing having to repot the plant in this container. It is still necessary to remove excess water from the pot to prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged.
Place plant and saucer inside cachepot
When you’re just getting started and lacking confidence in watering it, I recommend first looking for a plastic pot that you can put inside your no-drainage container, thus using it as a cachepot. That’s the way they’re supposed to work. Your sealed container won’t need a saucer if it is completely sealed. But If it isn’t completely sealed (like ceramic glazed with a glaze), then you should use a saucer to protect from leakage.
The process is very straightforward and can be used primarily to adapt containers meant for different purposes to serve as planters. The solution on this page can be used for baskets, fabric containers and any container that would otherwise leak or absorb water. Make sure your cachepot is level and place a saucer inside and make sure it is placed in a well. Be sure the plant you’re transferring inside the cachepot has drainage holes. Place the plant inside the cachepot and adjust it so that it’s sitting right on the saucer.
Place plant and draining rocks inside non-draining pot
You can use this solution no matter whether the plant will be placed in a pot with drainage holes or in its original drainage pot.
1) In a pot without drainage holes, you can prop the plant higher with a layer of draining stones on the bottom of the pot. This helps prevent plant suffocation. When the space between draining and non-draining pots is minimal, there is a risk of the roots being “sealed” off. Not enough air circulation around the pot, results in root rotting.
2) The draining rock layer surrounding the draining pot will prevent any excess water it might have gathered to pool around it.
3) In addition to providing humidity to plants that thrive on high levels of humidity, the drainage rocks, themselves create a pebble tray, pulling in water from the bottom of the tray.
If you are using a pot with drainage holes, ensure that the plant you are placing inside has a pot with drainage holes. Depending on the size of your plant and its pots, add a good layer of draining rocks to the bottom of the pot without drainage holes. You can add enough rocks for the root of your plant as well as its drainage pot to protrude from the decorative pot. Place your plant and the drainage pot in the decorative pot.
Create draining layers inside your non draining pot
This technique involves taking out the original drainage holes in the pot of your plants and placing them in pots with no drainage holes. The solution is also called the layering method because it involves creating layers of drainage within the pot without holes for drainage.
Many have expressed skepticism about this method, stating that water travels poorly from one medium to another (soil to rocks) and as such, excess water will accumulate in the soil, rather than drain down into the rocks.
This method helped me with certain plants. I have several thriving plants that have grown in pots without drainage holes that have draining layers at the bottom, including terrariums. In fact, this is exactly the same layering I usually use when assembling terrariums, but with the addition of extra decorative rocks or shells!
Ferns and some tropical plants prone to brown tips should avoid this method. I have had success with Spider Plants, Rubber Plants, Snake Plants, and even Pileas. The trick is to not water them too much!
How to Do It
Get all the layers, tools, and materials you need according to the size of the plant to be repotting.
Start by covering the bottom of the pot with drainage rocks. The thickness of the stones really depends on the size of your pot. For pots between 4′′-12′′ in diameter, I usually use at least 1′′ of rocks.
Activated Charcoal can be added to the drainage rock layer to further inhibit the decay of roots. This layer is usually thin and is higher in concentration.
The soil you use should be suitable for the plant species you are planting. Generally speaking, you should use special drainage mixes when you are working with pots without drainage holes.
Add soil all around your plant to fill the pot and place it on top of the soil layer.
Suppose your plant is inside a pot that does not have drainage holes. You will need to be extra careful when watering this particular plant. The wrong amount of water will still kill your plant! Always check the soil with your fingers to see if your plant needs water!
Can I still shower these pots?
The time you shower your plants will depend on the needs of the plant. For pots that do not drain, I would not recommend showering them directly because inevitably, they will flood. Yet I recommend that you clean the leaves anyway, so I tilt the pot sideways, stick a nozzle in and rinse the foliage under the water. It’s kind of like washing your hands in a sink without getting the rest of your body wet.
Do I Fertilize as Normal?
If you’re going to grow plants in pots without drainage, I recommend using organic fertilizers, but if you must use synthetic, make sure to use less in the pot. Drainage means salts in the soil cannot be leached out, so the chances of chemical burn accruing over time are very high.
Don’t practice planting without drainage on your favorite plants if it’s new to you. Build confidence, and environmental awareness first, and soon you’ll be able to plant anywhere you like! If you’ve ever seen pictures of succulents in old boots, that’s possible! But it’s almost always done by an experienced grower, which you can certainly be as well, so start simple.