When You Need Holes in the Bottom of Flower Pots and Planters
People ask me this all the time: Should I have holes in the bottom of my planters? Do my flower pots need holes in the bottom? The answer is… it depends. Here is a quick guide to when you should have holes in your planters and when you should not have holes in your planters.
As a general rule, plants do not like for their roots to be sitting in soggy soil for too long. If you don’t have holes in your pots, it can be difficult or impossible to know if the roots are sitting in water and how soggy it is down at the bottom of the pot.If the soil is too soggy, then the roots may rot, eventually killing the plant. This is especially true, and can happen really easily, with succulents, cacti and other plants (such as a lot of dracaena, philodendron, and the fiddle-leaf fig) that need the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. If there are holes in the bottom of your pot, then excess water can drain out, preventing the soil and roots from sitting in too much water. But, having holes in your pots can be messy, especially if your plants are inside. Here are some great tips and general rules of (green) thumb that I follow with my plants:
First, a super pro tip: Planters with holes in the bottom but with rims or saucers can be used anywhere! Like these:
Almost all of my inside plants are in pots without holes in the bottom. This is mostly because I don’t like dealing with the mess of dirt or water leaking out of the bottom. BUT, all of them are ‘lined’ with plastic nursery pots that do have holes in them. That way, water can drain out and I can always check to see if the plants are sitting in excess water. But, because the ‘outside’ planter does not have any holes in it, the mess is all contained and there is no risk of water or dirt spilling all over my house.
Outside, Uncovered Plants
All of these – except plants that really, really like swampy conditions – should be in pots with holes in the bottom. This is because if it rains a ton and the pot can’t drain, your plant will be completely underwater soon. A lot of people complain that with outside pots that have holes in them, the plant dries out quickly after watering (especially in the summer). If you have outside plants and water to keep them well-hydrated, two products I recommend (and use in almost all of my outside pots) are (1) the Soil Moist Water Storing Crystals or the Miracle Gro Water Storing Crystals and (2) Soil Moist Mats (which I call “plant diapers“). These products are all super inexpensive and are serious game-changers. They store excess water and release it slowly, and can reduce plant watering frequency by over 50%!
Also, for outside but covered plants (such as plants on a covered porch or gazebo or anywhere that doesn’t get rained on), you can go either way!
So, in sum:
Inside / houseplants: All are in nursery pots inside pots with no holes.
Patio plants: Some have the same situation as houseplants, some are in pots with holes.
Outside plants: All are in pots with holes.