Can a Plant Grow in a Pot If There's No Hole in the Bottom?

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Can a Plant Grow in a Pot If There's No Hole in the Bottom?
Don't give up on the idea of planting in an ornate ceramic pot that doesn't have drainage. (Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Drainage is critical for potted plants, as soggy soil can cause fungal disease and rot that often kills the plant. Unfortunately, some decorative containers made of clay, brass, wood or copper have no drainage hole. Although these pots present a problem, you still can use them for plants. Implement some creative methods to provide your prized plants with the drainage necessary to keep them healthy.

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Pot Within a Pot

A pot within a pot is the easiest way to solve the problem of a pot without a drainage hole. Purchase a smaller pot -- with a drainage hole -- that fits easily inside your decorative pot. It can be an inexpensive plastic or clay pot. Fill this pot with the best commercial potting mixture for your particular plant, then plant inside it. Put some small stones or a small pedestal of some kind inside the larger pot and place the smaller pot on top of it. Alternatively, place a layer of pebbles in the larger pot and set the smaller pot on them. Either will raise the small pot up enough to drain properly. Don't overwater, as the bottom of the small pot must never stand in water.

Benefits of Pot Within a Pot

While pots without drainage holes present difficulties that must be overcome, they also present opportunities for growing plants in interesting ways. A large, decorative pot will hold several smaller pots. This allows gardeners to grow plants with varying needs in the same outer pot. For example, you can plant a cactus with a fern, or a jade plant with an African violet--something you could never do in a single pot. Pot within a pot also allows you to change and rearrange the plants within the pot whenever and however you wish.

Create a Hole

Depending on the material of the pot, it may be possible to make a drainage hole where one doesn't exist. It is easy to add drainage to pots made of some materials, such as wood, plastic, brass or copper, by drilling at least one small hole in the bottom of the pot. Sometimes you can create a hole with a hammer and a small nail. Other containers, especially glass or ceramic, are more difficult and may shatter or crack. If you want to try to create a hole in a glass or ceramic pot, use a masonry or glass-cutting drill bit. Cover the spot with several layers of masking tape before you begin to drill.

Container Watering Tips

Watering techniques for containerised plants vary widely depending on the plant, but there are a few general rules of thumb. Most plants benefit from deep watering so the roots have access to moisture. After watering, the pot is allowed to drain so the roots don't stand in muddy potting soil. Deep watering also washes any fertiliser or hard water deposits through the drainage hole. Some plants, such as cactus, prefer the potting soil to dry completely between watering, but most plants are watered when the top 1/2 to 1 inch of soil feels dry. Most benefit from room temperature or lukewarm water and in many cases it is best to keep the foliage dry.

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