Do I Need to Drill Holes in My Hanging Flower Baskets?

Updated February 21, 2017

Hanging baskets are an effective way to add vertical colour to your garden. Hang a basket from your porch roof or overhead arbor to brighten up a sitting area or hang one on a hook located outside your front door to make your entryway more inviting to guests. All hanging flower baskets need a way to drain water, but whether you need to drill holes in your basket depends on what type of basket you are using.


Drainage is critical to the health of the flowers in your hanging basket. If the water cannot drain, it will saturate the soil and the roots of your plant will end up soaking in water. This can lead to root rot, a fungal disease that destroys the roots of plants. Ironically, one of the symptoms of too much water is wilting plants. If your plants are wilting, check the soil. If it is very wet, your hanging flower basket is probably not draining well enough.


Hanging baskets are usually made of wire, plastic or wood. Wire baskets drain the easiest, as they naturally contain drainage holes and are usually lined with porous moss. Wooden and plastic baskets, on the other hand, need a way to drain. Most commercially made flower baskets have holes already pre-drilled in them. Baskets made of wood or plastic that do not have holes in their bottoms need to have holes drilled so that water can drain freely from them.


Small holes work best for draining because they do not allow soil to fall through. If your basket has large holes, place coffee filters over the holes to prevent sediment from leaking out. If your basket already has drainage holes but standing water still seems to be developing, check to make sure that the holes aren't clogged with rocks or roots. In some cases, you may have to drill a few more holes to help the basket drain better. If you don't have a drill, you can also use a hammer and nails to punch some holes in the bottom of the pot. This method works best with plastic pots.

Other Considerations

If you can't or don't want to add drainage holes to your hanging flower basket, consider double-potting the plant. Many plants come pre-planted in a thin plastic pot equipped with drainage holes. Slide this pot into a larger, more decorative pot, making sure that there is space left between the plastic pot and the decorative pot. In this way, water can drain from the plastic pot and pool into the bottom of the larger decorative pot. Note that you will have to occasionally remove the plastic pot and drain the decorative container to get rid of the standing water.

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