How to Plant in a Pot With no Holes


Good drainage is crucial for the survival of any type of potted plant. Fortunately, clay or plastic planting containers usually come with at least one drainage hole in the bottom. However, decorative containers made of ceramic, wood, copper or brass are constructed without drainage holes. When you just can't resist using an attractive container that has no bottom drainage, extra steps are necessary to prevent the plant from suffering from root rot.

Step 1

Use a smaller container with a drainage hole to hold the plant, then place the smaller container in the larger pot with no drainage hole. Never allow the smaller pot to sit in water and be sure to empty any water that remains in the bottom of the larger container after watering. Use styrofoam peanuts to lift the height of the inner container if necessary.

Step 2

Water the plant carefully if you choose to plant directly in the container with no drainage. Pour a small amount of water slowly into the container and allow it to soak into the soil. Once the water is absorbed, add more water. Once absorption slows, stop watering. Underwatering is always better than overwatering.

Step 3

Drain the excess water if you accidentally overwater the plant. Tip the container on its side and allow the water to drain out the top of the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Planting container with drainage holes (smaller than the pot with no holes)
  • Styrofoam peanuts (optional)


  • Oklahoma State University: Houseplant Care
  • Oregon State University: Good Drainage Crucial to Any Potted Plant
Keywords: drainage holes, clay pot gardening, bottom drainage

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.