How to Capture Drainage Water From a Large Pot


Planters must have drainage holes in the bottom so the soil doesn't become too soggy and drown the roots of the plant. Large planters pose a problem because they may not have drip trays to catch the draining water, or they are too heavy to move to empty the trays. Letting them drain freely leads to wet spots on patios that are unattractive, may lead to mold growth or may cause staining from fertilizer salts in the water. Creating a drainage system for the large planters to capture the water prevents these issues.

Step 1

Measure the width of the container and add 4 inches to the measurement to determine the size of drip tray needed. Measure round containers across the widest part to find the measurement.

Step 2

Purchase a separate drip tray from a garden center that fits the required measurement. Alternatively, use a water heater tray for large pots or a large plastic serving tray for small pots. Wheeled plant carts with attached drip trays are also available from garden centers and make planters easier to move.

Step 3

Set the planter on top the drip tray. If possible, do this before adding the soil and plants to the planter. Otherwise, have someone help you lift the heavy planter.

Step 4

Water the plant as the soil surface begins to dry. Add water until it begins dripping out of the bottom drainage holes and into the drip tray.

Step 5

Use a clean turkey baster to suck the water out of the drip tray. Squeeze the water into a watering can and use it on other plants or in the garden. Most of the excess water will drain from the planter within 30 minutes of watering.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use a new, clean turkey baster and set it aside for use only in the garden. Otherwise, soil pathogens may be transferred to your kitchen and vice versa.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Drip tray
  • Turkey baster


  • Colorado State University Extension: Container Gardens
Keywords: collecting water from planter, large planter watering technique, drip trays

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.