Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Plant in a Pot With no Holes

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017
Containers with no drainage holes can be used to hold plants if proper precautions are followed.
alcazar image by Randi Utnes from Fotolia.com

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.

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.

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.

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 Will Need

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


  • Avoid trying to correct the lack of a drainage hole by putting gravel or pebbles in the bottom of the container. Gravel will actually slow the transfer of water through the soil.

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.