Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Drain Potted Plants

Draining potted plants helps remove extra water from the soil, preventing diseases that thrive in stagnant wetness. Moisture can collect inside potted plants if extra water is unable to escape the planting chamber. Plastic pots are particularly prone to water buildup because the plastic often restricts air flow. Modifying planting containers so your potted plants can breathe is easy to do with a few household tools.

Determine what type of pot you have. Types of pots include plastic pots, ceramic pots, clay pots, metal pots or glass pots. If you have a metal or glass pot, it may be best to repot your plant in a container more suitable for drainage, such as one with pre-made drainage holes.

Determine what you need to do to put a hole in the bottom of the pot. If your pot is plastic, you can melt, cut, or poke a hole. If it is clay or ceramic, drill a hole in the pot.

Remove the plants from the plant pots if it will help reduce damage to the plant while you drill the hole. To remove a plant from its pot gently, dislodge the plant from the sides of the pot with a spade, then tip the pot to the side until the plant slowly slides out.

Gather the tools you need to put a hole in your plant pot and wear protective gloves and eye gear. If you will be melting a drainage hole in a plastic plant pot, use a soldering iron. For drilling holes, use a rotary tool with a small attachment to make a hole in any clay pots you may need to drain. Place a wide dish under the plant pot to catch drainage and protect your floor from runoff stains.

Make two or three holes on the bottom of the pots to allow for soil drainage. The holes should be large enough to allow flow for drainage, but not so large that the soil falls out of the pot; the holes are usually about the diameter of a cigarette.


If the soil is very wet in a pot you wish to drain, it may be better to carefully drill the drainage holes without removing the plant. Especially wet soil may crumble apart as the plant is removed from the pot, exposing it to potential root damage.


Read the manual for any power tools you use, and always wear protective gloves and eyewear as recommended by the tool manufacturer. Make sure your work area is dry and free of puddles which might increase the risk of electric shock.

Garden Guides