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How Many Drain Holes Does a Flower Pot Need?

By Julie Christensen ; Updated September 21, 2017
The larger the pot, the larger the drainage hole should be.
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Attractive pots and containers allow gardeners to grow flowers, vegetables and even shrubs and small trees on patios, decks or indoors. Without proper drainage, plants can't access oxygen and eventually rot and die. Select pots with at least one drainage hole or add one yourself.

Drainage Holes

To improve drainage and plant health, look for pots with at least one drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. If the pot doesn't have a hole you may be able to drill one. Clay or ceramic pots may crack when drilled, however.

Double Potting

If a decorative pot lacks a hole, another option to provide drainage is double potting. To double pot a plant, simply place the plant in a plastic container with adequate drainage. Then place the container inside the decorative pot. Remove the plant and container frequently, and dump any standing water out of the bottom of the decorative pot so the plant's roots don't remain wet.

Soil Type

In addition to drainage holes, proper soil mixtures are essential for plant health. Garden soils are too heavy and may cause plants in containers to rot. They also may contain diseases or insect pests. Instead, select a high-quality potting mix that contains vermiculite, perlite, compost or peat moss. These materials are lightweight and allow for good drainage. If you choose to use garden soil or a soil mix, select a pot with at least two or three drain holes. Lightweight vermiculite based soil mixes need fewer drain holes.

Pot Materials

The construction and size of the pot also determines how many drain holes you need. Clay pots are porous and tend to draw water out of the soil. They dry out quickly and plants grown in them require frequent watering. One drainage hole is usually sufficient. Wood containers are also porous and water may drain through cracks in the wood. Glazed terracotta pots are non-porous and hold water longer. Select terracotta pots with two or three holes, especially if the pots are large. One drainage hole is adequate for pots that are12 inches or smaller.


About the Author


Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."