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How to Plant in a Pot Without Drainage Holes

by Magnolia
Published on March 7, 2019

Whether your potted plants are indoors or outdoors, proper drainage is an essential element to ensure they stay healthy. This process keeps water from pooling at the base of the pot, which can cause bacteria, fungus and root rot.

If you find that your favorite pot doesn’t have a hole in the bottom for drainage, we have good news: almost any container can become a happy home for a plant! We’re going to show you how your favorites can stay healthy, no matter the vessel.

We chose this glass jar for a small Swedish ivy plant. We wanted to use a clear container for our example so that you can easily see the layers throughout the process.

Here’s what you’ll need:

+ A container or pot
+ Landscape rocks—we used gray marble rocks
+ Horticultural charcoal
+ Potting soil

These items can all be found at your local greenhouse or garden center at a home improvement store.


Layer the landscape rocks at the bottom of your vessel of choice, evenly covering the base and filling it about 2-3 inches high.


For the second layer, sprinkle horticultural charcoal on top of the rocks. This will be a thinner layer than the first, allowing the tops of the rocks to show through. The charcoal assists in draining, absorbs excess moisture, conditions the soil and adds nutrients for plant roots. Plus, it serves as a natural filter to deter odor-causing bacteria.


For the third layer, start by filling with potting soil about half way up the vessel. From there, determine if more soil is needed based on the size of your plant. A larger plant will need a larger amount to establish its root system.


Gently shake the excess soil off when transferring your plant from one vessel to the other, being careful not damage its roots. Place the plant directly into the new vessel.


Begin to fill the empty areas around the roots of the plant with more soil, pressing down to make sure the plant is set firmly in the soil, and is not loose or flimsy. Ensure all roots are covered by soil and none are exposed before moving on to the next step.

Now your plant is ready to be watered—and even though the plant now has proper drainage, you still want to be sure not to overwater it. When buying a new plant, ask a local greenhouse or garden center for proper care instructions.

For larger plants, repeat this same process, but add a larger amount of material per layer to tailor to the specific vessel you choose.

Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram to show us what you’ve come up with—happy planting!

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