Houseplants: Using Pots & Containers Without Drainage

As we discussed in our blog post Caring for Houseplants In Winter, you should wait until Spring to consider repotting your indoor houseplants. This is because your plants are more likely to be able to recover from the change during their growing season. But like me, I bet many of you have been chomping at the bit to get going. I have had an especially difficult time waiting because our team has brought in a great selection of gorgeous pots. We have so many styles and colours, that it has been a difficult choice!

My Heart Leaf Philodendron who is going to be replanted into this terracotta pot without drainage holes.

Many of our new pots do not have drainage holes, which is fantastic for indoor plants and protecting your surfaces from water spots. However this can be problematic if you don't know what steps to take to ensure proper drainage for your plants in such pots. In this blog post we are going to show you which steps to take to use these great pots while keeping your plants happy and healthy.

Materials Needed:

  1. Pro Mix Indoor Potting Soil

  2. Container 1"-2" larger than the plants existing pot (eg. 4" plant should be potted in a 6" pot)

  3. Plant of your choice

  4. Fine gravel or aggregate

  5. Horticultural charcoal

  6. Schultz 10-15-10 Liquid Fertilizer

  7. Floral snips or scissors

  8. Sand or Pearlite *optional

Step 1

Set up your space with a sheet of plastic or paper to protect the surface your working on. Also gather your materials in one spot near by so you have easy access of them while working. You may also want to wear gloves at this point to protect your hands.

Step 2

Now is an excellent time to check on the health of your plant and look for any pests or signs of disease. Look for yellowing leaves, speckles on the tops and bottoms of leaves, hard brown bumps or soft white cottony bumps on the stems, flies or gnats etc. All of these signs can indicate a problem with fungus, Spider Mites, Scale, Mealy Bugs, fertilization problems and more. If you do discover any pests or disease our knowledgeable staff are always your best resource for all your plant care needs.

Check under the leaves for signs of pests.

Remove any dead foliage, yellowing leaves or other debris that may have collected on the surface of the soil. Next, gently hold your pot in one hand and tip it over into your other hand. If you plant doesn't slide out easily, you can squeeze the pot to encourage the roots to loosen.

Now inspect the roots of the plant. Are there any obviously dead roots? They will look mushy, dark brown and rotten. Remove these dead roots with clean floral snips or scissors, as they only attract pests and encourage fungus growth in your potting soil. If your plant appears to be quite root bound (meaning the roots were growing hard against the old container) gently tease or tickle the roots to loosen them. Don't go crazy or you're likely to hurt the plant. This will encourage the roots to spread into the new soil.

Check the health of your plants roots.

Step 3

I recommend that you remove all the tags and labels now, as it is always annoying to try and pick off sticky label residue while keeping your newly potted plant upright. Rinse your pot out or give it a scrub with water to remove any old soil if you are reusing an older plant pot.

Step 4

Preparing your pot for planting is very easy, but providing drainage for a plant potted in a container without drainage is important and shouldn't be over looked. Take several handfuls of your gravel or aggregate and line the bottom of your pot. Depending on the depth of the container, it is recommended that you create a 1/2" to 1" to even 2" (if a large container) bed of gravel. This ensures that any excess water can be wicked away from the roots of the roots.

Added Aggregate.

Step 5

Next take a handful or two of your horticultural charcoal and create a thin layer over the gravel. Charcoal is both antibacterial and absorbent and therefore is a great way to prevent odours from standing water.

Added charcoal.