When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

They are needed for your potted plants.

But drainage holes can leak out potting soil. So it’s best to cover them before planting.

You should cover drainage holes in pots with material that allows water to drain but prevents potting soil from leaching out. You should use materials such as broken terracotta pieces, newspaper, or leaves to cover the holes. Don’t use stones as they block the holes and prevent water from draining.

In this post, I’ll help you understand how to cover drainage holes in pots. I’ll explain the benefits of drainage holes, how to keep soil from washing out from them, and how to plant in pots without drainage holes.

Let’s get started.

Why are drainage holes important?

Drainage holes are important because they allow excess water to drain from the pots. If there are no drainage holes, the water will remain inside the pot and cause root rot. Drainage holes also prevent the growth of algae and mosses. 

If you’re new to plants, you may not have proper watering techniques established for each of your types of plants. Plants need water to grow, but some need more than others. Overwatering your plant could be its downfall.

Too Much Water

If you give a plant too much water, you could create an environment for mold, ruining your soil. You could damage the plant.

If your plant has yellowing, old leaves, and new leaves falling from the stem, you could be overwatering. Overwatering also causes wilting and rotted roots.

Drainage Holes

There is a higher risk of overwatering for houseplants or outdoor potted plants because the water can get stuck in the pot more easily. Standing water in your soil is not good for your plant because the roots need to absorb oxygen, and too much water prevents that. In a way, it’s as if your plant is drowning. 

This is why drainage holes are present on the bottom of most plant holders. By allowing the water to drain from the pot, the risk of suffocating the roots and harming your plant decreases significantly. 

How to keep soil from washing out of pots?

When planting, the drainage holes in the bottom may seem like an annoyance. As you fill the pots with soil, some of it spills out the bottom. You won’t lose too much dirt this way for the most part, but it can be a mess.

Cover the holes during watering

To avoid losing as much soil as possible during planting, use damp soil. It sticks together and won’t crumble and fall out of the bottom as easily. 

Or, just as easily, cover the hole with tape while planting, but remember to remove the tape so you can have good drainage.

Watering your soil before removing the tape will also help. Just get the soil moist enough to stick together. Don’t water it too much, or you’ll have a watery mess when you remove the tape. 

Drainage holes allow plant roots to get air. It is healthy for plants to be able to drain the water in their soil, and it helps prevent mold. The easiest way to keep soil from washing out is by placing a thin cloth on the bottom of your pot. This will allow the water to drain out but will stop the soil from washing out with it. – Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO, Lawn Love

Make the drainage holes smaller

Usually, the holes in the bottom of planters aren’t too big and don’t cause much of an issue, but sometimes they seem too big. While you can’t make the holes smaller, you can make it harder for dirt to come out of them. 

Maintaining proper drainage is essential, so don’t cover the holes entirely and permanently, but here are some ideas of how you can cover them:

  • Add a layer of mesh to the bottom of your planter before filling it. This will allow water through, but not bigger particles.
  • Use a coffee filter inside your pot. This will screen out the dirt for a while, but paper breaks down, so it may not last long term.
  • If you have old terracotta pots, recycle them and layer the bottom with broken pottery pieces.
  • Use rocks or gravel as a first layer. This will prevent dirt from spilling out and add more water drainage. 

The most common suggestion for covering drainage holes is a folded newspaper. Avoid using newspaper or any other folded and layered paper or fabric, especially in an outdoor setting.

Folded newspapers are wet and dark and create the perfect habitat for earwigs which can destroy your plants.

How to plant in a pot without drainage holes?

If you’ve found the perfect planter — it’s cute, it’s the right size, it matches your aesthetic — but it doesn’t have holes, what should you do? You can either create holes or create drainage differently. 

To create holes, you can take a power drill or a dremel and drill some holes in the bottom. If you don’t have access to power tools, hammering a nail into the bottom and pulling it out works as well.

Each pot is made of different materials, and some will be easier to put holes in than others. Be careful with any pottery or terracotta planters, as they are more prone to cracking and breaking. Some materials may not respond well to having holes punched in them, so keep that in mind as you look for planters or methods of making holes.

If you don’t have the means to put a hole in the bottom of your planter, there are other ways to create good drainage. The best way to create drainage is a layer of rocks in the bottom of the planter.

If you overwater the plant, the water will sit at the bottom of the rocks and won’t affect your plant roots or soil moisture. With this method, you need to make sure your pot is deep enough. If it’s too shallow, your plant won’t have enough room to root and face other growth issues.

Grow plants that prefer moist soil

There are exceptions to the rule, as always. Some plants thrive in wet conditions, and soil drainage isn’t as important. Bamboo, for example, thrives in constantly moist soil. Often bamboo is sold in pots without drainage holes that you can fill with water. 

Another is the sweet potato vine. These will live in only water for a long time. They will create long vines, but it’s best to plant them and ensure the soil is adequately drained if you want them to produce potatoes. 

On the other hand, some plants require very little water to survive. Cacti and succulents need only occasional watering and could live in a planter without drainage holes if proper watering is maintained.

Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.

Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.

Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.

Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.

TrowelGarden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers

Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.

To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.