Why should Indoor Plant Pots have Drainage Holes?

indoor plant pot - lady potting a snake plant

Indoor plant pot drainage holes are crucial for the best growth of all plants. In this blog post we will be discussing the importance of drainage holes and the plant diseases or problems which arise from the lack of them. We'll also provide some tips for how to use plant pots wisely if they don't come with a drainage hole.

The need for an indoor plant pot drainage hole:

  1. Indoor plants are mostly kept inside so a drainage hole is imperative in this situation. These plants mostly don’t have proper sunlight and require a longer time to dry out than an outdoor plant. If an indoor plant lacks a drainage hole in this situation the drying time enhances and the plant faces waterlogging conditions quickly.
  2. The drainage hole flushes out the excess water. Because plants don’t like their roots to stand in water constantly, except for some of the aquatic plants. They get suffocated as the air pockets are closed by standing water. In this situation, they can’t exchange their gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) with air, and the development mechanism stops. As a result, the plant is exposed to different diseases or problems.
  3. The other reason why we need an indoor plant pot drainage hole is it prevents the accumulation of salts in the root zone. Mostly we use tap water and fertilizer that contain salts. If our pot lacks a drainage hole then the roots take the water and the salts are left out in the soil. With time the soil becomes concentrated and damages the plant. This salt is never removed if you lack a drainage hole because there is no way to flush it out.

Plant Pots for Succulent vs Other plants:

Succulents are desert plants which means they require very little water. They store water in their parts like stems and thick leaves. Being drought loving, their growth rate is best when they are placed in sunlight and have little water. They are prone to rotting from overwatering so drainage holes are recommended for them. When you notice the symptoms of root rot, it is usually already too late so it is good to take precautions and place the succulents in a pot with drainage holes.

With care, your average houseplant on the otherhand has a higher chance of survival in a pot without drainage holes as they can tolerate a little more prolonged moisture in the soil. However, a plant pot simply isn't natural for a plant, and having the roots immersed in water for a longed period of time if the water has nowhere else to go can mean trouble!

Diseases arise due to the lack of drainage hole:

A lack of drainage holes can lead to different diseases or problems with your plants. Here are some of them:

  1. Waterlogging

Waterlog conditions can be caused by overwatering which locks the exchange of gasses. The oxygen decreases or loses its place due to the accumulation of water in the pot and soil. The signs of waterlogging are frequent wilting of the plant.

  1. Root rot

Root rot arises due to the wet or damp condition of the soil. From this, the roots start decaying with the wilting of leaves. They turn yellow or may drop.

  1. Fungus gnats

Fungus gnats are a fly that mostly attacks indoor houseplants. They like the moisture of pot soil and love to lay eggs there.

  1. Overwatering

Indoor plants require less water than outdoor plants. Most of the time we overwater our plants unconsciously. The first sign is a greenish layer formed on the upper surface of the soil... or pretty much when you see the soil is forever damp. Always check if the soil has dried before re-watering your plants.

  1. Salty conditions

Due to fertiliser and tap water, salts accumulate in the potting soil. As a result, the soil becomes concentrated. The edges of leaves turn brown or a whitish color appears on the surface of the soil.

What to do if my indoor plant pot drainage hole is missing:

If the plant pot you purchased didn't come with a drainage hole, don't fret. There are some simple fixes to this:

  • If it is possible, drill some holes at the bottom of the pot. Several small holes are more recommended than a single large hole.
  • If drilling is not possible then use a small pot with a drainage hole for the plant and place that small pot into the nicer looking pot you want to display. You would have to remove the water daily if it starts pooling. With this method, you can still use your decorative pot - this is also called ‘’double potting’’.
  • When you've drilled holes into the base of your pot, you can use a plant saucer to catch the water after it drains out. It is similar to using the double potting technique so remove the water daily. If you don’t feel comfortable with it then you can water the plant pot in the kitchen sink and place it back on the plant saucer after it drains.


A plant pot or container with a drainage hole is highly recommended for the healthy development of all types of plants. It's not 100% necessary depending on the situation and if you know what you're doing, but having a drainage hole largely reduces the risk of losing your plants. A major reason for the poor growth or death of plants is the lack of drainage holes, so try to protect your plants by choosing indoor plant pots that have drainage holes - or just use the "double potting" method to broaden your plant pot options!

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