How to improve potted plant drainage

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IIf you do not have an innate green thumb, but you do your best to care for a houseplant, you probably have more than a few plant tips required to remember. Chances are that you are well aware of the need to accommodate your plant’s position based on the lighting they need, and you probably even know that different plants require different irrigation plans. What you may not know is that without a proper drainage system, watering your potted plant, even the correct amount, can lead to withered, yellowing leaves. And let’s be honest, it can feel downright confusing – not to mention frustrating – when it feels like you’re doing everything in your plant’s best interest.

With that in mind – and in an effort to help you stress a little less about the plants in your home – we talked to two plant experts on how to improve drainage for pots. Good news: It’s easier than you think.

Why is drainage important for potted plants?

It’s simple: Plants need water to survive, but according to plant expert Kaylyn Hewitt, the lead florist for The Bouqs Co., most plants cannot tolerate moist soil for long periods of time. That’s why many (but not all) pots come with drain holes.

“Drainage holes allow your plant to receive the water it needs, while making sure all excess water does not sit in the pot and cause your roots to rot,” she explains. “They also help slow down any overwatering that may happen.” Although drainage holes will not completely mitigate the effects of overwatering, Hweitt says they temper the amount of water your plant actually absorbs.

While it’s the topic of water, Bloomscape gardening expert Lindsay Pangborn wants to reiterate that watering deeply and thoroughly is a best practice for happy plants, as it encourages growth throughout the pot. “But without a drainage hole, it is impossible to achieve deep watering without drowning your plant,” she explains. “Spices with a drain hole make it easy to water your plant thoroughly every time without fear of them suffering from root rot.”

Another advantage of drainage holes in pots

In addition to acting as an outlet for excess water, Pangborn says drainage holes also make it easy to monitor the root conditions of your plant. “If roots begin to grow through the hole in the bottom of the pot, it may indicate the need for a larger pot as the plant continues to grow,” she explains. “If the water flows quickly through the pot, it may be an indication that the soil-to-root ratio is too low (meaning that there is not enough potting soil to support the roots properly) and the plant may benefit from ompotte. “

How to drill a drain hole in ceramic and terracotta pots:

What to do if your pot does not have a hole – or if you do not want to drill one

Point blank: Drainage holes are essential. If your pot does not have one, there are plenty of videos on YouTube that show you how to safely and efficiently drill one in the bottom of your pot. Still, if you are drilling into a fragile object (like terracotta or pottery), be especially careful not to crush the pot and accidentally cut yourself in the process.

On the other hand, if you do not want to drill a hole in your pot for fear of breaking it (something that Hewitt says she may relate to), you have another option. “Use a cheap planter (my go-to is terracotta) with a drain hole, and then place it in your decorative pot,” she says.

The main reason why it is so important to improve drainage for pots is because root rot can quickly kill a plant. So if your goal is to keep your plants alive as long as possible, it is important to know how to identify root rot in the first place.

“When root rot occurs, it means that the plant’s roots are damaged to the point that they cannot function properly, which is why some signs of overwatering are so reminiscent of signs of underwatering,” says Pangborn. “You can identify rotting roots by checking for black or brown spots on the leaves, often with yellow edges. Yellow or wilting leaves can be another sign of root rot – if the soil is moist but the leaves are withering, it is a sign that the roots are not working properly. ”

If you find that your plant is suffering from a case of root rot, do not panic – at least not immediately. If the root rot is not too extensive, Pangborn says the plant can be treated. “Lift the plant out of its pot, carefully remove the soil, and trim all the rotting roots with a few sharp snippets,” she instructs. “Since the size of the root system will be reduced, you will also need to remove a proportionate amount of top growth (so if you remove about ⅓ of the roots, you will need to remove about ⅓ of the leaves and stems).” Once you have done that, Pangborn says you should repot the plant in fresh potting soil, water sparingly and keep the plant in bright but indirect light. “Further watering should not be necessary until new growth appears.”

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