Drainage Holes on Sides of Plant Pots: Are They Worth It?

We went into great length on how adding drainage holes to the edges of a plant pot might impact the health and development of your plant.

Drainage Holes on Sides of Plant Pots

Making holes in a plant pot’s sidewalls enhances plant aeration and water drainage. There should be four to eight holes, each with a diameter of one closer to the saucer’s base. Smaller holes ensure that less dirt is lost and that the soil continues to drain properly.

We will go into further detail in this post about various considerations to keep in mind while drilling holes into the sides of pots, such as excessive drainage and soil loss.

In order to ensure that your plants grow even healthier, this article outlines the advantages of adding drainage holes to the side of pots and how to accomplish it.

Should You Place Holes on The Side of a Plant Pot?

Water, nutrients, air, and sunlight are the elements that are essential to a plant’s survival. The typical development patterns and survival mechanisms of plants depend on both water and air.

To assist you better understand the purposes of the holes on the pot sides, we have provided a detailed explanation of how they improve drainage and aeration.

Improve Drainage

A plant container’s drainage system can be made better by drilling holes into the sides of the pot.

A plant needs the right amount of soil moisture and hydration to flourish properly. Overwatering, however, has even been known to kill some plants.

Particularly vulnerable to overwatering issues and eventual death are plants kept in pots without drainage holes.

Root rot and stem rot are two examples of the root issues that can kill a plant.

Sometimes, the pot’s single drainage hole is insufficient to provide proper drainage. Some plants are particularly vulnerable to issues with overwatering.

To ensure that the surplus water never comes up and floods the plant stem or soil mixture, add a few extra drainage holes to the sides of your pot.

Improve Aeration

The two most important functions carried out by plants are photosynthesis and respiration. Both procedures rely on plants receiving enough oxygen.

Therefore, photosynthesis and respiration cannot occur if the plant does not receive adequate oxygen.

More air will be able to pass through these holes and reach the roots of your plants if you drill holes in the sides of the pot. Additionally, adequate aeration will increase plant nutrient and water uptake.

Lack of aeration can have a significant impact on plant root growth. Your plants’ roots won’t expand normally, and the plant’s growth will be skewed.

It may also have an impact on leaf elongation and shoot fresh weight (size). It’s possible for your plant to develop smaller leaves and branches.

Additionally, all of a plant’s live cells, including the roots, respire just like other living things do.

To turn stored sugar into energy that the plant’s cells can use, respiration must take place in the presence of oxygen.

The plant’s cells will starve for energy and perish if there is no way for air to enter the plant pot and store oxygen around the roots.

An easy way to allow air to readily enter a plant pot, reach the roots, and offer loads of oxygen is to drill holes into the sides of the pot.

What Are The Downsides of Placing Holes on The Side of a Plant Pot?

There are good and bad sides to every photograph. Similar drawbacks apply to drilling holes in a plant pot’s side.

Too Much Drainage: (less water retention)

Your plant will suffer from excessive drainage and water loss if your plant pot has multiple holes drilled into the sides. Too draining signifies:

  • Roots won’t be able to grow correctly since the water won’t be able to reach them.
  • Plants cannot draw nutrients from the earth through their roots.

Even before the water reaches the roots at the bottom of the pot, you’ll observe it trickling from the holes at the sides of the pot.

A shortage of nitrogen from the soil may cause certain leaves to turn yellow over time. Your potting soil at the bottom could begin to dry out and eventually tighten up or dry out.

As a result of the roots being unable to absorb enough water prior to the water swiftly draining out of the pot altogether, excessive drainage can also cause some branches or stems to die back and decolonize the soil.

See our in-depth article for more information on how long soil should be wet after irrigation.

Why Do Plant Pots Need Holes and What Size is Ideal?

Water can pass through drainage holes in the ground and essentially escape through the bottom. Drainage holes facilitate a quicker drying of your soil.

They will stop root rot from occurring, which is crucial for the health of your plants.

The most common issue faced by newcomers to growing succulents is root rot. Your planters will become overwatered if they don’t have drainage holes, which could damage the roots of your plants.

Not all plants want to be submerged in water constantly.

If there are no drainage holes, extra water will cover the air pockets, making it impossible for oxygen and carbon dioxide to exchange.

How Can You Create Drainage Holes On Your Own?

A drill, hammer, or a big nail can be used to make drainage holes. However, the size of the pores is an important consideration for effective drainage.

Typically, a hole with a diameter of 1 inch works well as a starting point. The size of the container you’re using determines how many holes should be present in one pot.

A larger pot will undoubtedly require additional drainage holes.

Larger pots can grow larger plants, but they come with a price. Visit our article describing why to see why.

In general, 5 holes per square foot are sufficient. By placing a layer of newspaper at the bottom of the pot, you can address any concerns you have regarding soil loss from the drainage holes.

Along with the newspaper, adding a layer of gravel to the bottom of your plant container can aid in preventing soil from leaking out of bigger holes.

Always keep in mind that having too many drainage holes can cause the pot to drain too much.

The sides of your plant pots might have three, four, or eight 1-inch holes drilled into them.

However, you can add a few holes if water doesn’t permeate the sidewalls very well. Ideally, three holes are sufficient for proper drainage.

Minimize The Mess From Side Holes With a Saucer:

Try using a saucer to reduce the water or waste problem caused by the side holes.

Typically used with plant pots or containers, plant saucers are used to collect and keep extra water that has drained out of the plant after it has been watered.

See this post for information on draining a plant saucer of extra water.

Plant pots with holes on the sides allow for adequate water absorption into the soil and runoff from the holes.

When watering the plant, using saucers on these plant pots will avoid a messy situation.

Every time you water your plants, extra water drains into the saucer through additional holes on the sides.

The saucer will prevent the spilled water from ruining the floor. You could also just empty the saucer’s water.

You can uphold your home’s standards of cleanliness by taking the extra water out of the saucer. Without a plant saucer, water may spill onto your floor and smear your carpets.

By establishing a water barrier between sneaky pests and your plants, saucers not only reduce the water mess but also shield your plants from damage from ants.

The soil combination and foliage of your plants can suffer severe harm from insects. Bugs, spider mites, and other insects can find food in plant leaves.


How many drainage holes are in a wooden planter?

One quarter-inch-diameter hole is required for a single-sized planter, whereas four identically sized holes are required for a regular rectangular planter.

Should outdoor planters have drainage holes?

In order to keep your potted plants healthy, whether they are indoor or outdoor, appropriate drainage is crucial. This procedure prevents water from collecting at the pot’s base, where it may breed bacteria, fungi, and root rot.

Where should drainage holes be in a planter?

For proper drainage, the planter’s bottom must have holes. The holes allow the extra water to drain, preventing it from standing in the soil. Numerous flower pots just have one drainage hole. Others have absolutely no holes.

How many drainage holes does a planter need?

The sides of your plant pots might have three, four, or eight 1-inch holes drilled into them. However, you can add a few holes if water doesn’t permeate the sidewalls very well. Ideally, three holes are sufficient for proper drainage.

Do all planters need drainage holes?

What Justifies Drain Holes in Pots? Plant roots don’t prefer to stay in water, with the exception of a few aquatic species. They must exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen with the surrounding air, because too much water seals up the soil’s air spaces. Without drainage holes, plants in containers are more likely to become overwatered.