Planter with drainage tray

Planter with drainage tray DEFAULT

Successful Container Gardens

Drainage Is Critical to Plant Health

A hole at the bottom of the container is critical. It allows water in the soil to drain freely so adequate air is available for the roots. While various kinds of plants have differing drainage needs, few can tolerate sitting in stagnate water. Healthy roots mean healthier plants. So be sure there are holes for drainage. Shoreline plants love wet soil, so if the pot does not drain, consider using them. See the water gardening section for more information.

Wet soils favorroot rot, because they leave little space for air to get to the roots. Plants rarely recover from root rot. More information on root rot:

If the pot does not come with a hole in it, figure out a way to make a hole. One way is to drill one. Some decorative resin or plastic pots have pre-punched holes at the bottom for easy removal. Generally, very little soil falls through the hole. To keep soil from falling through large drainage holes some folks use a coffee filter paper over the hole, though this is not necessary. Small holes in the bottom of the pot allow the water to drain out and very little soil media is lost.

Sometimes a plant is already planted in a pot with no drainage at all. The best solution in this case is to take it to a sink, water it, then after a few minutes turn it on its side for a minute or two to let excess water drain out.


Beware of pots with permanently attached saucers where emptying the overflow is difficult or impossible. I learned this the hard way when my basil leaves turned black because the roots were waterlogged - the result of a permanently attached saucer. Drainage of excess water is vital for the health of plant roots. It is much better to use a pot with a detachable saucer. Be sure to empty the excess water so soils have an opportunity to dry out somewhat.

Double potting

Slipping a container inside a slightly larger one is called double potting. When double potting is used, the plants grow in a pot liner. Often this is a plain plastic pot. This allows you to slip the pot liner in or out of the decorative container without disturbing the plant roots. Check to be sure that the plants in the pot liner never stand in water (unless you have aquatic plants) If water accumulates in the bottom of the larger container, remove the inside pot and drain the water from the outside pot. Place gravel in the bottom of the outer pot if the decorative pot is deep enough. A little excess water can accumulate in the gravel without the plant roots having to stand in water.

Double potting techniques may be used:

  • to overcome the problem of no drainage hole in an attractive decorative pot;
  • to quickly change seasonal displays;
  • to combine plants with different environmental requirements;
  • to minimize extreme soil temperature fluctuations;
  • to keep desirable but invasive plants from spreading.

Skip the gravel inside the bottom of individual or pot liners

It is a myth that a layer of gravel (inside the bottom of an individual pot) beneath the soil improves container drainage. Instead of extra water draining immediately into the gravel, the water "perches" or gathers in the soil just above the gravel. The water gathers until no air space is left. Once all the available soil air space fills up, then excess water drains into the gravel below. So gravel in the bottom does little to keep soil above it from being saturated by overwatering.

Damp gravel placed in a saucer underneath the pot may help by increasing the humidity in the immediate area of the plants as the water evaporates from the gravel surfaces.

More info about gravel in bottom of a pot can be found at:

Self-watering pots

Self-watering pots use various methods to effectively draw water from a bottom reservoir into the soil without causing the soil to become too wet. Water may be drawn up into the soil by capillary action (or wicking) through small soil columns, rope wicks, or the use of moisture sensors. Self-watering containers are especially useful for weekend cottages and people who do not have time to check water needs daily.

Consistently available water is great for vegetables, and tropical houseplants. Imagine a dozen stalks of sweet corn producing ears on your patio in a self -watering container like the Earth Box™. Plants that need to dry out like thick-leaved cactus and succulents do not usually warrant the extra cost of a self-watering container.

For more information, use a web search engine using the keywords "self-watering planter" or "self-watering container" or "earth box."

Decorative pots and wraps without drainage holes. Sometimes you fall in love with a wonderful container that has no drainage hole. This would be the perfect time to find a pot liner to fit inside so both you and the plants are happy. In addition to decorative pots, decorative foil or plastic pot wraps are a form of double potting. The wrap keeps water from leaking out where it is not wanted. To protect the plant from becoming prone to root rot, pierce a hole in the bottom of the wrapper or foil. Then place the container on a saucer. Or, take the container to a sink, remove the wrapper, and then water. Let the water drain freely out the holes in the bottom of the pot. After the pot finishes draining, replace the wrapper.

Changing seasonal displays. Double potting makes changing out seasonal plants a breeze. Fresh plants are easily rotated in and tired ones out of a large landscape container holding multiple plants. Double potting makes it possible to sink individual potted plants into the landscape (or remove them) without disturbing the roots.

Combining plants with differing requirements. Plants that have different soil drainage (aeration) requirements can be combined in a landscape planter if they are in their own separate pots. This allows different watering practices for each plant. On the other hand, if there is not enough light, two sets of plants can be used. As individual plants begin to decline, rotate them back to a higher-light nursery. Replace them with healthy plants. It is less work to choose plants with similar environmental needs or ones well adapted to conditions available. However, this is not always possible.

Reducing fluctuation of soil temperature. Roots are generally more susceptible to cold damage than stems and leaves. When overwintering an otherwise hardy plant, sink the potted plant into the ground. Then mulch over the soil with wood chips, soil or other material to help it survive winter. The soil temperature underground does not fluctuate like container soil which is exposed to wind and extremes of temperature.

Restraining invasive plants. Some plants are attractive, but spread invasively by underground roots. They invade space that does not belong to them. For example, most people love mints for their fragrance and culinary uses, but they can spread aggressively in the garden. Sink a large pot into the ground. Then place the invasive mint in a slightly smaller pot liner. This limits the spread of the roots.

More Information on Choosing a Container


Ideas for Planter Drip Trays

So often containers for houseplants and patio plants don't come with drip trays. The dilemma is then how to water plants without staining floors and furniture. Often the weight of plant and soil plus container is too heavy to allow removing the potted plant to a sink or area that drainage water won't damage each time the plant needs watering.

You can purchase an appropriate-sized drip tray if appearance is important. Another approach is to find inexpensive items at stores and thrift shops that can be modified for drip trays, or recycle things from around the house. Make sure the item holds water without leaking.

Purchased Drip Trays

Many home and garden shops sell a wide variety of drip trays in different dimensions, colors and finishes. Online shopping is also an option. You can try for a close match to the color and finish of the existing pot or choose a clear plastic product that blends in with anything. The drip tray needs to be 1 to 2 inches larger than the pot it will serve.

It is also a good idea for the plant drip tray to have some mechanism -- such as built-in ridges or bumps -- to raise the container off the bottom of the drip tray. This allows room for runoff water to accumulate without having the pot sit directly in water for a length of time -- not a healthy situation for plant roots. The University of Illinois Extension warns against using trays that aren't detachable, as emptying water overflow becomes much more difficult.

Drip Tray Alternatives

Leakproof pans or trays meant for other purposes can serve as drip trays for container gardening. For really big container plants, water heater pans come in several sizes. Usually in utilitarian colors, the outsides can be painted to match your decor. Look for round and rectangular galvanized metal or plastic pans and containers used for changing oil or for garage drip pans under car engines.

For larger drip trays, put some bricks or tiles under plant containers to raise them off the bottom. Heavy plastic mortar tubs or lighter weight cat litter pans are good pebble tray candidates to house a collection of plants with similar cultural requirements. Provide a layer of washed rocks or gravel for the pots to sit on.

Drip Trays From Recycled Items

Saucers, plates and shallow bowls can all be repurposed as a plant drip tray. Adapt shallow baskets for drip trays by lining them with heavy plastic sheeting that is stapled to the basket's inside rim. Bakery or delicatessen containers often have either tops or bottoms that can be used as drip trays. Similarly trim down cleaned plastic soda or water bottles to use under smaller pots.

Plastic refrigerator storage containers that have lost their lids make a cheap alternative to plant saucers. Some premade pie crusts or purchased pies have sturdy pie plates that make good drip trays for single containers.

Drip Trays for Hanging Baskets

Although many plastic hanging baskets come with a drip tray, these are often shallow and don't hold enough of the runoff. According to the Laidback Gardener, there are larger clamp-on plastic drip trays that are commercially available. Or outfit a decorative container without drainage holes for hanging and insert a potted plant within it, raising the plant off the container bottom with plastic foam peanuts or packed sphagnum moss so the top of the pot is level with the top of the decorative container.

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Planters and various containers are an essential component of gardening. Whether it’s indoor or outdoor gardening, a planter full of color is a welcoming sight. Large planters provide an exceptionally impressive display. It’s important to ensure that your planters have drainage holes to prevent root rot.

Your options are endless for what you can fill planters with, including palm trees, bamboo, canna lily, hibiscus, feather grasses, petunias, and more. Get creative with your large planter combinations. 

House plant next to a window in a beautifully designed interior, 15 Large Plant Pots With Drainage Holes

A large plant pot arrangement to consider is the thriller-filler-spiller combination. In this combination, a thriller plant is something that’s upright and bold, the filler plant (or plants) is something that’s full of foliage or flowers and complements the thriller, and the spiller is something that gracefully tumbles out of the pot. With this combination, you won’t be disappointed. 

Now that you’re dreaming of all the ways to fill a large planter, let’s discover 15 large plant pots with drainage holes!  

1. Sunnydaze Ceramic Pot

Beauty and durability are the two key characteristics of this large pot. The pot is hand-painted and completed with a gorgeous glazed finish. The diameter of the opening measures 15 inches and it’s 12.5 inches tall. It’s perfect for the outdoors because it is both UV and frost-resistant. 

There are three 1-inch drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. It has a 2.73-gallon soil capacity. The planter weighs just over 19 pounds, so it’s sure to stay in place. 

Click here to see more on Amazon.

2. Set Of 3 Wooden Barrel Planters

There’s no lack of size diversity with this set of three wooden barrel planters. You can create an excellent trio of stunning color-filled planters. The half-barrel planters provide a charming rustic feeling to the space.

All three planters are crafted from durable stain-resistant wood with strong metal bands that prevent shrinkage.  The large barrel has an 18-inch diameter, the medium barrel has a 15-inch diameter, and the small barrel has an 11.5-inch diameter. There’s a drainage hole on the bottom of each planter.

Click here to see more on

3. Tall White Planter

Make an impact on your garden design with this tall white honeycomb-textured planter. It’s minimalistic yet intriguing at the same time. The planter is crafted from recyclable plastic and natural stone powder. It measures 20 inches tall and has an opening diameter of 13.8 inches. A built-in drainage tray helps maintain the health of your plants. 

Click here to see more on Amazon.

4. Sonora Resin Wicker Planters

Create even more of a visual impact with a set of these Sonota resin wicker planters. The java-colored resin wicker matches well with a wide variety of locations around the garden. Because of their lightweight construction, these planters are easy to move around.

The planters are finished with a UV-resistant coat to prevent the color from fading. There is a drillable drainage hole on the bottom. Each planter has a 22-inch diameter and measures 20 inches tall. 

Click here to see more on Amazon.

5. Blue Tufted Planter

This blue tufted planter packs a colorful punch. The planter features an oceanic color ombre and a unique, textured pattern. It’s crafted from recycled polyresin materials, making it both durable and lightweight. It looks like a ceramic planter, but without the associated weight.

It’s coated with a UV-resistant coat to prevent the color from fading. The bottom of the planter has knock-out drainage holes. It has a 14.6-inch diameter and measures 11.3 inches tall. 

Click here to see more on

6. Tall Copper Planter

Copper colors catch the light (and attention) like no other. This planter is made from rust-resistant stainless steel and is finished with an antique copper coat. This planter includes two components: an insert with drainage holes and the exterior portion. Because of the insert, it’s easy to add weight to the bottom of the planter if needed.

The opening diameter is approximately 15 square inches and its height is 33 inches. This planter is built to last.

Click here to see more on Amazon.

7. Gray Fiberglass Planter

Outfit your garden with this timeless gray fiberglass planter. The minimalistic aesthetic guarantees that it will work in virtually any location. It has a coat of UV-resistant paint so it won’t fade. 

The planter’s fiberglass construction makes it durable, long-lasting, and lightweight. It measures 32.5 inches tall and has a diameter of 24 inches. There are drainage holes on the bottom.

Click here to see more on Amazon.

8. Set Of 2 Beige Planters

The neutral beige color of these planters helps spotlight their contents. They have subtle elegance with the ribbed pattern that runs horizontally around them. They’re made from a polyresin material that’s UV-resistant. Their double-walled design insulates the roots well and allows you to fill the walls with sand or gravel to weigh them down.  

Each planter has a 16-inch opening diameter and measures 14 inches tall. A drainage hole can be drilled into the bottom of each planter in the designated location. 

Click here to see more on

9. Rustic Metal Urn Pot

Add some rustic chic design to your garden with this rustic metal urn pot. It’s crafted from weather-resistant steel that has a unique weathered look from its rust-patina finish.

It has an opening diameter of 15.75 inches and stands 18 inches high. The bottom of the planter features a removable drainage plug. 

Click here to see more on Amazon.

10. Set Of 2 Resin Wicker Pots

The wicker look of these resin pots adds a certain charm to the garden area. The planters have a nice subtle fluted opening. The resin construction makes this set of planters durable and easy to maintain. You won’t have to worry about cracking or peeling.

Each planter has an opening diameter of 21 inches and measures 19 inches tall. These planters have an impressive 15-gallon soil capacity. There are optional drainage plugs located on the bottom of each planter. 

Click here to see more on Amazon.

11. Arabella Pot

Complement the contents of your pot with the decorative Arabella pot. Its polyresin construction is designed to resist UV rays as well as cracking from colder temperatures. Its hand-painted finish gives the planter its unique coloring. The double-walled design of this planter insulates the roots and protects them from temperature extremes. 

This planter has a 20-inch opening diameter and measures 17 inches tall. Drainage holes can be added to the bottom of the planter with a drill. There are already designated spots to do so.

Click here to see more on Amazon.

12. Set Of 4 Grey Finish Pots

Do you love the look of concrete planters but not the weight and price tag? Well, you’re in luck. These four grey finish pots will do the trick. They’re crafted from durable polyresin that looks like your favorite concrete planters. They’re lightweight and easy to transport. The finish of the pots makes them UV ray-resistant and able to withstand temperature changes without cracking.

The pots have an opening diameter of 24 inches and measure 19 inches tall. The double-walled construction insulates the roots and makes it possible to weigh the pots down with sand or gravel. Drainage holes can be drilled into the designated spots on the bottom.

Click here to see more on

13. Fairfield Patio Planter

The New England design of this square planter adds a beautiful aesthetic to the area where it’s placed. It’s built to be weather-proof and stand the test of time. It features a UV-resistant top coat to ensure it won’t fade in the sunlight. The planter’s double-walled design creates a water reservoir. 

This resin square planter has an opening diameter of 20 inches and stands 20 inches tall. Enjoy this planter throughout the changing seasons. 

Click here to see more on Amazon.

14. Ceramic Square Planter

This ceramic square planter brings a touch of artistic beauty with it. The white ceramic has a playful black floral design covering its exterior sides. There is a central drainage hole at the bottom of the planter to promote root health. 

This planter has an opening diameter of nearly 14 inches and stands 19.5 inches tall. If you order more than one, their colors may be slightly different since they’re handcrafted.

Click here to see more on

15. Resin Whiskey Barrel Planter

Get that well-loved wooden aesthetic with this resin whiskey barrel planter. You won’t have to worry about splintering, fading, and shrinkage that’s common in wood planters. The details are immaculate—there’s a distinct oak woodgrain appearance with antique pewter-looking bands. Resin construction makes this planter UV ray-resistant, fade-resistant, and lightweight. 

Its opening diameter is 20.5 inches and it stands 12.5 inches tall. It has drainage holes on the bottom to ensure plant health.

Click here to see more on Amazon.

Let us know in the comment section below what types of plants you’re going to fill your large planter with! Before you go, make sure to check out these other gardening guides:

16 Gardening Gift Baskets And Kits You Should See

Types Of Planters And Planting Pots

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What Is a Drainage Plate in a Planter?

By Rob Harris

Plates underneath your planters help catch excess water.

Many planters come with a plate you slide under the pot or attach to the bottom, while others have matching plates that are sold separately. These plates or saucers help catch water flowing out of the drainage holes so the water and any soil it carries won't end up on your furniture and floor or patio or porch.


A drainage plate is designed to catch water that flows out the bottom of your pot. Without a bottom plate, water can flow through the soil in your container and out the bottom drainage holes, leaking onto your planter shelf, table, flooring, patio or deck. This can stain and ruin these items -- the water usually brings a small amount of dirt with it, so it's not clean and clear. The drainage plate reduces the risk of water damage and staining by keeping the water directly under the pot and off the surface below.

Why Drainage Is Important

Pots that don't have drainage holes might seem like a safer alternative if you're worried about water damage and staining, but you're inviting root rot and other diseases without proper drainage. Even plants that need consistently moist soil need soil that drains; standing water can stagnate, become smelly, and host fungi and diseases that spread to the plant through the roots. Proper drainage allows excess water to leak out so the soil can hold just the right amount of moisture for your plants.

How to Use

Plates that are easy to remove are the best for drainage. Some plates attach to the bottom of the pot, making them difficult to remove. These plates hold the water too close to the soil, which sometimes defeats the purpose of allowing drainage. If you see water in the plate after watering your plant, remove the plate and dump the water outside; standing water can be wicked back into the soil and saturate the roots. Replace the plate and leave it under the pot at all times, except when you remove it briefly to dump the extra water.


If your favorite planter is one that doesn't have drainage holes and doesn't need a plate, there are a couple of ways to continue to use it without saturating your plants. Drilling a large or several smaller holes spaced out across the bottom can allow the pot to drain properly. Many home improvement and garden supply stores sell planter plates separately from the planters, so you can find one that fits the size of your pot. Also, you can place the plant in a smaller pot with drainage holes, then line the bottom of your favorite larger, nondraining pot with gravel. When you set the smaller pot inside, all you can see is the larger pot. The smaller pot drains into the larger one, separated from the drained water by gravel. You should still remove the smaller pot and dump the water from the larger one periodically so it doesn't stagnate.


Drainage planter tray with

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How to Make a Polymer Clay Planter with Hidden Drain Tray : DIY

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