Although it is recommended that succulents be planted in containers with drainage holes, the truth is that there are impressive pots that do not have them (including these 3D printed pots on Etsy). However, it is possible to enjoy them by learning how to plant in pots without drainage holes that we will talk about in this article. If you’d like to learn how to make a drainage hole for your pot (whether clay, ceramic or glass), read this article.
Determining how much and how often you should water your succulents isn’t always an easy task, and it’s even harder in pots without drainage holes.
The main consideration to consider is that succulents need their roots to dry quickly. If the roots remain wet for too long a time, they will start to rot. In a pot with drainage hole, water flows by the action of gravity and there is also better air circulation, but if the pot is without drainage holes, it will be necessary to compensate for the water retention in some other ways.
If you are a beginner, we will always recommend that you do your best to plant your succulents in containers with holes, but there are cases where we do not want to do so. For example, if we want to make a terrarium inside a glass case or in a fish tank it is likely that this container does not have holes. Or, if we have our succulents decorating the interior of the house and we do not want to wet the shelf or furniture in which we have them every time we water them, we will probably choose a pot without drainage holes.
So let’s look at the principles you need to follow so that your succulents stay healthy by living in pots without any drainage hole.
How to Plant in Pots without Drainage Holes
Choose Soil with Good Drainage and Ventilation
The soil is especially crucial if you are going to plant in a pot without drainage, as the right soil will allow the water to dry at the rate your plant needs it. Even if the water has nowhere to flow, the correct soil will allow the passage of air favoring evaporation.
What characteristics should your soil have? For starters, it should be a soil formed with large particles, ideally about 6 millimeters (1/4 inch) in diameter. In addition, it is important that it has porous materials, which prevent the soil from clumping and too much water is retained.
In this other article we talk about the mixtures of soil that you can use with your succulents in general, although in a closed container, you can use coarse sand, or even pumice. The important thing is that it is a soil mixture that does not absorb too much water and dries easily, so that you can water the succulent with the ‘soak-and-dry’ method which is ideal. You can learn more about the right way to water in this article.
Measure the Water You Use When Watering
One of the main problems you’ll encounter when using a pot without drainage holes is knowing how much water you’ve already put in the pot. In a pot with holes you know that the soil is well soaked because you can see the water coming out underneath. In a glass container this is not a problem since you can see the water level when filling it. However, many pots are opaque and prevent you from knowing when you have already poured a considerable amount of water.
Therefore, you should experiment and when you find the right point, be sure to mark how much water you are using. One way to always water consistently is to always use the same bottle or container when watering. You can draw a mark that tells you how far you should pour the water it contains. You can also use measuring cups or a glass of the right size.
The key is that you know how much water to use and just water that amount. Let’s remember that the water won’t come out of the pot other than by evaporation. If you put your pot under a hose or under the kitchen tap, it’s hard to measure how much water you’re filling and you could easily give your plant too much water and can cause the roots to rot.
Determine How Much Water to Use
It is difficult to determine the correct amount of water in a pot without drainage. If you put too much water, you can use a towel to try to absorb a little, or if your pot is small, you can even tilt it so that the water comes out.
Keep in mind that each type of soil retains water in different ways, so even after deciding how much water you’re going to use, you should take a look often and make sure none of the symptoms appear to show that there is a problem with irrigation. You can learn about these dangerous symptoms in this article.
As a general rule, I recommend watering with a volume of water equal to half the size of the pot. For example, if the pot contains around a cup of soil, you water it with 1/2 cup of water.
You can use this reference as a starting point, but keep your eyes open to what your plant tells you in the coming weeks, as an adjustment may be necessary.
Determine How Often You Should Water
The answer to this question is simple:
Water only when the soil is completely dry.
Especially with pots without drainage, you can’t assume that a fixed frequency, for example once a week or twice a week, is the right one. Following the principle of only watering when the soil has already dried is crucial, as the soil dries more slowly.
Since drying will depend solely on evaporation, you may need to leave more time than usual between watering. Many factors such as temperature, humidity in the environment and ventilation will influence, so don’t trust watering at a certain frequency and always check if the soil is already dry before watering.