Can I Plant Pothos Without Drainage?

Many pots that aren’t just simple plastic ones don’t have drainage holes on the bottom of a plant pot. This is especially true of larger or more decorative pots. With so many not having drainage holes, you may be wondering if your plants need them. Maybe drainage holes are just a nice thing to have but not necessary?

A Pothos plant does better with drainage holes in the bottom of their pot as it reduces the chance of overwatering and root rot. 

There are ways to easily put holes into your plant pot, even ceramic ones. If you can’t put a hole in your pot, there are also methods to help reduce your chances of overwatering. Many of them can be done with various items you likely already have around your home. 

Do Pothos Need Drainage?

Pothos need drainage. At least one drainage hole on the bottom is required for any pot with Pothos if you want your plant to be healthy and reduce the chances of root rot. While they like moist soil, staying overly wet can seriously hurt the plant and lead to root rot. 

What To Use In The Bottom Of Indoor Planters For Drainage

Usually, when the soil isn’t draining as it should, the problem is the soil has become compacted. You need adequately aerated soil to promote water drainage. People have found all sorts of creative ways to aerate the soil. Most of them you can do with things you have in or around your home. 

Even if you have a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, the soil may become compact enough that water can’t drain. Alternatively, it may plug up the drainage hole, becoming ineffective. For this reason, putting something in the bottom of the pot never hurts if your plant needs well-draining soil. 

  • Water bottles
  • Milk jugs
  • Pool noodles
  • Cheesecloth
  • Plastic mesh
  • Kitchen colander
  • Large rocks
  • Bubble wrap

These items can either be used at the bottom of the pot to make it impossible for soil to become compact or to just fill up the hole with something that will still allow water to drain. For example, you can use empty water bottles with their lids on at the bottom, which breaks up the soil and allows more space for water to flow through.

Cheesecloth, however, can be placed at the bottom of the pot. It doesn’t reduce the compactness of soil, but if you have a soil type with plenty of natural aeration, this can be done just to stop the soil from plugging in the hole at the bottom. 

How To Make Drainage Holes In Ceramic Pots

ceramic pots
There are many cute pots out there that you can buy in any store. Unfortunately, many prettier or more functional pots don’t have any holes. Plastic pots might be easier to put holes into, but ceramic ones can easily break. 

Thankfully, many other people have the same problem, so many guides are out there. If you are a little more DIY and have a lot of tools around your home, one of the most accessible options is to drill through the bottom. 

It is important to use the right tool. It could crack if you end up using the wrong drill bit. After a few tests, it was found that a diamond-tipped hole saw bit works the best. They don’t provide the most circular holes, but there is little to no chance of cracking. 

If you don’t have a drill, there are options for that. They don’t provide smooth holes, but they still offer functional drainage. 

The first option is to take a nail, some electrical tape, and something to tap on the nail with. Cover the area you want to put a hole into with the electrical tape, and then take the nail and gently hammer it into the electrical tape. This will reduce the chances of breaking the ceramic pot and allows you to put multiple holes in one pot. 

The other option is to fill up your pot with something compact. Many people use soil, but you can also fill the pot with a wet cloth. Compact the material as much into the pot as possible, then take the nail and hammer it into it. 

These methods work with big pots and thinner ceramics like cups or teapots. It also works for both glazed and unglazed ceramic. 

Is One Drainage Hole Enough?

One drainage hole is often enough, especially if the hole is in the center of the pot. You can add more if you want, but it is a matter of preference. Generally, one drainage hole for plants that enjoy damp but not wet soil is plenty.

Two or three drainage holes may be better for plants like succulents that enjoy dry soil. However, even succulents can handle just one drainage hole. 

Can You Overwater Plants With Drainage Holes?

Even with drainage holes, plants can become overwatered. If the soil isn’t aerated enough, it can become compact and hold onto water. Also, the drainage hole can become blocked, which causes the pot to hold excess water. 

Just because your pot has a drainage hole, don’t just automatically assume the pot is fine. Check to ensure water is still draining out of the drainage holes after watering. You might have a problem with your pot or soil if they aren’t.

For the most part, though, with drainage holes in the bottom of your pot, you shouldn’t have to worry about overwatering.   

What Plants are Ok Without Drainage?

pots with no drainageThere aren’t any plants that do well without some drainage. While technically, any plant can go without drainage, they have a higher chance of being overwatered as water will sit at the bottom. 

However, some plants have a slightly better chance of surviving without drainage than others. They would still do better with a drainage hole but can tolerate wet roots better than most. 

Although Pothos prefer drainage holes, and we recommend using one, they are some of the plants that do better without a drainage hole as long as you water them carefully. Other plants include:

  • Dumb Cane
  • Spider Plants
  • ZZ Plant
  • Rough Horsetail
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Snake Plants

How Can I Water My Plants Without Drainage Holes?

Putting something at the bottom of your pot that allows water to drain out of the soil is a good practice if you don’t have holes in the bottom of your pot and don’t want to make one. 

You want to use some large rocks and pebbles. Place a good layer that takes up about a quarter of your pot at the bottom, then place your soil on top. This doesn’t eliminate the need for careful watering, and you can still potentially overwater them, but it does provide some protection. 

Can Pothos Grow in Shallow Pots?

If you don’t want your Pothos to get too large, then planting a Pothos in a small or shallow pot is a good option. 

The minimum pot size should be about 2 inches (5 cm) wider than the root ball. For the depth, it just needs to be deep enough that the root ball is covered. 

This means that for already established plants, you generally can’t put them into a shallow pot because the roots are already established in a rounded shape. However, young roots on small plants can spread out rather than down, making them ideal for shallow pots. 


Pothos is one of the plants that many people often say don’t need drainage holes. While they can certainly still grow in a pot without drainage holes, you must water carefully if you have no other option. 

All potted plants, even the tolerant Pothos, do better with drainage holes in the bottom of their pot as it reduces the chance of overwatering and root rot. 

Some plants can handle multiple drainage holes, but at least one should be standard with every plant. Otherwise, you risk the soil becoming too wet and staying that way, leading to root rot and bursting of cell walls.