Must-Have Skill for Plant Lovers: How to Add Drainage Holes to Pots

Cat Meschia of ctrl + curate is a craft blogger based in Gainesville, Florida where she spends her time creating beautiful things that encourage thoughtful living. Known for her affordable small-space solutions and practical yet artistically-driven designs, Cat shares everything from DIY planters to no-weave wall hangings through simple tutorials and inspiration boards. She’s shared this simple tutorial on how to add drainage holes to pots with Apartment Therapy, so you can finally say goodbye to the root rot epidemic in your home – long live the plants!

With planting season in full-swing, I’ve been hunting down cute pots and stands. When I saw this pot/stand combo from IKEA, I knew it was coming home with me! (It actually took me three IKEA trips to find it, but hey, it’s home now.) The major downside, though, was no drainage holes.

Nuh uh. Not this time. I learned my lesson with my last IKEA ‘self watering’ pot (the shorter one pictured above). Plants don’t like sitting in wet soil for days on end. It’s the difference between wearing wet socks for a week or having a short, relaxing pedicure. So I could have passed over this great find or find a solution. And really, adding drainage holes is ridiculously easy with the right tools!

What You’ll Need

  • Drill bits (standard drill bits for plastic pots, masonry bits for unglazed ceramics like terracotta, diamond tipped bits for glazed ceramics)
  • Drill
  • Nail
  • Spray bottle
  • Lots of water

If you’re working on an unglazed pot, soak overnight to prep. This will help the drill move more smoothly through it.

Scratch a small ‘starter’ mark where you want the drainage hole with your nail to help the drill bit to stay in place. With your spray bottle in one hand and drill in the other, slowly go at it. Keep the drill bit and pot surface wet with the spray bottle. This keeps the bit from overheating (and potentially snapping) and the pot from cracking. If you feel like the bit isn’t getting anywhere, don’t be afraid to really give it some force. Just be sure to keep the drill perpendicular to the pot and not at an angle. Always work up to a bigger size instead of using the largest bit immediately. I started with 1/4″ sizes and went up to 1/2″.

Ah. Pure satisfaction. Now I only add a tiny bit of water to the ‘self watering’ base to give plant baby the humidity he craves but not enough to touch the interior pot. Remember pedicures, not wet socks.

Check out Cat’s original tutorial, scroll through her latest projects, or just say hi by visiting ctrl + curate here.


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