previous
  • How to Grow Mustard
    How to Grow Mustard
  • Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
    Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
  • Plant Finder: Spring Plants
    Plant Finder: Spring Plants
  • 10 Combinations for Shade
    10 Combinations for Shade
  • Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
    Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
  • 20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
    20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
  • Black Plants Done Right
    Black Plants Done Right
  • 10 Seed-Starting Tips
    10 Seed-Starting Tips
  • Planting the Right Way
    Planting the Right Way
  • DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
    DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
  • Using Containers as Elements of a Design
    Using Containers as Elements of a Design
  • Garden Design Basics
    Garden Design Basics
  • NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
    NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
  • Rhodies to Treasure
    Rhodies to Treasure
  • Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
    Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
  • Go Green on the Patio
    Go Green on the Patio
  • Pick Plants for Fragrance
    Pick Plants for Fragrance
  • Homegrown / Homemade
    Homegrown / Homemade
  • 3 Ways to Design with Containers
    3 Ways to Design with Containers
  • Building Better Borders
    Building Better Borders
  • Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
    Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
  • Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
    Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
  • Rex Begonias
    Rex Begonias
next

Second thoughts on pot drainage

If you’re like me, you learned early on to fill the bottom of a container with gravel or pieces of a broken pot to improve drainage. I have since discovered that this practice actually impairs rather than improves drainage.

When you water a plant in a container, a certain amount of soil at the bottom remains saturated. Because most roots won’t grow into saturated soil, where oxygen is unavailable, the growing space in your container is reduced. If your soil mix tends to hold on to a 2-inch depth of water, for example, then an 8-inch-deep pot effectively becomes a 6-inch-deep pot. Adding gravel or “drainage pads” can’t encourage this water to drain away; drainage is a property of the growing mix. A layer of anything other than soil at the bottom of a container further reduces the available well-drained growing medium and increases the chance that the plant will be overwatered.

Bonnie Lee Appleton, Virginia Beach, VA