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How to Improve Drainage in Potted Plants

Updated: Aug 26

Plants, like humans, have needs. They need air, water, sunlight and warmth to grow properly. Too much of one of these elements can cause the amount of another element to reduce drastically. This is why all of these elements need to have a good balance for plants to grow properly.


Drainage is important for the growth of plants as it ensures that the plant's roots have an appropriate balance of air and water. Poor drainage indicates that the roots are not getting sufficient air, whereas excessive drainage implies that the roots are not getting adequate amounts of water.


Drainage is a major concern, especially when it comes to potted plants. There are many ways in which poor drainage or excessive drainage can cause your plants to wilt and die.

Here are a few ways to improve drainage in potted plants.


1. Add compost to the soil


Soils often happen to have a large proportion of sandy soil, which, in turn, causes excessive drainage. This is because sandy soils do not have a good capacity to hold water. So, water is lost quickly, and you need to water your plants regularly so that they do not die.

Another issue is when the soil happens to contain too much clay. This acts as an obstacle in drainage and ends up causing a lack of oxygen near the plant's roots. As a result, your plants end up wilting.

An easy way to tackle this issue is by adding compost to your soil. Compost holds water in sandy soil where the roots of the plant can easily reach it. It also allows water to drain in clay soils by opening up the porous structure of the soil.


2. Choose the right pot


Most people often make a mistake right at the very beginning by using the wrong type of pot. Choose a deep pot that is the size of the plant or bigger.


A deep pot increases the porosity, which allows a better drainage system for the plants. Pots made of self-watering material let water pass through to the potting media slowly as per the plant's requirements.


Pots made of porous material let the water evaporate, so these require frequent watering. Finally, using a pot as big as the plant or bigger than the plant is a better choice since smaller pots drain water faster than bigger ones.


3. Add a course material to the soil


Some soils have very small pore space since they happen to be fine-textured soil. As a result, the already small pore space is decreased further when water gets in contact with the soil. This causes a lack of air.

To tackle this problem, simply add some gravel or vermiculite to your soil. This will increase the pore spacing and let sufficient amounts of air get to the plants' roots.


The amount of air and water the roots of your plants get is fundamental for their growth and survival. One element can get limited due to the abundance of the other. This is why it is vital for you to ensure that your potted plants have a good drainage system to grow well.




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