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How to Drill Drainage Holes in a Planter

By: Staff Published: June 22, 2023

Your container plants, whether they live inside or outside, have to have the right amount of water to survive. This means they can’t be too dry — and they also need to avoid oversaturation. Root rot is no fun for anyone, especially your plants!

Drainage holes in their planters will help maintain the proper moisture for your plants. If the planters you’ve chosen to suit your décor didn’t come with built-in drainage holes, you can create them yourself in a few minutes with just a few tools. We promise it’s not hard (and you might even find it fun!).

Tools you’ll need

You can add a drainage hole to a plastic, resin or ceramic planter. The necessary tools may vary slightly from one type to another, but the basics are the same for all. Pull out your toolbox, borrow the following items from a handy neighbor or purchase them from your local hardware store (if you think you’ll use them again).

drill and bits

With a power drill and the appropriate drill bit, you can add a drain hole to almost any planter.

  • Safety glasses
  • Power drill or hand drill
  • Drill bit
  • Artist tape
  • A cup of water

The type of drill bit you use will depend on the material you’re boring into. For resin planters, a ¼-inch wood drill bit (or smaller) will do the trick. Ceramic planters need a masonry bit. It’ll look different from the wood bits because it’s larger at the end. Still, it should be no larger than ¼-inch in diameter.

What to do

Now that you’ve collected everything you’ll need, it’s time to get drilling!

  1. Begin by donning those stylish safety goggles. Never skip this step, even if you think it’s overkill.
  2. Then invert your planter of choice on a hard surface.
  3. Tear off a small piece or two of artist or painter’s tape and place the tape where you want the hole to be.
  4. For a resin pot that’s 12 to 14 inches, drilling one hole in the lowest part of the bottom should be enough. For larger pots, you’ll want to increase the drainage by drilling a second hole opposite of the first one. The holes should be no larger than half an inch in small to medium-sized pots and at least one inch each in pots that measure 16 inches in diameter or more. Ceramic pots need only one hole in the center. This will help prevent cracking.
  5. Whichever type of planter you’re drilling, hold it steady so that it remains upright the entire time. Ceramic planters need more patience and time than resin ones. Have that cup of water nearby so you can dip the drill bit into it every five seconds or so. The metal gets very hot quickly when drilling into ceramic.
  6. Place a coffee filter over the hole so that rocks and dirt don’t fall out.
  7. If desired, pour drainage rocks in the bottom of your resin planter. They’ll add weight and improve the drainage.
  8. Insert your plant into the pot and water as instructed.

More of a visual learner? Watch this short video.

Now that you know how to drill a drainage hole into any planter, you can shop our full collection of planters.

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