Planting & Watering Succulents In Containers Without Drain Holes

Do you ever find the most beautiful pot you’ve ever seen, but to your dismay, it doesn’t have drainage? Well, there is no need to get dismayed! Let me teach you how to plant and water your favorite succulent with your new favorite containers without drainage!

Before we get into the Delicate Art of planting a succulent in a non-draining pots, keep in mind that a planters and pots with drainage holes is still the better option, especially if you’re a beginner when it comes to growing succulents.

The reason why you should be choosing a pot That Drains Soil is that it will be easier for you to know if you’ve already poured enough water in your pot. If water is already pouring out from the hole, it means that the pot already has enough water.

However, I agree that it is hard not to let go of a pot that you probably will not see everywhere even if it doesn’t have any drainage hole. Personally, I would check if the container is durable enough to drill into.

If it is too thick and it seems like it will crack if you drill a hole on it, here are the easy steps you can follow to use it still as is.

Read: How to Water Succulent Plants To Keep Them Alive And Thriving

how to plant succulents in pots without drainage holes

Materials to be used:

  • Pebbles or stones
  • Charcoal (optional)
  • Well-draining potting soil
  • Gardening Gloves

Right Pot or Container for Succulents

The first thing you’ve to consider is how big your pot is. The size of your container should tell you how big the stones or pebbles are appropriate to use. Stones or pebbles will help with drainage.

If you've got a pot that is less than 10 inches, then just stick with pebbles. For a 10-inch pot, fill it up with an inch and a half of pebbles. Make sure you spread them evenly.

Well draining soil for succulent

The next thing I suggest is for you to use charcoal. Spread an inch and a half of this above the pebbles. This is something really optional, but charcoal helps with drainage and can help absorb bad odor from the soil.

I like using Josh’s Frogs Horticultural Charcoal. It comes in small packs since you don’t really need a lot of it when planting.

If you don’t mind spending a bit extra on this, you can use activated charcoal as well.

Succulent soil

Once the pebbles and charcoal are settled, it’s time to put in the soil. I highly recommend using well-draining soil like the gritty mix. 

Succulents need soil that has large particles that dry off fast. The regular potting soil is heavy and thick – it absorbs more water than what is needed.

Pour about two inches of the gritty soil mix into your pot. C&M Solis is an excellent soil mix that I recommend.

You can add more layer of either charcoal or mixed soil, depending on how high you want the succulent to be.

If you’re already satisfied with the height of the soil mix, this is when you can position your succulent.

Now that your succulent is already sitting on your new pot, you may want to consider how often and how much watering you should be doing. Don’t sweat it! I can share real good techniques so that your plant won’t dry out or get over watered.

Read: How to Water Succulent Plants To Keep Them Alive And Thriving

How to Water Succulents in Pots without Drainage

Even if succulents do not need watering all the time, they still may dry out if you don’t water them enough. If you water them too often and too much, they will just get mushy.

The first thing I've to suggest about watering them is never to use spray bottle. It does not promote healthy growth for your succulents. It’s best to use Measuring Cup (like this one) that can let you pour the water. I've four options for you when it comes to watering your succulent.

How Much And How Often Should I Water My Indoor Succulent Plants

I usually use a turkey baster to water my succulents. I like how easy it is to measure the water I feed my succulents. It’s easy to control and read. Another device I use is a giant syringe. Like the turkey baster, this also has a good way of measuring the amount of water I take and pour. It’s also easy to control!

Now if you don’t have both turkey baster or a giant syringe, then a measuring cup will do. That’s the easiest thing to find in supermarkets or even a baking supply shop.

Last but definitely not the least is using a squeeze bottle. This is available in the gardening section of supermarkets or in your favorite gardening shops. It’s also a favorite of mine because it is perfect for controlling the amount of water I feed the plants.

How much water?

For measuring how much water you should be giving your plant, the general rule is that it should at least be 1/2 of the amount of soil in your pot.

So if your pot has a cup of mixed soil in it, you may pour 1/2 a cup of water on it. Do not worry if you leave water on the leaves. It will eventually slide down its body.

When pouring the water, make sure that you evenly spread it on the soil. Covering the entire soil area is important to make sure that your succulent is well-fed.

How Often Should You Water Your Succulents?

When it comes to how often you should be watering your succulents, I suggest that the moment you just finished potting it, lift it up and feel its weight. Now you've got an idea as to how it will feel like if it needs watering.

For the amount of water you should feed it, it will depend on how much soil or mix is in your pot. Earlier, I had about two cups worth of mix in my pot. I should only get a cup of water to pour on it.

When pouring, make sure that you evenly pour water on the soil. Covering the entire soil area is important.

After watering, grab and lift your pot to get a feel of how differently it weighs when it’s watered sufficiently.

So after a couple of days, around 5 days, check how the pot weighs again. If it seems to be back on how it weighed unwatered, then grab your watering device and feed it again. 

Just make sure you always check the mixed soil in your pot. If it seems dry and powdery, it’s time to water them again.

The Right Light for Your Succulent

When we think of succulents, we think of cacti as well. It’s a common misconception that we have to put them under the sun all the time. In fact, succulents need protection from the sun if it is more than 90 degrees outside.

This doesn’t really mean that you’ve to keep your succulents in the shade though. Doing that will cause your plant to die.

You’ve to do enough research about what type of succulent you could leave outside and exposed to the sun. Small and green succulents are best kept indoors. Here are some of them:

  • Jade Plant
  • Aloe Vera
  • Echeveria
  • Zebra Plant
  • Panda Plant
  • Crown of Thorns

Indoor succulents still need some light time. If you plan on exposing them on direct sunlight, you can do that for 6 hours every 4-5 days. If you don’t expose them to light, these plants will become leggy and extended towards the light.

Red, gray, blue, or succulents well-covered with spines can survive living outside your place. Their color and feature help reflect the sun’s rays so they should be fine outdoors. Here are a few of those plants:

  • Arctic Ice
  • Sedum Firestorm
  • Graptoveria Opalina
  • Calico Kitten
  • Little Gem
  • Anacampseros Sunrise

What’s cool to know is that these plants do not really need the sunlight alone. You can use artificial lighting to keep them healthy and alive.

What these plants really need is the light itself and not the sun. That is very different for us humans since we do need the sun for natural vitamin D.

Possible Watering Problems

Remember that if you expose your succulents to direct light, its water may run out fast so always check the soil using a Soil Water Monitor to see if it’s becoming dry and starchy.

If your succulents are over watered, it will look mushy, and its leaves and stems will look watery. This means that you should lessen the amount of water you put in them or the frequency of watering them.

On the other hand, if you’re not giving them enough water, they will look dry and withered. So be quick to changing your watering habit before they completely dry out!

It takes time for you to understand what your plants really need, but once you’re used to their needs, you’ll get to enjoy their beauty.

Taking care of succulents nowadays has become quite a trend because of the aesthetic it gives your home or even your workplace, but remember that they are living things and they need some love and care!

Planting & Watering Succulents In pot Without Drain Holes

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Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she attended University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture. She has supplemented her formal education by working on various organic farms, including spending a semester abroad in India.

Growing and/or raising just about anything gets her excited. She is especially passionate about environmental justice and low-tech, sustainable ways to better run small-scale farms and homesteads. Lindsey started Urban Organic Yield to discuss gardening tips and tactics.

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