A: The drainage hole is plugged.
With this obvious answer, you’re stuck with a pot swimming in water, and now have to remedy it to save your planting. In big heavy pots, this is no fun because big or small, you still have to take the plant out, inspect the soil and roots. Will you end up being able to save your beloved plant(s)? Probably, if you caught the problem right away.
In the “urn” example below. Saving the plants within, once I noticed standing water was a judgement call. Because this particular urn and its matching neighbor were soon to be redone anyway, the situation wasn’t a big deal.
However, noticing symptoms and signs from yellowing leaves, and other signals that plants are stressed, will make a difference if you catch this early on.
Here’s what happened with the urn…
Standing Water… Why?
A lot of the time you have access to the underside of your container…a planter with plenty of drainage holes, a large pot with one large drainage hole, you should be able to get a look – or cop a feel to what’s going on. Of course, once you realize that the roots have outgrown the potting soil and are girdling around, or trying to break free, and escape the pot via the drainage hole, it’s time to take action (kinda soon.)
The photo below, shows that the urn is calling for replanting or re-potting. The roots have outgrown the pot, and have scrambled down into the hidden drainage hole. The base of the urn with pedestal is closed. No drainage hole to inspect.
- The Urn’s Design Encloses the Drainage Hole
This photo below, is to show you just how long the roots had grown. Pulling the mass of roots up through the drainage hole was a good foot of roots. This mass plugged up the drainage hole, sealing it, so that the pot which is watered by automatic drip irrigation, holds water, like a bath with a plug.
Upon taking the shrub out, I found that the shard of pottery I used to cover the drainage hole (to keep soil from washing out) was within the root ball, and roots were seeking exit out the drainage hole.
Upon replanting, I made some changes. As you can see above, I covered the drainage hole with screen and taped it in place to make sure that I don’t have a similar problem. This urn is just one of a pair. The other urn with similar plants, has never had this problem. Why you wonder? Likely, because the location of the other urn, though nearby, is protected by the dappled light of a nearby plum tree. The urn with roots through the drainage hole is in sun, and tends to grow at a faster rate.
The lessons here for all of us are the same.
1. Pay attention to your potted plants. 🙂