A: You do if you’re planning on putting both plant and potting soil directly into the pot for the plant to grow. You don’t, if you just want to use the planter as an attractive catch pot used to display floral arrangements and plants.
I’ve found that while a lot of pots and planters DO come with one, or more drainage holes, it’s not a given. Size and quantity isn’t a given either. It makes sense because the manufacturer is giving you options to use the pot the way you want.
Metal garden planters have always been popular, especially traditionally styled ones. But in the last bunch of years, sleek-modern ones have taken off.
Q: How Many Holes Do I Need?
A: There’s no strict rule or formula…
I look at the size of the pot, a small to medium pot with a 12″ to 18″ diameter I might do one central drainage hole. For the rectangular planter below I drilled three holes.
My Recent Encounter – Time to Drill Some Holes!
Last summer I had several occasions where I couldn’t plant until I had some drainage hole ready to go. Like I said above, new metal planters don’t always come with drainage holes, so I needed to get that going.
In a puzzling situation with a new client, I wondered: “why after only two years in steel planters had so many of the plants died?”
When it came time to re-due the planters the answer was there. Believe it or not, these generously sized planters had only one tiny drainage hole per pot. It was the SIZE OF A DIME… I kid you not!
The good news is that I had the probable cause solved. The soil was waterlogged and the plants barely had any live roots, and to add insult to injury the pot stunk like funk with all of that anaerobic activity taking place.
*Learn more here: potted plant care.
So to get going, I had five planters – 2 medium rectangular ones (all of the photos in this post); and 3 medium square planters. Before I could replant, I had to prep these planters with holes.
Here’s what I needed. And, here’s what you will need:
1) A Drill…….2) A Step Drill Bit……3) WD-40
Steps to Get You Drilling!
- Step 1. Turn your planter over, you may want to place a tarp underneath. In my case, I had to remove hundreds of pounds of waterlogged soil and dead shrubs beforehand so a tarp was handy.
- Step 2. If needed, clean or dry-off the soon to be hole area.
- Step 3. Grab your drill and put in a step drill bit attachment. Sizes vary, but one that is 1/4 inch to 1-3/8 inch would
be perfect. I think mine is actually smaller than that, but it steps up to over 1 inch.
- Step 4. Start drilling where you want your hole to be. In my case I had large rectangular planters and several square planters. I put 3 drainage holes in the rectangular planter, (photo below). You’ll a want to spray some WD-40. These pots were thicker than some you can buy so I really needed the WD-40. Thinner pots, you may be able to get away without using any, but I would still recommend using it if you’re not sure or not familiar with this.
- Step 5. Spray WD-40, consistently to keep the drill bit from getting stuck and heating up. If the planter’s metal is thin, this step might not be necessary These planters required this lubricant.
Plants Die in Pots all of the Time…
PS: Though you could find the trouble of having to make a drainage hole a pain I’m here to tell you that making holes in metal is actually pretty fun, addictive really!