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5 Ways You Can Water Succulents If Your Pot Has No Drainage Hole

by Sofia Lara

When choosing a pot to grow your succulent, one of the first things you look for is a drainage hole. Overwatering is the primary cause of death of succulents. If the roots of the plant remain immersed in water for more than two days, they will begin to rot. The purpose of the drainage hole is to allow excess water to flow out so that the soil can get completely dry. 

For those who prefer their succulents indoors, growing them in pots with a drainage hole may present a problem if excess water spills out of the catch tray. 

The most viable solution might be to plant the succulent in a pot that has no drainage hole. 

The solution might sound like it’s going against conventional wisdom because as we just discussed, succulents cannot be immersed in water for more than two days or else its roots will rot. 

The truth is, with a little bit of planning and foresight, you can successfully grow a succulent in a pot without a drainage hole. 

5 Ways You Can Water Succulents In A Pot That Has No Drainage Hole

If it wasn’t possible for succulents to survive in a pot with no drainage hole, there wouldn’t be a market for pots that don’t have this feature. 

Yes, you can find many beautiful pots that don’t have a drainage hole. And yes, there are succulent growers who buy them!

If you decide to buy one, your biggest problem would be to find ways to remove the excess water so you can prevent root rot. 

We’ve taken away the guesswork and have listed 5 ways to solve the problem of eliminating excess water and help the soil dry out faster.

  1. Use Well-Draining Soil

More important than the drainage hole is the quality of the soil that the succulent is planted in. The best soil to use is one that is well-draining such as cactus soil or a commercial blend that has been formulated specifically for succulents. 

Well-draining soil allows water to evaporate naturally. It is also well-aerated and lets air flow freely between the roots of the plant.  

Combine well-draining soil with a pot that has no drainage hole but is made of terra cotta or unglazed ceramic. Both types of potting materials encourage water to naturally evaporate from the sides of the pot. 

  1. Improve Drainage by Adding These Ingredients

In addition to using well-draining soil, you should include a few ingredients that will further improve the quality of drainage. Make sure you have a large pot with enough room to fit the additional ingredients. 

At the bottom of the pot, create a layer made of rocks, pumice, stones or pebbles. If you wish, you can make the layer a combination of these ingredients. The purpose of this layer is to act as a catch basin – excess water will flow out of the soil and rest underneath the rocks. 

Place a ½ inch layer of activated charcoal on top of the layer of rocks. Adding activated charcoal provides two key benefits:

  • Activated charcoal is an excellent absorbent of moisture.
  • It has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that will further protect the roots from rotting and other types of infection.
  1. Measure the Amount of Water

The rule of thumb when watering succulents is to give the soil a “good soaking”. This rule applies if your pot has a drainage hole. Without the drainage hole, it is not recommended to give the soil a good soaking. 

Instead, you should measure the amount of water that you give the succulent. The question is “How much water should you give the succulent without drenching the soil and cause excess moisture?”

For this, we will introduce another rule of thumb:

The amount of water you give to a succulent planted in a pot without a drainage hole should be equivalent to ½ the volume that can be accommodated by the pot. 

For example, if your pot can hold two cups of water, give the soil only one cup of water. 

When applying this rule, observe any changes in the succulent. If the leaves are changing color or show signs of thinning out, adjust the amount of water by 50% or one-and-a-half cups in the next watering schedule.

Don’t guess the amount of water you are giving the succulent. You can use a measuring cup, a water bottle or a pipette to water the soil. 

  1. Keep Track of the Watering Schedule

The frequency of watering will depend on how fast the soil dries out. Factors such as temperature and the weather can affect the moisture level of the soil. It is important to keep track of the watering schedule to make sure you don’t overwater the soil.

Monitoring the moisture level of the soil can be a challenge when the succulent is grown indoors because there are other variables to consider such as whether the room is air-conditioned or not or if there is sufficient ventilation. 

It is a good idea to use more precise methods of testing the moisture content of the soil than just feel. You might want to insert a stick an inch into the topsoil or use a measuring instrument such as a hygrometer.

  1. Final Solution – Re-pot the Succulent

If you notice that the succulent’s condition has taken a turn for the worse, it might be a good idea to re-pot the succulent. It is possible that the roots have started to rot. 

Re-potting will ensure that the succulent has a second lease on life by getting re-planted in fresh soil. 


You can still grow a succulent in a pot that has no drainage hole by following our five tips. Using a glass pot might make it easier for you to measure the right amount of water to give your succulent. Let’s call that tip number 6!

Succulent plants are a great addition to any home. They add color and life to any room. To enjoy the company of your succulent, make sure they receive the right amount of sunlight and water.

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