Adding extra holes on the side of the planter 1-2 inches above the bottom level can help excess water to drain out. This can be great for Mediterranean herbs and tomatoes which hate having wet roots. Holes in the side of terracotta pots are perfect for planting strawberries or herbs. Buy pots with holes pre-made to make it easier.
Pros of drainage holes on the side of planters
Increased air movement
Drainage holes on the side of plants will increase air movement while allowing excess water to escape. Holes on the side will form the basis of a wicking bed where water is deliberately held in a gravel bed. The water then flows up into the soil, saving water and creating a closed system. Any excess water can be poured back on the bed.
Can be added after the planter is built
Drainage holes on the side of planters are easy to drill and can be added after they have been built. If you find that water is being captured in the planter, holes can be added to the side without the need to move the planter at all. Adding more drainage holes to the bottom is difficult once the planter is full of soil.
Can provide extra planting space
Large holes on the side of planters can be used to plant small succulents. This is a cute feature and increases the planting area and still allowing water to drain.
Cons of holes on the side of planters
Larger holes in the side of planters can allow soil to escape. This can create mess, particularly if the planter is placed on concrete or pavers.
For more on placing planters on concrete without the mess, check out my previous article here.
Holes in the side of the planters can look messy and can be difficult to drill in thick concrete planter boxes. Avoiding chipping or splitting the planter box is important and careful drilling is needed to achieve this. Make sure you cover the area with tape and use the right drill bit to minimize the chance of damaging your planter box.
Window box planters with holes in the side
Window box planters can be made with holes in the side to capture excess water and avoid drips on your porch or pavers. The holes in the side will allow excess water to drain out in heavy rain.
Check out this one from Amazon below.
Wicking beds with a hole on the side
Wicking beds are a great planter box which will have a single hole in the side for water that overflows. Wicking beds are planters which are built to hold water in the bottom layer of gravel. The water will gradually flow up through the soil to keep the plants moist.
As water rises above the gravel level, a hole in the side will allow excess to flow out preventing the soil from becoming too wet.
Self-watering pots with holes in the side
Self-watering pots are fantastic for those that travel or if you are someone that forgets to water. These pots contain an inner pot with holes in the side that drain well. This will allow water to sit safely in the bottom of the pot while the plant roots are lifted to avoid rot. Water will travel up slowly watering the plant over time.
Check them out at Amazon here.
How to drill holes in clay pots and terracotta pots
Terracotta pots can be tricky to add holes but by following a few simple steps and using the right tools, you can add holes in the side with ease.
Holes on the side of terracotta pots
Terracotta pots with holes in the side are perfect for planting strawberries and herbs. Small strawberry runners can be cut off from the main plant and placed in the holes in the side. These pots need to be watered regularly.
Planting Mediterranean herbs in the side of terracotta pots is a great option. These herbs can tolerate drying out which is more likely in these types of pots.
Check out these pots from Amazon below.
Why do some pots have holes on the side?
Pots can have hole son the side to add extra drainage. Plants including tomatoes, potatoes and banana trees will all benefit from extra drainage. Wicking beds will have a single hole to allow excess water to drain and terracotta pots can have side holes to grow strawberries, herbs or succulents.
Should a planter have drainage holes?
All planters should have drainage holes to prevent root rot and mold forming in the soil. Some pots are made without drainage holes and these are often used as indoor pots. A plant in its original pot with drainage holes will be placed inside these pots. They form a decorative outside, will capture any water drips and avoid staining your furniture or floor.
When placing indoor plants inside these pots without holes, you should make sure that they do not sit in a pool of water. This can cause rot as the plant sits in the pool of water over time.
What to plant in pots with holes on side?
The best plants to put in pots with holes in the side are pots that can tolerate some time without water. These include succulents and Mediterranean herbs. These types of plants will tolerate periods of dryness.
Where do drainage holes go in a planter box?
When placing additional holes in a plater you should place them in the bottom for the best results. Place holes across a wide area, covering the bottom of the planter. Make sure the corners have drainage holes to avoid water pooling in these areas.
Drainage holes on side of planter | Summary
Drainage holes on the side of planters can be added as an easy way to solve the problem of soggy soil. Vegetables and flowers can rot quickly fi the soil is too wet or if there is not enough drainage in your planter. For filled planters that are already in place drilling holes in the side is an easy way to improve air movement and allow extra water to escape.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.