Proper Drainage Saves Your Plants From a Watery Grave

Mike 4 4-12
It’s been  a wet spring. I have several of these old concrete pots filled with English ivy. This one suddenly browned off last week.
The Problem? A root has grown out the drainage hole and plugged the outlet, resulting in a dying plant.
Mike 3 4-12
The Solution:
Tip the pot and cut off the  roots. Pull the root ball out of the earth.
Using a poker the size of the drainage hole, open the hole and, using your poker, create drainage in the planting soil within the pot, working through the drainage hole.
Find or create some appropriate lifters for the pot. Here I am using pieces of concrete block.
Mike 2- 4-12
Reposition the pot atop the lifters.
Cross your fingers. Most plants which display browning are already dead. Ivy is amazingly tough, but I’m not optimistic.
Mike 1- 4-12
Check your other pots, especially those sitting directly on the earth. Lifters help discourage these problems.

Mike Rushing

Mike and Paula Rushing have been gardening in St. Clair county since 1990, and In Forest Park since 2007. A Jefferson County Master Gardener and course instructor at Master Gardening classes, Mike also volunteers weekly at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

3 thoughts on “Proper Drainage Saves Your Plants From a Watery Grave

  1. Practical gardening—thanks. I always cautioned customers to use a shiv to break contact with the ground for 2 reasons. One was to prevent a vacuum forming between the pot and soil and 2 was to prevent water absorption from the ground during the winter that could ultimately crack the pot. I believe every outdoor container should have “footsies”.

  2. This is exactly what happen to my pot a couple of weeks ago. I thought dirt had stopped it up until my son in law pushed it over on the side and I discovered a root from the ground had grown up inside and blocked the pot. I did the exact same thing you did. Yea, I just did it and now I know I did the Correct action. Thanks for posting. I had not run into this situation and did not have a clue what to do.

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