Planting Succulents In Containers Without Drainage

Succulents are plants that have thick and fleshy parts. This is to retain water. They are suitable to be grown in areas where sufficient quantities of water are not available, especially in the arid climatic regions. This is because succulents can retain up to 90-95 percent water in their leaves and stems. Growing and maintaining them is not a difficult job as most succulents can live on for years and years without being much attended to. They just require light, plant food, and watering, which can be done occasionally.

Nonetheless, while growing succulents, one of our primary concerns could be whether succulents really require a proper drainage system or is it possible planting succulents in containers without drainage. Can we also indulge in growing succulents in glass containers, or will this rot the root of the plant? In this article, I will tell you do succulents need drainage, or they can grow without them too, perfectly fine!

Do Succulents Need Drainage?

Do succulents need drainage is one of the most commonly asked questions? Succulents are essentially drought-loving plants as they are accustomed to storing water in their leaves and stems from staying a longer period of time without being watered. But, when a proper drainage system is not provided for them, the water tends to sit stagnant at the base of the container, causing its roots to get rotten. Root rots are usually very difficult to detect as they take place below the soil’s surface, which is inaccessible for us. If root rots start taking place once, there is usually no going back as it is not treatable. Sometimes, when we turn our favorite artistic pots and containers into succulent pots, it gets challenging to make drainage holes in there. In that case, growing them without any drainage hole is the only option we are left with. If we opt for growing them without drainage holes, we must be willing to be extra attentive and responsible towards them. For growing our succulents in containers without proper drainage, we must make sure we never overwater them. 

Do Succulents Grow Better With Or Without Drainage?

Planting in containers without drainage is common when people wish to decorate their homes with these beautiful plants. However, succulents need a specific way by which they can drain out the excess water and maintain their optimum health. Although it is possible to grow succulents in containers without any drainage system, yet it increases the risk of damaging the plant and even causing it to die eventually. Succulents can usually survive for an extended period of time, but they can perish if they are made to grow in adverse conditions. Growing succulents in containers with zero drainage increases the risk of water getting collected at the bottom of the container, leading to the rotting of the roots. We can easily grow our succulents in any container of our choice, as long as at least one drainage hole is present. If we are determined to grow succulents in glass containers without drainage, we must follow the methods mentioned above and keep in mind to never water them to an excessive level.

Drainage System Ideally Required For Succulents

Water is one of the most essential components for a plant to remain healthy and to grow. For which, drainage holes are very crucial, even for succulents. The drainage system allows the excess water to pass out of the container, thereby helping prevent moisture from being collected at the pot’s base. Succulents retain water in the tissues, stems and leaves, so if the water is sitting stagnant at the base of the container for long, it will rot the root of the succulent. But can you indulge in planting succulents in pots without drainage holes? 

The answer would be YES. When it comes to succulents, planting in containers without drainage can work very well for these types of plants as they can in containers with no drainage. Once we have mastered the process of planting succulents in pots without drainage holes, we can make them survive for very long periods of time. We usually consider having succulents grow in containers without drainage when we recycle other containers into succulent pots. In those containers, having drainage holes is not always possible. As I mentioned earlier, a proper drainage system is required for succulents so as to ensure that our plants are not overwatered. So, planting succulents in containers without drainage is only possible when you ensure not to overwater them. This is the only way how to plant succulents in pots without drainage holes. 

Reasons For Not Growing Succulents Without Drainage

All plants need a proper drainage system to live and grow. That is so that the excess water can seep through. However, planting succulents in containers without drainage is possible. But why would one do so? What could be the possible reasons why people decide upon planting succulents in pots without drainage holes.

Well, the reasons could be plenty. If a succulent is hanging from a certain height and is placed in the planter, then having a drainage hole in that planter might not be the best idea, as water will leak from the planter, which is placed on a height. In such a case, planting succulents in pots without drainage holes is the best possible plan you could go for. 

Another possible reason for not opting for a drainage system for your plant can be if you are using any kind of decorative or glass container, which technically and practically has no possibility for a drainage system to be created. In such situations, growing succulents in glass containers can be possible.

How To Plant Succulents In Pots Without Drainage Holes?

If due to any reason, you decide upon planting succulents in pots without drainage holes or growing succulents in glass containers, then you must properly research the various other requirements of the succulents. That is, how much light, water, fertilizers, etc. does it need.

We must also make sure that we have proper water draining soil so as to properly plant our succulents. How to plant succulents in pots without drainage holes is easy.

You Just Need To Follow These Simple Steps:

  1. First, we need to properly layer the pot with gravel and pebbles. The size of the rocks to be placed depends on the pot as well as the succulent that we are planning to grow. For example, if our pot is five-inch deep, then using pebbles with ¼ inch diameter is suitable. Clay pebbles and lava rocks can be used for creating the bays as these are extremely porous.
  2. Then we have to spread half-inch layer of charcoal over the rock. Charcoal is added so that it absorbs the impurities and odours, as the pot is devoid of any drainage system.
  3. We would then have to put the last layer of soil pot. We must remember to use well-drained soil so that water can evaporate easily, and there is no excess water that can rot the root.
  4. Then we will have to fill the surrounding of the root ball with a mix of succulents which will be topped with 1/4 layer of worm compost.
  5. After adding the succulents into the pot, we would let it sit for initially five to seven days, after which we are supposed to water them.

This is a simple method of planting succulents in pots without drainage holes.

Watering A Succulent Living In Pots Without Drainage

If you are planting succulents in containers without drainage, you must know that watering these plants will require a different method and timeline. If you, due to any reason, ignore the suitable planting needs, your plant will not grow. You can use a moisture meter before you water the plants. In this case, you have to take a moisture meter and put it in the soil, wait for some time, and check the moisture level present in the soil. If the level of moisture is low, then you must water the succulent. This way, you can always get to know if your plant needs some watering.

If not this, then you can also use a chopstick or a clean skewer to check the level of moisture present in the soil. For that, you would just have to dip in the skewer or chopstick into the soil. If you notice that the soil is sticking to your chopstick or if the skewer seems to have gotten wet, then this is a sign of watering your succulent.

Another great way of ensuring that you don’t overwater is by using large syringes or watering cups to water the succulents. Measuring cups have water level indicators that help you measure the proper levels of water.

General Frequency Of Watering Succulents In Glass Containers And In Pots Without Drainage Holes

It is a known fact that succulents do not have to be very frequently watered. However, the general frequency of watering succulents wholly and solely depends on the kind of succulents you are dealing with. From cactus to snake tongues to echeveria, all these succulents have different needs when it comes to watering.

Especially if you are planting succulents in containers without drainage, you must be very careful about the watering cycle of the plants. As in this case, the plant might need even less watering than when kept in pots with drainage holes. If watered too much, the plants can suffer root rot. However, there are plenty of ways to find out if the succulent has been watered too much. 

How To Find Out If The Succulent Has Been Watered ‘Too Much’?

If you feel that your succulent has been over-watered, ye must check for these signs. These are some of the signals that your plant gives you to tell you to water it less frequently.

  1. The top of the soil has a layer of stagnant water.
  2. The soil constantly feels moist and damp.
  3. There is a noticeable growth of algae or moss at the top of the soil.
  4. The leaves tend to turn yellow or look super bloated.
  5. The roots start to turn black or dark brown.

One must look for these early symptoms of root rot. However, if your plant is showing some of the signals, the first step should be to limit the water you put into the plant. The next step would be to take a necessary option like removing the plant from the pot and allowing it to dry out. Another step could be to trim the roots which have gone black so that the damage just doesn’t spread.

Placement Of The Succulent If Planting In Containers Without Drainage

Now that we know the answer for do succulents need drainage, we also need to know where to exactly place them so that they bloom, flourish, and flower. If you are considering planting them outdoors, let me tell you, it would not be a great idea to place them outside when they are growing without drainage. This is because we wouldn’t have any control over the rain. Since the plant would not have drainage, the water could accumulate inside, and the plant could die. Therefore, unless we have a shielded outdoor space, we must never place them outside.

Hence, it is best to place these plants indoors, where there is ample light for them to survive.

Growing Succulents In Glass Containers

There is no denying that glass containers look elegant. However, their composition is very tricky and they could be suffocating our succulents. In order to make sure our plants can properly grow in the glass containers; we must make sure to provide plenty of air flow for our succulents. 

To make sure that your succulent grows well in the glass container, make sure that you add in a crushed layer of charcoal, so that there is no algae growth. Another thing to make sure, is to add a proper soil mix, and then add pebbles or gravel. These will ensure that the water flow is perfect and the roots are healthy. 

If you are growing succulents in glass containers, make sure to follow the correct methods if you want your plant to bloom and flourish.

Should We Really Grow Succulents In Glass Pots Or Containers?

Succulents are usually known to be hardy plants that can live in difficult and harsh conditions, but they are very prone to be overwatered. If we are planning on growing our succulents in glass containers, we should never forget that these containers do not have drainage holes. Having no drainage holes in the container is an advantage if we are growing the succulent indoors. If we are determined to grow the succulents in a glass container for decorating our space, we must keep in mind to choose the right kind of soil mix for our succulents. 

We must also take proper care to never overwater the succulent growing in a glass container as it does not have an appropriate drainage system. So if we want to decorate our home with the help of a succulent growing in a glass container, we can certainly do that without facing any difficulty, as long as we keep in mind these few things. 

An important factor we should keep in mind before we decide to plant it in a glass container is the hierarchy of the plant. Maintaining the order and hierarchy is significant and crucial, only if we plan on growing more than one succulent in the glass container. 

First, we will have to choose a centerpiece that will stand out in our succulent pot. After that, we will have to select the other filler plants that would complement our succulent look. We must also do proper research to find out which succulents are adaptable to each other and can grow together. Succulent of the same species with similar lighting and watering needs are easier to grow.


While planting succulents in containers without drainage can look bewildering, but knowing exactly how to plant succulents in pots without drainage holes can make your succulents flourish and bloom. All you need to remember while placing your succulent in a glass container or any pot without drainage holes is that it must be watered not very frequently, and you must use the methods mentioned above to check whether your plant needs to be watered or not. This is because you do not want to overwater your plants, leading to root rot and ultimately killing your plant.


Nikita is a Succulent lover. She really enjoys planting and nourishing them. She loves to share information about various Succulents on this blog to aware people more about these awesome plants.

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