Spider plants do not necessarily need drainage. Planting a spider plant in a pot or container without drainage holes can certainly work, but so can using a container that does have drainage holes.
The difference is that when you use a pot without drainage, it is more difficult for the soil in the pot to dry out completely between waterings, which is necessary for the plant’s roots to have access to oxygen. Using a pot with drainage holes will significantly reduce the chances of overwatering the plant, because the holes allow excess water to flow out through the holes at the bottom of the pot. However, some people understandably prefer a pot without drainage holes, especially if the plant is indoors.
It is also possible to enhance the soil’s drainage in the pot using other materials, without necessarily needing holes.
In this article, we will discuss the reasons that drainage is important for your spider plant, as well as how to properly water a spider plant in a pot or container without drainage holes. So, if you are keen to learn more about this topic, then keep reading.
Can a spider plant grow in a pot with no drainage holes?
Yes, it is definitely possible for a spider plant to grow, and even thrive, in a pot or container that does not have drainage holes. Spider plants are more tolerant of water standing in their soil than most plants, so if you have your heart set on using a certain pot that does not have holes at the bottom, the spider plant is a great choice.
You just need to be aware of the plant’s water needs. You cannot just water it any time you like, because if you do not allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, this can lead to overwatering, which can then lead to a host of other problems that might ultimately kill your plant.
What are some problems that can arise if a spider plant is overwatered?
One of the problems that can occur if you plant your spider plant in a pot without drainage holes is a buildup of chemicals, nutrients and minerals in the soil around the plant’s roots.
These substances come from the tap water that you give the plant and from the fertilizer you use. They will keep accumulating around the plant over time, but this will happen faster if they cannot be flushed out through drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
These chemicals, minerals and nutrients can cause root burn and may be detrimental to the growth of the plant.
If you still want to use a pot that has no drainage holes, you can avoid this kind of buildup by repotting the plant periodically and replacing the soil in the pot with fresh soil.
Overwatering and root rot
The biggest potential problem when using a pot with no drainage holes is overwatering and subsequent root rot.
As we mentioned above, if using a pot without drainage holes, you should let the soil in the pot dry out completely before watering the plant again. If you are unable to do this, the soil around the plant’s roots will be constantly wet, which constitutes overwatering.
When a spider plant is overwatered, the plant’s roots will be standing constantly in soil that is waterlogged and soggy. Soggy soil around the roots means that the plant will not be able to absorb oxygen. Plants need to be able to absorb oxygen in the same way they need to absorb carbon dioxide, in order to survive. Thus, if the plant cannot get access to oxygen, it will essentially drown in the waterlogged soil.
The dead roots will then become vulnerable to opportunistic pathogens such as fungi, and will develop root rot. The root rot will spread quickly up towards the rest of the plant until the entire plant is affected and eventually dies.
Unfortunately, root rot is something that is difficult to catch in its early stages. The moment you spot symptoms such as stunted growth or drooping and yellowing leaves, it usually means the rot has taken hold of most of the plant and the chances of saving it are slim to none.
In most cases where a plant is saved from root rot, it is usually due to the owner spotting the early signs while repotting the plant.
What can I do if my spider plant’s pot does not have holes?
Make holes in the pot yourself
If the pot you are already using does not have holes, but you like it so much that you still wish to use it, you can always add holes at the bottom of the pot. Just make sure that the material the pot is made from will not break or split if you make holes in it.
Use a secret pot hidden inside the current pot
If there is a particular pot that you really want to use, but you also want the plant’s soil to be able to drain properly, you can always plant your spider plant in a smaller pot that does have drainage holes, and place this inside the prettier pot that does not have holes. The outer pot can then function as a decorative pot, rather than a functional one.
Add pebbles, gravel or charcoal to the soil
Add a layer of pebbles or charcoal at the very bottom of the pot before adding the potting soil on top of it. This layer at the bottom will act as a catcher of excess water from the soil, while also keeping the plant’s roots away from any excess water. This way, the soil itself will not be constantly waterlogged and will be able to dry out completely before the next watering.
You can also mix charcoal into the potting soil to help absorb excess moisture. Be sure to use activated charcoal and not the kind used for barbecues. When incorporating the charcoal, first place a layer at the bottom of the pot, then add a layer of potting soil on top of that, then add another layer of charcoal, and so on, until the pot is filled. Charcoal is very effective at absorbing excess moisture from the soil, thus allowing the soil to dry out quickly between waterings and reducing the risk of overwatering.
What other plants can be grown in pots with no drainage holes?
If you are still a beginner and have not quite mastered the balance of correctly watering your plants, your best bet is to use pots or containers that do have drainage holes. However, if you prefer the look of containers that do not have drainage holes, you might be better off choosing plants that can thrive in these types of containers.
Here are some examples of plants that do well in pots without drainage holes:
- Chinese evergreen
These plants are quite resilient when it comes to sitting in soil that is slightly overwatered. Yes, they can still be affected by too much water, but as long as the water is not constantly spilling over the top of the soil, they should be fine. Just remember always to check the soil in the plant’s pot before watering it again; if the soil is still damp, wait a few more days before checking it again.
Pothos make great hanging plants, especially indoors. Their vining leaves spill from the edges of a hanging basket, giving a fresher look and feel to any living space.
As long as your pothos’ basket is hung in a spot where it can get lots of bright, indirect light, the soil in the pot should be able to dry out fast enough between waterings that you will not have to deal with overwatering and possible root rot.
- Snake plant
The snake plant is often described as unkillable or indestructible, because apparently it takes a lot to kill it. It is both drought-resistant and tolerant of the occasional overwatering.
These plants do well in pots with no drainage holes because they so seldom need water.
In the warmer months, they only need to be watered once a month, and even less frequently during the colder months.
This plant requires very little actual care; you can leave it in your beautiful pot without drainage holes for weeks at a time and it should be perfectly fine.
Spider plants do not necessarily need drainage and can be planted in pots without drainage holes. As long as you do not overwater your plant and allow the soil to dry out completely in between waterings, it can thrive even if its container has no drainage holes at the bottom.
If you want to use a pot with no drainage holes but still reduce the risk of overwatering, you can either place pebbles, gravel or charcoal along with the soil in the pot to help keep the soil dry, or you can use a smaller pot with drainage holes and place that inside the pot without drainage holes.
Image: istockphoto.com / Pratchaya