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I can’t help but feel that I’m hurting my little bulbs of joy by housing them in pots that don’t have drainage holes.Jaco Wolmarans/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Dear design community,

I’m a plant mom with a plant qualm. You see, during the course of the pandemic, my indoor garden consisting of a baby rubber plant, several types of pothos, caladium, a massive philodendron, aloe and more have thrived thanks to the extra TLC I’ve given them while housebound.

But for all my maintenance and mothering, plus my ardent devotion to “plant gurus” such as Maryah Greene and Hilton Carter, I can’t help but feel that I’m hurting my little bulbs of joy by housing them in pots that don’t have drainage holes.

While the planters I’ve accumulated are of course attractive, some hand-painted locally, others boasting retro glazes, they all have closed bottoms, which, from the increasing amount of information I gather (and Greene’s occasional reminders), aren’t doing my living, breathing and water-drinking buds any favours.

Every good plant parent knows that proper drainage is key to keeping your charges happy; potting mix that’s too moist can cause dreaded root rot and even entice unwelcome guests into your plant’s immediate surroundings. Before you know it, leaves wilt, droop, brown and disembark from their stems to fall sadly to soil.

What’s really at the root of my problem here is that I feel perpetually set up for failure in a caretaking undertaking that I already acknowledge is a trial-by-error endeavour.Ekaterina Zolina/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

When this happens, a frustrating internet search will yield vague results including “your problem might be overwatering.” Looking around at my assortment of vintage and newly crafted pots has made my motherly instinct ping. Surely changing the habitat of my plant is just the thing!

Yet countless trips to charming lifestyle boutiques and craft fairs, antique shops and the websites of many a fab ceramicist have gone to pot in terms of coming up with bottom-holed planters. And in some cases, the pots I’ve found have had holes but no tray for underneath. (The missed opportunities for an upsell are vast.)

To combat my soggy soil issues for the immediate future, I’ve turned to putting aquarium rocks in my pots for water to at least drain through, if not out entirely. It’s not ideal for more reasons than one. And honestly, I’m not even sure it always works.

Consider plants that are said to prefer being watered from the bottom up; that is, leaving them to soak up moisture rather having it rain down on them. Snake plants, African violets and even that most alluring but finicky of houseplants, the Fiddle Leaf Fig, are said to prefer bottom-watering. Won’t anyone think of these chlorophyll-filled children, please?

Countless trips to charming lifestyle boutiques and craft fairs, antique shops and the websites of many a fab ceramicist have gone to pot in terms of coming up with bottom-holed planters.Jorge L Moro/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

What’s really at the root of my problem here is that I feel perpetually set up for failure in a caretaking undertaking that I already acknowledge is a trial-by-error endeavour. How much water is too much? Ditto with light. Thrips, come at me, I have a magnifying glass for finding you and neem oil at the ready for your eradication. Sure, there are chat rooms and even apps that can help to guide me through the routine of caring for my plants. But the vessels in which they reside, be they hand-hewn or mass produced, often miss the mark when it comes to fostering a hospitable atmosphere.

While I wait for makers to take heed of my plight, I’ll peruse the wares of brands such as Copenhagen’s Berg Potter and the hand-crafted California Planter collection offered by Toronto’s Dynasty Plant Shop; they feature drainage holes and trays, and come in a pleasing host of aesthetic options. After all, your plants deserve beautiful homes. I only wish this beauty came with practicality in mind, too.

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