how to drill holes in planters

by Kaylah Stroup

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face planter

face planter

I will only plant things in containers with holes in the bottom. Period. No exceptions. You can try to tell me that rocks in the bottom provide proper drainage but I’m not buying it. A way for excess water to escape is the only way to go. Otherwise, even with rocks in the bottom, if you’re thoroughly watering your roots will eventually be sitting in water which can lead to root rot.

For the longest time, I avoided pots without holes because I didn’t realize how easy it was to drill my own. Years and years ago, I had asked my dad to drill a hole for me but he refused after I tried to make him promise wouldn’t break my pot. I felt like if my dad couldn’t do it, it can’t be done buuut that thinking is clearly flawed because I’ve started drilling my own holes and knock on wood I’ve had zero breaks!

Doing this is literally so easy you probably don’t even need a post to tell you how but I wish I had found a post like this years and years ago just to give me the confidence to try it out for myself. I think once you’ve done it once or twice you really get the feel for it and will start to even hunt down pots without holes – I have!

how to drill a hole in a planter

Supplies needed –

  • a drill
  • glass + tile bit (I’m using 5/16 inch)
  • ceramic pot that needs a hole
  • rag to catch dust
  • occasionally, a water bottle.

All you do is turn the pot upside down and start drilling. The key is to take it easy though. Apply pressure but not too much. I’ve found that some are super easy and go through like butter and others take a bit more elbow work.

On tougher pots, the bit might start to get a bit hot in which case I like to spritz a bit of water on it. That keeps your bit from prematurely wearing out, it also keeps the dust down. Spritzing every pot isn’t a necessity though. I’ve also found that coming in at a bit of an angle after already getting the hole started helps open it up more quickly.

That’s all! Super easy. All it takes is the correct drill bit and a bit of patience. For your first one, practice on a pot you wouldn’t be totally upset if it broke and that should give you all the confidence you need to go through and make holes in your whole collection!

hand planter

dog face planter

dog planter / for planters with uneven tops like this one I hold them between my legs while I drill. (be careful, please.)

Seriously, this is stupid easy. Buy this drill bit, charge up that drill and get to making holes. Your plants will thank you!

drill a hole in a planter

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Cecile March 4, 2020 - 9:11 am

Thanks for the post! I was really scared of trying to drill holes, but now, I can’t wait this weekend to go buy the proper bit and go for it! A few months ago, I started to take some pottery classes and I start to accumulate countless of not-so-symetrical-and-definitively-not-the-proper-shape-to-be-useful-in-the-kitchen pots that would be perfect for plants if they had holes… Thanks to this post, they will soon 🙂 I’m so excited!
A question though: in your pictures, most of your pots don’t have little plates to catch leftover water and dirt under them… How do you manage to keep your table clean?

Kaylah Stroup March 4, 2020 - 7:51 pm

For the ones without plates, I normally just water in the sink. I like to water super thoroughly anyway so this just gives me the excuse to do so and rinse the leaves off while I’m at it.

Mary Green March 4, 2020 - 10:00 am

I’ve found a little piece of masking or painters tape right where you want the hole helps keep the edges from chipping too.🌱

dodgyholiday March 4, 2020 - 12:58 pm

Just thought I’d add a tip I learnt from my dad who’s a builder and often drills tiles and things, if you’re drilling glazed ceramic it can help a lot to place a piece of masking or washi tape where you want to drill as it will stop the drill piece from slipping on the glossy surface 🙂

Kaylah Stroup March 4, 2020 - 7:47 pm

You know, I read that tip but honestly had no issues at all with the drill slipping. Didn’t want to add an unncessary step. 🙂

how's it growing! - THE DAINTY SQUID March 12, 2020 - 11:00 am

[…] Okay, so I actually found a lot of really great planters in the last month. Just look at this silly little kitty one. It doesn’t fit my rule of ‘only black, white or black and white’ planters but I definitely had to make an exception – also grey is neutral anyway. (I did have to drill a hole in it but here’s how!) […]

Margaret forsey March 15, 2020 - 11:51 am

Thank you for this, Kaylah! I, too, only use planters with drainage holes in them. I have never had happy, healthy plants in pots with gravel. However, this means that you miss out on a lot of cute planters! I am definitely going to get a ceramic drill bit and try this out. Yay!

20+ cute planters (that won't break the bank!) - THE DAINTY SQUID June 29, 2021 - 9:30 am

[…] holes but if you end up with one without, it’s super easy to drill your own. Check out my how to drill holes in planters […]

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