This article is an overview of 12 plants that don’t require drainage.

These plants offer you the opportunity to grow plants in beautiful and unusual containers without having to drill drainage holes. They will tolerate wet soil longer than other plants or they will even grow in water.

Read on to find out what choices you have for plants that will do well under these conditions.

What plants don’t need drainage holes

You actually have an abundance of choices for indoor plants that don’t need drainage holes.

Here are 12 of them:

  1. Sprenger’s Asparagus Fern
  2. Adam’s Rib
  3. Chinese Evergreen
  4. Snake Plant
  5. Dumb Cane
  6. Umbrella Schefflera
  7. Coleus
  8. Croton
  9. Pothos
  10. Lucky Bamboo
  11. Spider Plant
  12. Rough Horsetail

Even though they can tolerate containers without drainage holes, it’s best not to overwater these plants if at all possible unless their care dictates boggy conditions.

We recommend that a layer of pebbles, stones, or broken bits of clay pots be placed at the bottom of a container that does not have drainage holes. This creates a way for the water to move away from the roots if the plant is being grown in soil. It’s an entirely different matter, of course, if the plant is being grown in water. No need for this layer.

One way to grow any houseplant in a container without drainage is to fill the bottom of a larger container with about an inch of pebbles. Then place your indoor plant that is housed in a properly-drained pot into the larger container. You can even fill the sides up with gravel with a layer of potting soil on top to complete the disguise.

However, this article concentrates on 12 indoor plants that will do well in a container without drainage holes.

1. Sprenger’s asparagus fern

Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’ or Sprenger’s asparagus fern is actually a member of the lily family. This beautiful fern grows well in both water or in moist but draining soil, so it is a great candidate for a pot without drainage holes. It is lovely in hanging baskets as it has long, arching stems up to three feet long that cascade over the sides of the pot. The plant has a delicate look with each stem being covered by short, needle-like leaflets.

Sprenger’s asparagus fern is a humidity-loving houseplant. Optimal care includes misting the leaves daily to provide the desired humidity. If the indoor air is too dry, the leaves will drop so regular misting is helpful. The plant should be allowed to dry out a little between each watering but not so that it becomes completely dry.

This plant likes indirect, but bright light, so north or east windows are ideal. If you can’t place it in a window, artificial light works well. Avoid placing it near vents that will dry the leaves out and cause them to drop. Like most house plants a monthly fertilizing, with a balanced formula, from spring to fall is beneficial.

2. Adam’s rib

Monstera deliciosa, the Adam’s rib plant, is native to the tropics. Often, you will see one or two leaves of this plant placed in a glass vase with water in interior design. Adam’s rib plants have large green leaves that are divided like ribs. The large leaves grow up to 18 inches in length.

Adam’s rib is a climber and will cling well to walls and vertical spaces. It is easy to care for and likes a bright space indoors but not in direct sunshine as that will burn the leaves. The plant will happily live in a pot for its entire life without good drainage as the root system is non-invasive. However, the roots should not be sitting in water.

Water frequently to keep the soil evenly moist, usually about twice a week. Over the winter months, watering can be reduced to once a week. An early spring fertilizing with a balanced fertilizer is best. This is also the best time to prune Adam’s rib to keep growth in check for the space in which it resides.

3. Chinese evergreen

Aglaonenema Maria, or Chinese evergreen, enjoys a moist peat-based potting soil, although like many plants it does not want to sit in endlessly soggy media. This makes it a good candidate to grow in a pot without drainage. Weekly watering should suffice but try not to let the plant dry out. It will require more water during the active growing season than during the lower-light winter months.

Chinese evergreens are almost indestructible. They will bounce back after a forgotten watering and can withstand low light conditions. This makes them a great choice for beginner indoor gardeners. However, take note that the leaves are considered toxic to dogs and cats.

As they are native to shady tropical forests in Southeast Asia, they do best in rooms without bright light. A windowless room is fine as artificial light is sufficient for growth. Direct sunshine on the leaves can burn them. A moderate room temperature is best as they don’t like hot or cold and drafty conditions.

4. Snake plant

Dracaena trifasciata, or Snake plant, is also called Mother-in-law’s tongue, Saint George’s sword, and Viper’s bowstring hemp. This plant is native to West Africa’s tropical areas. It gets its many names from the shape of its long, sword-like leaves that grow upright. The fiber in the leaves has been used to make bowstrings.

They are easy plants to grow and very hard to kill: great for beginners! Additionally, the Snake plant cleans indoor air of some of the major toxins that cause sick building syndrome. Light requirements for the plant encompass conditions from a darker corner to indirect light. They do not, however, enjoy a bright sunny window, which is too much light for them.

You can usually water your Snake plant every two weeks or up to every six weeks depending upon where in your house it is located. Overwatering is more of a problem for this plant than long, dry periods. The one thing the Snake Plant really does not like is to have their leaves wet. This can cause it to rot so it’s best to avoid getting the leaves wet when you are watering.

5. Dumb cane

Dieffenbachia amoena, or Dumb cane, is a water-loving tropical plant that can survive in a pot without drainage. It has wide leaves and can grow up to six feet in height. Native to the West Indies, it is another good choice for beginners because of its easy-going and forgiving nature. You can make mistakes with its care and still have a living Dumb cane, but remember it is toxic to dogs, cats, and children, and the sap will irritate your skin.

This plant will do well under any light conditions with the exception of direct, bright light. Full sun will burn the leaves but some growth will continue even in full shade. That gives you many possible location options in your home. There is also a wide range of temperatures the plant will tolerate, from 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dumb cane does best in moist soil even though it will tolerate a lack of water for some time. The lovely, large leaves enjoy a periodic misting, although it is not critical. It grows well in almost any type of soil other than one with a lot of sand. Like most plants, it will benefit from monthly fertilizing of a balanced fertilizer during the growing months.

6. Umbrella schefflera

Schefflera actinophylla, or the Umbrella schefflera plant (also called the Octopus tree), is a good choice for indoor containers without drainage. Its care is easy. All you need to do is water the plant well when dry, enough to saturate the soil. If the leaves begin to yellow you have over-watered so back off on the watering and allow the soil to dry.

This native to Northeastern Australia and New Guinea, will grow up to 50 feet tall in the wild. It will make a nice six-to-fifteen-foot addition to your house or office living in a fancy pot without drainage holes. The bright green palm-shaped leaves have seven to sixteen leaflets. These leaflets radiate outward like an umbrella.

Direct sun is preferred by the Umbrella schefflera but it will grow fine in lesser light conditions. Simple care like annual fertilizing with a general-purpose fertilizer makes it another good choice for a beginner gardener. Cuttings from the Umbrella schefflera can be grown in water in an attractive container as an interior design element.

7. Coleus

Coleus blumei, or Coleus plants, typically have colorful leaves in shades of pink, red, and purple with a green border. Coleus is also known as painted nettle or poor man’s croton. These plants are native to the tropics of Southeast Asia and the soil needs to be kept moist. Another easy-to-grow plant, it is suitable for pots without drainage and for beginner gardeners.

Coleus tolerates a variety of light conditions from a bright sunny window to a darker spot in your home. The leaf color will be most vivid in a full sun location. This plant is often sold in garden nurseries as an annual and makes a great basket filler in addition to a house plant. They can easily be propagated from seed or from cuttings.

Well-drained soil is best for these plants. Coleus can be started in water but eventually needs to be moved to a soil media. Keep the soil moist for best results. Fertilizing during the active growing season is optimal.

8. Croton

Codiaeum variegatum, or Croton is a colorful tropical plant that loves a humid, tropical environment. Croton is native to Oceana and Southeast Asia. It will do fine in a pot without drainage if the soil drains well. If you add peat moss to the soil, it assists with the creation of good drainage for the roots.

In the wild, Croton plants are actually shrubs that can grow up to ten feet in height. All parts of the plant are poisonous so keep it away from children and pets. It has beautiful green, yellow, and dark red leaves but the sap from the leaves is a skin irritant. Place it in a sunny window and mist it periodically for optimum growth.

Water the plants when the soil at the top is dry. You can grow cuttings of this plant in water successfully. The thicker the cutting, the better the rate of success. It will take about five weeks for the Croton to generate roots.

9. Pothos

Epipremnum aureum, is the scientific name for the tropical houseplant commonly called Pothos or Devil’s Ivy. This native to the forest floors in southeastern Asia has trailing vines with heart-shaped leaves that can easily extend out to 10 feet. This is another plant that is toxic to small children and pets. It is incredibly low maintenance and very hard to kill.

Low light conditions are fine for Pothos to survive, although they will do better in brighter light but not direct sunlight. Watering should occur only once the soil has dried out. If you forget to water for a while, the plant will forgive you but the older leaves may yellow and wither. One of the benefits of this plant, besides its ability to withstand neglect, is that it can purify the inside air.

Pothos plants make nice hanging baskets with their vining growth habit. The plant can be pruned to control the shape and to keep the length in check. Because of its ability to survive low light conditions, it can add some green to a darker office or bathroom space. It also helps to clean the indoor air removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide.

10. Lucky bamboo

Dracaena sanderiana, or Lucky bamboo, is not actually bamboo. It is part of the Asparagaceae family and is a native of Central Africa. It grows well in either water or soil. Growing in water is easy as all that is required is a change of distilled or rainwater every seven to ten days. This makes it perfect for containers without drainage holes.

Lucky bamboo does well with indirect light conditions. But higher light levels encourage greater growth. There is no need to fertilize this plant, just provide it with warm temperatures from 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important to remember that Lucky bamboo is toxic to cats and so should be kept out of their reach.

One interesting thing you can do with Lucky bamboo is to curl the shape of the stalks with wire. Young stems naturally will bend toward the light and can be trained to curl. Copper wire is bent into a spiral shape with the bottom end of the wire twisted around the base of the bamboo. Wrap the spiral around the bamboo stem and turn it periodically in the sun to encourage the plant to bend toward the sun.

11. Spider plant

Chlorophytum comosum, or spider plant, comes from the southern tropical parts of Africa. The leaves of this plant are slim and emanate from a pot like spider legs. They are common indoor houseplants that are great for beginners. They take little care and can be started in distilled or rainwater when the plantlets are very young.

Well-drained potting soil is best for growth as is moderate light. Direct sunlight is not optimum for the Spider plant as it can sunburn. Watering should occur once a week during the summer months but the soil should be allowed to become dry in between watering in the winter.

The tips of Spider plants will sometimes turn brown. These can be trimmed off during the active growing months. A sharp, sterile knife should be used for the trimming. The leaf tips will scab over and the plant with continue to grow unfazed.

12. Rough horsetail

Rough horsetail, Equisetum hyemale, is also called Scouring rush. It resembles miniature striped bamboo but it is a type of fern that can be quite invasive. Rough horsetail is native to Europe, North America, and Asia. It grows well in boggy areas with lots of moisture.

For many centuries, the stem of the Rough horsetail was used for tooth and gum care. As they are high in the mineral silica, they were also used to scrub pots and pans. It is another hardy, easy-to-grow houseplant that is good for beginners. If you overwater this plant living in a pot without drainage, it will still survive quite nicely.

This plant will tolerate a wide range of soil types, as long as it is kept moist. They will also grow in part shade, part sun, or full sun, so they provide great versatility for placement in your home. Water Rough horsetail a couple of times a week, unless it is sitting in a pot of water. Fertilize every couple of months during the active growing season.

Grow plants in pots without drainage holes

For successful plant growth in pots without drainage holes, there are a few general recommendations to follow.

The first tip is to water moderately, and only a little at a time. It is important to water the plant a bit, check the soil, and then add more water as required. If you accidentally add excess water, it is best to flip the pot to drain it so that the plant is not sitting in water.

For planting in pots without drainage holes, you can create a drainage layer with the addition of stones or pebbles in the bottom of your pot. This allows extra water to move away from the roots of the plants. Activated carbon can also be used as a drainage layer. It will absorb some of the excess water at the bottom of the pot, should you overwater.

It is always important to use the correct pot size for plants, but it is particularly true for house plants that don’t need drainage. Small sizes of pots should be used if there are no drainage holes. Additional problems will arise if you plant large plants in large pots that do not have drainage holes. It’s simply best to move to pots with drainage holes for larger plants.


So, there you have it. We have covered a dozen plants that can withstand living conditions without drainage holes.

Here is a quick summary of the information:

  • Sprenger’s asparagus fern will grow well in moist soil or in water
  • Adam’s rib needs moist soil but the roots do not like to sit in water
  • Chinese evergreen enjoys a moist, peat-based soil but not soggy
  • Snake plant does will with watering every few weeks or even less
  • Dumb cane does best in moist soil but will tolerate forgotten watering
  • Umbrella schlefflera likes to be watered well to saturate when it is dry
  • Coleus likes to live in soil that is kept moist
  • Croton likes peaty soil and needs to be watered when the soil is dry
  • Pothos should only be watered when it has dried out
  • Lucky bamboo will do equally well in water or soil
  • Spider plant should be watered once a week and allowed to dry in between
  • Rough horsetail needs to be watered a couple of times each week
  • In general, water these plants a little at a time so you don’t overwater
  • You can create a drainage layer at the bottom of the pot with pebbles
  • This layer of drainage allows water to move away from the roots

Most of these plants are easy to grow and great for beginners. They allow you to buy that beautiful pot that accessorizes your room perfectly. All it takes is a little knowledge about the watering needs and the right location for each plant and you can enjoy the fancy container without drainage holes.

Why not give it a try?

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