How To Drill Holes in Plant Pots

updated May 6, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Michelle Chin)

I’m sure we all have them: plant pots sans drainage hole(s). Sure, sometimes they can be perfectly fine as a decorative piece. But if you want something living inside it, you will need a second, hidden planter inside that does have drainage holes. But you still run the risk of root rot from standing water unless you’ve placed gravel or something else in the bottom of the decorative planter. So, what can you do to remedy this? Create your own drainage hole!

1 / 11
And now you will have happy, well-drained plants (Image credit: Michelle Chin)

Many suppliers of planters seem more concerned with the decorative aspects of their wares than on the eventual good health of their future occupants. Instead of passing up a planter you otherwise like, this tutorial will show you how to fix it:

What You Need

A clean planter in need of a drainage hole
Small amount of water
Tarp (optional)

Drill, fully charged (mine is a hammer drill)
Diamond hole saw kit (can be purchased at Home Depot or other online retailers for around $20)


1. Gather your tools and clean, dry plant pot together.

2. Insert hole saw into drill and take the adhesive backing off one of the templates, place it on the hole saw guide, aligning the notches.

3. Then remove the other side of adhesive backing and place guide over area to drill. Without the guide in place, the drill will not stay put and can possible kick back and cause injury to you and/or the ceramic pot.

4. Begin drilling. It will probably make an awful screeching sound at first, but keep drilling while using the guide until you are at least 1/4″ down. Then you can remove the guide.

5. After removing the guide, you can add a tiny bit of water to keep the ceramic and diamond bit cool, but also to help soften the pottery. Cool pottery drills more easily than hot pottery.

6. Keep drilling, taking short breaks as necessary. Depending on the thickness of the pottery, this could be totally quick, or take up to 20 minutes total. The pot I was drilling was the latter. So, I stopped 4 or 5 times to give the drill motor a break.

7. If you feel that you are really close to breaking through, you can give a sharp tap from a hammer right in the center of the circle. If you are indeed close, it should pop out quite easily. If not, you’ll need to drill a bit longer. Once the hole is made, it’s time to fill with your favorite potting soil and get planting!

Additional Notes: You may want to do this on a tarp, a piece of old cardboard or something else that can’t be damaged. I took my chances on a concrete walkway, but I’m lucky I didn’t gouge it out with the drill bit.

The diamond hole saw kit was not with the rest of the drill bits in the tool section of the hardware store. Oddly, it was in the flooring section. Keep that in mind if you have trouble finding it in the store

(Images: Michelle Chin)

(Re-edited from a post originally published 7.25.11 – CM)