Cultivate Simple Podcast in iTunes Chiot's Run on Facebook Chiot's Run on Twitter Chiot's Run on Pinterest Chiot's Run on Flickr RSS Feed StumbleUpon

What to Put in the Bottom of a Pot?

May 29th, 2009

There are all kinds of things you can put in the bottom of a pot before you fill it. Some people use rocks, others use pieces of broken pottery, some people use packing peanuts and others use those little special plastic inserts that are made just for that purpose.
I used to use rocks, but then I got sick of picking rocks out of my potting soil when I put it into the compost bin, so I started using broken pieces of pottery. I soon ran out of those since I pot up so many plants each spring, so I started using pieces of landscaping cloth.
I find that this works particularly well for me. When I empty the pot I simply pull off the piece of fabric and put it back in the pot so it’s ready to go next spring.
What do you use in the bottom of your potted plants?

20 Comments to “What to Put in the Bottom of a Pot?”
  1. Mangochild on May 29, 2009 at 7:05 am

    I’ve never thought really about putting anything in the bottom of potted plants; I’ve just had the usual drainage holes, and occasionally some bits of mossy stuff. What do the different materials do?

    Mangochild’s last blog post.. First Fruits…

    Reply to Mangochild's comment

    • Susy on May 29, 2009 at 8:17 am

      It keep your soil in the pot and it’s suppose to help with drainage, or so I’ve read.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Daphne on May 29, 2009 at 8:30 am

    I used to put rocks in the bottom of pots, but every experiment that I’ve read about shows there is no benefit to it. The soil drains just as well without them. So now I put nothing in the bottom. I might lose just a tiny bit of soil out the holes, but not much.

    Daphne’s last blog post.. Lettuce Bed

    Reply to Daphne's comment

  3. Mike on May 29, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Whenever we pot up a large container of flowers or even vegetables straw is used as a fill in to make the pot lighter. I like your idea of useing the square of landscaping fabric to keep the soil from leaking out. It seems like that would slow down the water loss as well, I’ll have to try that.

    Mike’s last blog post.. Planting Tomatoes

    Reply to Mike's comment

    • Jack on June 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Hey Mike.
      You said you use straw in the bottom of the container. I want to do that with my tomato plants, what are the implications? can the straw make the roots rot, would it suck nutrients (as some people say), would it harm the plant, make it unstable?

      I would be very glad if you share your experience on that matter.

      Reply to Jack's comment

  4. Kim on May 29, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Usually a torn scrap of newspaper because I’ve run out of the little terra cotta pot saucers I turn upside down in the really big pots. Sometimes I’ll use some broken pot shards, but I hate picking them out of the compost pile. Newspaper composts, so it fits my lazy gardening style.

    Kim’s last blog post.. Kitchen Garden Update, May 25 2009

    Reply to Kim's comment

    • Susy on May 29, 2009 at 9:20 am

      Newspaper is a great idea, I’ll have to keep that in mind when I use up all of my landscaping fabric.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. marcyincny on May 29, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Used coffee filters.

    marcyincny’s last blog post.. Me Mum

    Reply to marcyincny's comment

    • Susy on May 29, 2009 at 9:20 am

      That’s a great idea! I use coffee filters for so many things around the house, I’m surprised I never thought of this.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Andee on May 29, 2009 at 9:53 am

        I slightly flatten large coffee filters I buy from a restaurant supply house and use them as covers for food in the microwave. They double for a litle counter wipedown after the quick bite. I’m really not that OC about cleaning but exploded veggie soup all over the microwave makes me a little crazy.

        to Andee's comment

    • Chris on April 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      me too

      Reply to Chris's comment

  6. Andres on May 29, 2009 at 9:06 am

    I have used pot shards and aluminum cans that were waiting to be recycled, and just yesterday I started using newspaper instead.

    Andres’s last blog post.. Around the Garden

    Reply to Andres's comment

  7. warren on May 29, 2009 at 9:28 am

    We seem to have flat shale rocks (I guess) and I always use them…flat and thin and everywhere!

    warren’s last blog post.. Our pal Franco Harris

    Reply to warren's comment

  8. Mary on May 29, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I use a piece of paper – whatever is on hand that doesn’t have any colored ink on it. This year it was thick plotter paper from work that we recycle regularly. When the pot gets emptied into the compost, the paper goes with and I use something else next year.

    Reply to Mary's comment

  9. lee on May 29, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Bonsai places have plastic netting for drainage holes. They come in small rolls and you just cut them up the size you want. They are very sturdy so you can reuse them forever.

    Reply to lee's comment

  10. Judy on May 29, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Great idea to use the landscaping fabric! I don’t grow many things in pots so when I did, I usually tried to find some rocks or gravel to put in the bottom. But I really like your idea better. I do use the landscape fabric to line the inside of my raised beds.

    Judy’s last blog post.. It’s Been A Great Friday – May 29, 2009

    Reply to Judy's comment

  11. Jan Cline on April 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I use vinyl window screening.. I cut little pieces from a roll from the hardware store.

    Reply to Jan Cline's comment

  12. Lynne on May 10, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    When I am planting flowers in LARGE pots; it takes alot of potting soil. So I have used pop cans to help fill up the space so I don’t have to use so much potting soil. Have also tried packing peanuts and they work just as well. I have also used rocks/pebbles in the bottoms to help with drainage.

    Reply to Lynne's comment

  13. Mark on April 11, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I use old wore out plastic scrubbies from dish washing. I’ve also used worn out Scotch-Brite pads from 3M used for polishing metals. Be sure to wash them thoroughly before using them.

    Reply to Mark's comment

  14. Barbara Armo on May 27, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Nix on packing peanuts! They are all but impossible to remove from roots and soil when you re-pot. When I wore pantyhose, I cut those up. I have been using my abundance of small pinecones.They close up when wet, but I still don’t use too many. LOVE the idea of the plastic screen material, which is very cool. Can be sewn.

    Reply to Barbara Armo's comment

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Reading & Watching

Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:

It's been a dry May here in Ohio. Usually we have a fairly wet spring and we only get dry...