Cover drain holes with cloth or newspaper?

tomatotomataMarch 23, 2013

I've seen lots of suggestions here for drain hole coverage (landscape cloth, insect screen, etc.) but I don't have any of those things. I do have lots of newspaper.and old t-shirts. Any reason why these wouldn't be ok?

I use coffee filters successfully for houseplants, but I need something for my outdoor 16" pots, that's why I thought of newspaper.

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

What potting mix are you using? If it is peat-based you might have problems. With something like 5-1-1 or gritty mix, I might choose the old tshirt if it is cotton and fairly thin. I used Bounty paper towels once and I think they bonded with silt in the store bought soil-less mix I was using. The drainage was not good. Maybe you could do an experiment. Put some of your potting mix in a colander lined with the shirt or newspaper and pour water in. See how quickly and how much water drains out.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 4:50PM
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Ohiofem, the experiment is a good idea. I'll get right on it.

I will be using the 5-1-1 mix specifically to avoid the overwatering I had last year, so I'd hate to screw it up by creating bad drainage.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 5:52PM
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sutremaine(UK S.Wales 9)

Newspaper is fine if you open up some drainage holes yourself. Place damp newspaper on the bottom, fill the pot, and then poke a small hole in each exposed section of newspaper. It's not so much the silt that slows drainage. Unbroken expanses of newspaper can clog a pot freshly filled with gritty mix.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 10:08PM
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You still can use coffee filters, just cut them, put 1/2 over each of the holes (I am assuming there are few holes on bottom/edge); it drains better than newspaper & lasts longer too. I always wet the coffee filter so it sticks to sides before filling with the soil mix. Buy them in the dollar store...

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 12:55AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I save my old mesh bags that many vegetables come in just put the closed end in the pot, cutting off any of the mesh above the pot rim. Al

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 8:58AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Good Idea, Al.

I use old Fiberglas window screen or the plastic canvas used for needlepoint projects that you can find at hobby stores. Some use inexpensive Fiberglas drywall mesh available at home improvement stores & hardwares.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:52PM
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wndy_gardenweb(USDA z4b)

Love that there are two Als here, hehehe.

If you have any cheesecloth in your kitchen I think would work too? (I have some in mine, and I always forget that it's there)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 10:36PM
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Why do you need to cover the drain hole? Have you found an uncovered hole to be a problem?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 3:12PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I ended up using old landscape cloth, which seems to be working fine. But I'll be saving my mesh bags for future use.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 5:46PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

jonfrum, most containers will have drain holes up to an inch in size which will allow gritty mix to run right out. Al

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 9:28AM
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you can also used ladies stockings that have been cut up

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 2:14PM
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I used newspapers and paper towels once or twice before; I kept losing too much soil through the drainage hole. Unfortunately, they both held too much water in the pot for too long. So I tore up the sheets of paper, balled them up and threw them in the bottom of the pot. This gave the water some space to drain through while keeping the soil from escaping. It also helped fill up some space, made the pot less heavy and I used less soil. I liked it much better than using packing peanuts like so many magazines or garden websites suggest.

Now that I think about it, I bet non-glossy junk mail would be put to good use this way too!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 2:29PM
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home_grower(SoCal Z9 S18)

I have also reused the fiberglass screen from when I replaced the screen on my windows or doors. It drains well and holds in the soil. If the roots want to push thru it they can.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 3:15AM
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