House plant excess water drainage

henrikn(z4a-4b)August 14, 2012


I am interested in setting up an automatic watering system (pump, hoses, emitters, reservoir) for periods when I am away from home longer than a couple days. Since I am using a very well draining gritty mix, it's essential for the excess water to be collected into some kind of reservoir.

Does anybody know of any pot trays which allow a hose to be connected for leading away water? I'm looking for something that could be used in-place with regular indoor pots of various sizes. A reasonable solution would be whole pots with drainage pipes, although that would require repotting.

Below is an image from a patent, which illustrates what I'm looking for:

I'm thinking that I might be using the wrong search terms while looking around for a product like this, since English is not my first language.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

How about setting all of your pots on top of some type of blocking within the confines of a child's wading pool or other large container, the blocking serving to raise them above the effluent that will collect in the pool/container as/when you water?


    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 7:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That would work, but my idea is to keep the setup in place even while I am home. For that reason I would like the setup to be rather inconspicuous.

My plants are all sitting on the windowsills to get as much light as possible (I live in an apartment and have no yard), I'm thinking to pass the drainage hoses behind the pots and down behind a radiator to keep them mostly hidden.

Currently the pots are sitting on saucers (that seems to be the word, time for more googling) which collect the excess, but they have to be manually emptied after each watering.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 3:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I put small pebbles (pea gravel or any ornamental pebbles) in saucers & the pots are sitting on top. That way they never sit in water should any collect in the saucer.

Maybe a longer & narrower tray accomodating few pots with pebbles would work on the windowsill? ...just an idea...
Any water should evaporate, which would add little humidity to your room & plants.

Are you planning on recirculating the water back on plants?Rina

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 8:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Recirculating the water is probably not a good idea - just in case that's a consideration. The volume of water that evaporates + the accumulating salts flushed from the soil soon skews the ratio of nutrients in the effluent and increases the concentration of dissolved solids.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 8:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Al, that's what I thought (about re-using the water) - glad you mentioned it.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 9:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dellis326 (Danny)

You could probably find all that you'd need from an industrial plastic supplier like US Plastics ( you would need to do some modification and fabricating to do what you want.

With gritty mix you could create a flood and drain type or drip type of hydroponic system with a pump on a timer that you could run all the time whether you're home or not but following what Al has said you would need to watch out for the increase of the dissolved solids in your reservoir which would really amount to just changing the water very 4 to 6 weeks and topping off the supply in between changes.

In simple terms, your pump clicks on and water cycles to the pots for a predetermined period of time, it drains through and out of the bottom and back through the drainage system to the reservoir. The pump clicks off after a few minutes and the water stops flowing and drains out of the pots as usual.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 9:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I did not consider recirculating the water for the reasons mentioned above, but the excess still needs to be led away. Such a feature would be desirable even without an automatic system to reduce the work needed to water the plants. Right now I have to lift each pot to the sink to pour out the water accumulated in the saucers.

Rina, I don't think the evaporation is quick enough to remove the amount of water that might flow through the pots. Of course I can regulate the flow, but I also want to flush the soil somewhat to prevent gradual buildup of salts.

That's why I'd like some kind of saucer which I can attach tubing to.

It seems like I might have to modify an existing plastic saucer as mentioned by dellis326, but I'm not sure how to best do that. If I cut out a hole I would need to make a water tight seal somehow.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 12:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dellis326 (Danny)

There are a number of ways you could connect the tubing to your drainage saucers. One way is to use hose connecter fittings in which you need to drill a hole and screw the fitting on. Can cost a lot if you plan on doing this to a lot of plants.

Another way is to drill the hole slightly smaller the the plastic tubing, lets say a 7/16" hole for a 1/2" tube, or if you're in a part of the world with a more sensible measuring system 12mm tubing with an 11mm hole, then take silicone aquarium cement and lubricate the end of the tube and squeeze it through the hole. Let it set up for a day or two and your ready to go.

Just make sure the size tubing you use will drain the water out fast enough so it doesn't overflow.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 9:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It seems like I might need what's called a "bulkhead fitting" or "bulkhead connector" to go through the saucer. I just need to find some with suitable dimensions.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 9:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dellis326 (Danny)

A bulkhead fitting/union/connector will work. You will need to have hose barbs to transition from the threaded outlet of the bulkhead fitting to the hose. Another way to go would to just use hose barb X Male pipe thread adapters and find some pipe locknuts and use two for each adapter and skip the bulkhead altogether.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 11:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the help dellis326,

I have very little experience with all these piping/tubing terms.

It seems difficult to find many of the items in smaller dimensions so as to fit the smaller sized saucers. Also, at those smaller dimensions the draining capacity will be severely reduced, as well as the buffering volume of the saucer (requiring more controlled release of the water, in order to avoid overflow).

I'm thinking to perhaps connect the drainage directly to the pots instead, and seal the drainage holes. The pot will then serve as a bigger buffer, and also allows for larger fittings to be used (since the saucers have a limited height).

The issue then becomes to seal the drainage holes well (which should be fairly simple), and to find some kind of filter to attach to the bulkhead fitting (so that no soil particles run down the drain).

Well, and the repotting necessary to install everything...

Seems like there is no easy way out :)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 3:01PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Dracaenas Identify & Care
Here are two plants that I know are Dracaenas but I...
Pruning Ficus Lyrata (fiddle leaf fig)
Hi everyone! I have a 5 foot tall healthy, indoor ficus...
Spot for Calathea ornata and Ctenanthe oppenheimiana tricolor
Will they like the same spot as my Marantha leuconeura? Beside...
MsGreenFinger GW
Good Growing Practices - An Overview
I am reposting this thread because the transition from...
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)
Fiddle Leaf Fig Trunk Help
Hi, I recently purchased a Fiddle Leaf Fig and it’s...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™