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Water not draining in pots - help

Hi guys 

I have a very large pot that I’ve planted a climbing rose in back in summer last year. It was doing perfectly fine until this winter where I noticed that the pot is often flooded with water from the rain. None of my other pots have this issue. The pitting mix I used to fill it is a mixture of John innes no3 and rose compost. There is a hole at the bottom of the pot around 1 inch in diameter. I’m perplexed as to why this particular pot has this issue of poor drainage when I have similar pots all done up the same way. Clearly I can’t this go on any longer and I think I have to repot the rose, dig up the potting mix and mix in some sand/grit and maybe throw some stones into the bottom of the pot. It’s a bit of a hassle so I wonder if there’s an easier to get around this? I’m also getting quite concerned that this rose has been sitting in pools of cold water on and off over the whole winter and it may get root rot.. but then the continuous stormy weather lately isn’t exactly conducive for reporting my plant- I don’t have a green house or potting shed.. 

Any help is appreciated. 



  • Hi Adrian. my large rose pot - I used broken pot to cover the holes (stop them getting blocked up with compost) then a layer of pea gravel and then the potting mix. Seems to drain fine - mine has multiple holes (plastic pot)

    I did add additional grit/sharp sand to the soil/compost.

    Is it possible that it’s not draining because of the surface it’s on? I know you can get pot feet to raise the pot up off the ground to aid draining. It’s either that or the hole is blocked with a compost plug or your potting medium isn’t right.

    Although John Innes does have sand added to it so should be free draining out of the bag!

    Did you use anything to cover the hole?
  • @Mr. Vine Eye No I just added the mixture of John innes and compost directly into the pot without covering the drainage hole first with gravel. Assuming the drainage hole is blocked with ‘compost plug’ - would it make any difference if I try to loosen it from underneath it? That would save me the big job of repotting it.. I’ve used pretty much the same recipe of potting medium for all my roses (I have 12 of them) - although of slightly different ratios I guess since I never measure accurately but rather just ‘eye balling’ it - all but one has this issue. I did notice that John innes 3 feels a lot more compact than no2/1 - perhaps I didn’t add enough compost to loosen it up in this pot..? 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,960
    Yes - you need a bit of cover over the hole, especially these glazed or terracotta pots which  only have a single hole.
    I use broken pieces of pot or similar, as @Mr. Vine Eye does, to create a space above the hole, but I then cover that with some landscape fabric or even washed out wipes [if you use those at all?] before adding the soil mix. That prevents it all being washed through.
    JI3 is purely a mix, rather than a specific type of compost, so it has better holding qualities for long term planting. You can aid the drainage by mixing some grit with that. I find that better than the layer of gravel method, which can act as a sump, especially if the pot isn't raised off the ground.
    Do you have it up on pot feet of some kind? 

    I think you may find it difficult to get at it from below, but if you're careful, you could possibly push the soil back, and insert something like a little wedge of chicken wire, but that could allow soil through too easily. Perhaps a little ball of landscape fabric or similar?
    If it was mine, I'd empty it though, and get the hole covered  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • @Fairygirl I don’t have them on pot feet but since the flooding started I’ve kept it tilted on a stone to see if it would aid drainage, but it hasn’t. I think I’ll have to repot it. It has a climbing rose in it and it would be impossible to repot once they grow even more this coming season.. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,960
    I think that's the smart solution.
    Pots need to be kept off the ground though. You don't need anything special either - bricks, offcuts of wood etc.
    I use little bits of roofing batten left over from other projects.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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