Container drainage

What do you use to ensure good drainage in window boxes and containers? I've seen lots of recommendations for using packing nuts or broken pots but unfortunately I have access to neither. I read last night that aluminium cans can be used... I have a constant supply of those little metal cases that tea light candles are in... Can I scrunch those a bit and use as a bottom layer? Don't want so poison my plants!!! Also, should I mix some grit with the compost for all containers or just those housing plants that need good drainage? Thanks!
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Posts

  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,569

    Hi Logan, i have looked at how aluminium effects plants,i think u need to look yourself as the info says it can effect root growth,however the amounts needed seem to be obscure,i went to (effects of aluminium on plants) to me it looks a no,no,however we know its used on acid soils as a colouration for some plants, id use polystyrene myself broken into bits ,it works perfectly in pots or troughs and is used in packaging everywhere, hope this helps, image

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,616

    I've used polystyrene packaging broken into chunks - it works and doesn't weigh the container down too much. image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • Jim MacdJim Macd Posts: 751

    Yeah, I'd use polystyrene too in window boxes especially, it's pretty inert. I'm sure you'll find some somewhere. I don't use it anymore because I like to put my used compost on the garden and polystyrene would drive me nuts, so I use only rubble and gravel.

    Incidentally, when people talking it aiding drainage, it really only bulks up the soil and takes up space that water but otherwise occupy. Few things actively encourage the water to drain away, for that you'd need pure gravel. You need air pockets large enough to stop capillary action. And drainage holes are sooo easily blocked by the slightest little thing. I had two big pots with just three hose size holes in the bottom filled with 50:50 gravel and compost, it still turned into a bog. They're now filled mainly with gravel with pockets of soil for alpine type plants, and they're raised off the ground more. 

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,620

    I save wine corks for using in pots that need good drainage.   They are natural and  lightweight and they also absorb excess mositure which then makes a reserve supply if the compost dries out  too much.   They can be recycled quite a few times too and don't harm the compost heap if they end up in there - unlike polystyrrene chips and so on.

    The Vendée, France
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,616

    Wine corks?!  How many??!!  

    I was referring to my big terracotta pot with the fig tree in ............ that'd take a lot of corks - and a lot of wine - Obelixx,  I'm seriously impressed!!!!!!!!

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,717

    I use polystyrene chunks too but I know what you mean about picking the lumps out when you empty the old compost out Jim image

    I've also used small broken plastic pots in the base of big pots to save using loads of compost, but I add some gravel or larger stones to fill the space round them which seems to work quite well. If you cover that with a bit of weed suppressing fabric it stops compost being washed down to block the drainage holes.  

  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,569

    There u go Dove i knew that Obilexx was on the hooch, buys it by the truck load ill bet image

  • Jim MacdJim Macd Posts: 751

    Yeah, I've used cracked up turned plastic pots before just to bulk it out. Sometimes you really don't need all that compost. I've just planted to clematis today, I'd had them in front of my old shed. Because they're clematis I just put some broken terracotta pots to stop the drain holes blocking up and filled with a bag of compost each. I had a good chunk of soil around the base of them though. Don't ask me what varieties they are I lost the labels and didn't make notes. 

  • 4thPanda4thPanda Posts: 4,145

    I keep the polystyrene trays that plants come in and break them up and use them. When I have run out of these I use bits of hardcore that I have dug out of my garden image 

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