Drill a Drainage Hole

Ceramic Pots

Q: I understand the importance of planting in pots with adequate drainage, but many of my pots don’t have holes. Every time I try to drill into the bottom of the pot, it cracks. How do I drill a drainage hole into a ceramic plant pot without cracking it?

A: The following process can be successful, but it is not guaranteed, and it is intended for adults with cordless drill competence.

Materials/Tools:

Ceramic plant pot
Diamond-coated hole saw drill bit for ceramics (15mm)
Cordless/battery-powered drill
Safety goggles, dust mask, gloves, towel, clean water

  1. Wear safety goggles, dust mask, and gloves, and follow the drill bit manufacturer’s package directions.
  2. Turn the pot upside down outside or in a utility sink with a towel underneath to prevent chipping the container.
  3. Mark the hole location(s) on the bottom of the pot.
  4. Use clean water to make a small puddle at the hole location to help keep the drill bit cool. You may want to trickle water as you drill, or create a water dam with putty.
  5. Tilt the drill bit at a 45-degree angle and cut a shallow c- shape into the pot to use a guide for the drill.
  6. Raise the drill bit to the vertical position and gently and slowly drill into the pot to create a hole. Be patient and pause to let the drill bit cool if needed. Don’t push hard. Let the drill do the work.

Please contact Plant Information Service at (847) 835-0972 or plantinfo@chicagobotanic.org for additional information.