The Q&A Archives: Packing peanuts for drainage?

Question: I recently read a suggestion to use strofoam packing peanuts for drainage in potted plants instead of stones, because it has the same effect without the added weight to the pot. Will the packing peanuts work for this purpose, or is that bad advice? Thanks.

Answer: It's true - the packing peanuts will serve the same purpose as stones and they will be lighter in weight. With that said, there are some cautions as to their use. First, always choose containers with adequate drainage holes in the bottom. If there are no drainage holes, water will collect at the bottom (regardless of whether you use stones or packing peanuts to raise up the soil level). The stale water will eventually develop an odor and, if roots grow into the putrid water, plant health can be affected. If you have a decorative pot without drainage holes, keep your plants in their nursery containers and set them inside the decorative pot, taking them out when it's time to water. In this case, styrofoam peanuts can be used in the bottom of the decorative pot as a base for your potted plants. Hope this clarifies things for you!

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