Ask a Question forum: Water isn't draining from the pot hole

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Gouravpatri
Dec 30, 2016 9:06 AM CST
Here it's winter and I have planted seasonal flowering plants in earth pots with single holes I have covered the holes with coconut fiber .the problem is when I water my plants the water stands above and even if it soaks it doesn't drain from the hole I have added much of sand and burned ash into the soil but water isn't draining should I change the soil completely from my pot it is very dark in colour nutritious but incorrect drainage -please advice Gourav ;india
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Dec 30, 2016 11:23 AM CST
Welcome!

Before you re-pot, try sticking a stick or screw driver up through the hole in the bottom and wiggling it around. It could be that the soil just got too packed by the drainage hole.
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Name: woofie
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woofie
Dec 30, 2016 12:04 PM CST
What kind of sand did you use? Using too fine a sand will cause problems. If adding sand, it should be a coarse sand.
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Dec 30, 2016 2:14 PM CST
Welcome!

I would agree with both comments.

Coconut fiber can turn into a rock when it dries out (especially if it's ground up for plant use and then compacted). I like to use cocofiber but always cut it with an equal amount of gravel (in my case pumice but you can use whatever fine gravel you have locally), to break up the brick, so to speak. That might improve your situation.

I like to put little pieces of cut up window screen at the bottom of my pots (long life and very cheap) to keep the soil from coming out the holes. Other similar kinds of things should work fine for that purpose.

Coarse sand or fine gravel (not beach sand or construction gravel) is going to help the most to improve drainage. Ash is alkaline and it's probably not a good idea to put very much into soil for pots. What it tends to do (in excess) is interfere with the ability of the roots to efficiently absorb nutrients from whatever compost or fertilizer you might use. Charcoal, on the other hand, can be an excellent soil additive, in the right size range.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Dec 30, 2016 2:34 PM (+)]
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Gouravpatri
Dec 30, 2016 2:36 PM CST
well is dried cow dung manure in powdered form good for improving soil quality of clay soil ,should cow dung be applied fresh or dried i am asking because it is plentily availaible here in india and how to use tea leaves should i immedeately add it after its brewed or it should dry for some days then added into rose plants?and thanks for your advice next time i will add gravel for sure which i missed do as i thought coconut fibre will do the drainage part but i think the problem lies with the soil quality which is very clayey .
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Dec 30, 2016 7:11 PM CST
You'll need to be very careful using any kind of manure in pots. Although it is high in organic fibers, which are what you need the most to help break up clay soil, it is also very high in nitrogen which is a major plant nutrient. So manure can potentially burn the leaves of plants, especially in pots where the plant roots are enclosed within the confines of the small space.

Did you just use regular garden soil with added coconut fiber in your pots? If so, it's quite likely your soil has compacted too much and this is very likely causing your drainage problem.
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Dec 30, 2016 7:59 PM CST
Ideally you want to use the manure in its aged, composted form. And/or any kind of broken down plant matter (called compost in the US). Mix whatever you use really well. Fresh manure is probably a bad idea. If you're going to be doing this for a while, you might want to start a compost pile where you can toss your plant waste, and work some manure into it to get the consistency you need once it ages.

Everybody has their own recipe, but I do not use the soil we have in the ground for plants in pots. It's nutrient poor and can pack really tight. Clay soil from out of the ground is probably not going to be useful for container plants, except as a minor portion (maybe a quarter?) of the final product. You can in theory make almost anything work, but it'll be easier up front if you try to mix in both organic matter (compost, cocofiber, etc.) and fine gravel/coarse sand for optimal drainage.

The thing that ends up determining a lot of the behavior of soil in pots (esp. with regards to water absorption and drainage) is the size of the particles in the mix. Clay soil has very fine particles which pack together very tightly over time. Larger sized, irregular particles (like in fine gravel) will tend to break up these units, and in fact you're better off if you can start with a gritty mix overall (a particle size roughly larger than the holes in a window screen, for both organic and inorganic components) because then it basically cannot pack together in the same dense, problematic way.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Dec 30, 2016 8:06 PM (+)]
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