How to Drill Drainage Holes in Ceramic Flowerpots and Planters

How to Drill Drainage Holes in Ceramic Flowerpots and Planters

I have come across many clay flowerpots and planters I absolutely adore only to pick them and find out they do not have any drainage holes. It’s a big disappointment, considering pretty much all plants need adequate drainage to survive – however, it’s not that difficult to drill drainage holes yourself with just a few simple supplies.

how to make drainage holes in planters
I have used this method on several different ceramic containers over the years to create some pretty unique planters – even though they were not originally intended for plants.

carbide tip masonry drill bit
The key to properly drill drainage holes is using the correct drill bit. Many of the ceramic containers intended for plants are made from soft terracotta clay. These containers can be found either glazed or left in their natural state. Both can be drilled – though pottery in it natural state is by far the easiest.

For unglazed terra cotta pottery & ceramics – Masonry Drill Bits are used.
For harder, glazed surfaces – Glass and Tile Drill Bits are used.

Carbide Tip Masonry Drill Bit
Masonry drill bits, like the one shown above, come in various diameters. The tip is slightly larger than the actual drill bit itself. These can be found right at your local hardware store
– here is a online link if needed for reference.

Glass and Tile bits can also be found at your local hardware store and are shaped with a spear point head as shown here.

Both of these drill bits are not design to be used on other materials such as wood or metal – so be sure to use them for their intended purposes only.

drilling flowerpot drainage holes
A piece of masking tape or painter’s tape placed on the bottom of the container will help keep the drill bit from slipping.
It’s not necessary especially on soft surfaces – but does help steady the bit as you begin drilling.

drill drainage holes
Drilling at a slow steady pace is best, as you do not want to crack the container. Apply very little pressure and most importantly let the drill do the work.

How to drill flowerpot drainage holes
The ease of drilling is of course going to vary depending upon the material of the container – however, do not be intimidated as terracotta containers are very easy to drill.

drilling drainage holes
I have only ever lost one pot – and that was one of the first pots I ever drilled – I pressed way to hard and the drill was spinning full blast.

making flowerpot drainage holes
Slow, steady and just a little bit of patience.

drilling planter drainage holes…and a bunch of happy plants!


  1. Excellent info ~ thanks for sharing!
    ‘hugs from afar’

  2. How strange you posted this today. I have been grumbling about this exact dilemma for the past week or so. Guess I can set my sights wherever I want w this newest bit of info!! Yay!! Thanks so much. Now I can wah about all the beautiful (perfect) hole-less pots I’ve passed up!! Darn.

  3. I like this idea! I usually put a smaller plant in a pot with drainage into the decorative pot without the hole. The plant drains just fine, but there is water left standing in the other pot–not good! I love plants, too, so I’m going to have to give this a try–I like power tools.

  4. Stephanie C :

    Thanks for the great tip. I use to work in a glass shop so I’d bring in all my pots without drainage holes for 1 of the guys to drill for me. The glass shop is now gone, my favorite worker passed away & I never thought to ask what type of drill bit he used. From now on I can do it by myself.

  5. Thanks for the info. Sometimes I make a pot and after firing it, and no one loves it enough to buy it, I think – gee, this would be a good planter pot! And now I can do that.

  6. Love this! I need this for a few pots I have sitting around. Perfect. I featured this idea in my 10 Fabulous Summer DIYs list today on my blog! You can come check it out and grab a button if you want!

  7. Stephanie, I just bought pots to make a fountain out of and needed to drill a hole in one. You must have been reading my mind. Thanks!

  8. Perfect timing! I have a pot with no drainage holes that was given to me. I figured I’d just put a plant inside that was already potted. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  9. Stephanie ! ! Thank you so much for the info on drilling drainage hole in glazed pots..My wife is on her way to try the info..

  10. Thank you so much for these valuable tips. Now I can put those planters I love to good use

  11. With no experience in drilling into ceramics, my first thought was “masonry bit and a piece of tape.”

    I think I’m turning into one of those “handy” types.

    Thanks for the write-up!

  12. Thanks for the above advice. Simply and clearly explained!

  13. Hi Stephanie Lynn,

    It’s excellent idea, Thanks to you!!
    I was try to this myself with my wife. It’s hugely to my home gardening of Pots. we was drilling drainage hole in glazed about 60 on 20 pcs pots. It’s done successfully. But i was broken some pots first time. then that well enough.




  1. […] Even though they’re not always the cutest, pots with drainage holes are excellent for preventing your plants from receiving too much water. The drainage holes do exactly as their name suggests: they drain excess water from the pot so that the soil doesn’t retain it. Just because not all of the most aesthetic pots have drainage holes doesn’t mean you can’t use them! Here are some great articles that teach you how to drill holes in plastic, clay, and ceramic pots: How to Punch Drainage Holes in Plastic Flower Pots and How to Drill Drainage Holes in Ceramic Flower Pots and Planters. […]

  2. […] drainage hole with whatever container you choose. If your container does not have a drainage hole, drill it […]

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