Putting houseplants in a catchment and drainage pot allows for quick drainage and easy watering of indoor plants. Which is a pretty darn good start for houseplant care. Better yet, knowing how to choose a catchment of the right size is essential for getting the water and soil moisture levels right for different types of houseplants.
Simply having a catchment for overflow water is not a cure-all for overwatering and underwatering. In fact, in some cases, it can lead to bad houseplant watering habits. You may think that the excess water in a catchment means you can drown houseplants and then ignore them for long periods of time. This can lead to undetected root rot from standing water, or it can lead to parched plants if the temperature and home humidity levels causes the water to evaporate and the soil to dry out. For these reasons, it definitely matters how big your catchment is for drainage pots.
Deep Catchment and Drainage Pots
Especially if you want to use a water catchment with a succulent or low-water houseplant, it’s important that the water still drains quickly and completely from the soil. You need a generous amount of space to make sure water and high moisture levels do not reach the potting soil. Another side effect is that these tall catchment pots had height, turning a small- or medium-sized houseplant into a large one.
These types of deep catchments are usually designed for specific drainage pots. That’s because you need something to support and hold the primary pot at the top of the catchment. Certainly, some people build their own deep catchment and pot support. But while the perfect deep drainage catchment may not be easy to find, it’s usually better to stay patient and keep looking rather than take the DIY approach.
Small Drainage Plates and Saucers
These are probably the most common types of catchments for houseplants. Ceramic pots may have their own. Ceramic and other molded pots may have their own saucers as part of their drainage system. Drainage saucers and pots may be sold together as two-piece potting sets. It’s also easy enough to find saucers for teacups that can be added to simple drainage pots.
This is great for medium-water houseplants that don’t mind having the bottom layers of potting soil stay wet for a few hours after watering. They may still be vulnerable to root rot with consistent overwatering. Ideally, you’ll still have access to all sides of the pot. That way you can saturate the potting soil before too much water drains and overwhelms the plate or saucer and runs all over.
Wide and Tight Water Catchments
In many ways, this is the opposite of deep catchments and the types of houseplants that are likely to thrive in these pots. If you have a hygrophyte houseplant that loves lots of water and moist soil, then this type of system may work well. If you have a group of houseplants like this, you can also find or create a catchment tray that will hold the runoff water and help create consistently moist potting soil.
If you happen to like the look of a big, wide water catchment for home decorating, you can still use this setup with medium-water and low-water houseplants. You simply need to be mindful of how much water you give the plant and be prepared to empty the catchment if needed.
Choosing and Using Water Catchment Pots
So, yes. The size and shape of the catchment matters to your houseplant care and best watering practices. Like most things, it’s important to strike a balance to avoid under- or overwatering. But you must also know your houseplants and which ones like higher or lower moisture levels in their potting soil. Let the type of catchment you choose help remind you how to water your different houseplants. You can also make additional notes in a houseplant journal.