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Pot - Inadequate Drainage


If allowed to do so, African Violets will almost always absorb only the amount of water they need. However, if the pot provides inadequate drainage, a Violet can literally drown in water. Inadequate drainage also leaves Violets susceptible to other dangerous conditions, such as Crown Rot and Root Rot. Inadequate drainage may be the result of a number of causes. It may be that your pot has no drainage holes at all, or maybe they are simply too small. Alternatively, there may be something obstructing the holes so that water cannot get out. If left uncorrected, a pot with inadequate drainage will almost certainly be fatal to your African Violet. (Also see Water - Too Much.)

Distinguishing Symptoms

Make sure the pot you are using is not too large and that your potting is not too heavy. If neither is the case, then the excess water in the soil probably indicates that your pot is not draining properly.

Also see:

Pot Size - Too Large
Potting Soil - Too Heavy
Water - Too Much

Other Symptoms


Check for drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. If there are none, you will need to make some. If they are not large enough to allow adequate drainage, you will need to make them larger. Holes can easily be added to plastic pots by using a soldering iron or by simply heating up a screwdriver and pushing it through the bottom. If you are using a terra cotta pot which has no holes, you can add holes with a drill. For 4-inch pots, use a 1/4-inch bit and drill from the bottom. Do not press too hard. Go slowly and let the drill do the work. Make four holes. On 1-inch pots, make one hole about 1/8 inch in diameter. On 2-inch pots, make two holes about 1/8 inch in diameter.

If you find that your pot already has adequate drainage holes, you will need to check for an obstruction. A rock, a leaf or a piece of plastic may be to blame. Or perhaps, it is the pot itself. Even with adequate drainage holes, your pot may rest so snugly against the surface of your plant stand that it seals in the water. Such a cause is rare with plastic and unglazed, terra cotta pots. However, if you find this to be the problem, try propping the pot up or allowing your Violet to drain in the sink.


Only use pots which allow adequate drainage. Check the soil frequently. Your potting soil should be moist, but never soggy.

For more about selecting the correct pot for African Violets, see "Caring for African Violets."

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