Sand Tunnel – Adding drainage to water clogged pots

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Tommy Tips 

Adding drainage to water clogged pots

Have you a potted plant that’s rooted in too much rich, water retaining, soil? All too often, we unthinkingly place our plants in such an inappropriate mixture. Just like us, it is important to our plant families where they live! Hence the fact that I endeavor to create a correct mix for each plant from my large barrels of tierra negra (rich compost), estiércol de vaca (dried cow manure) arena del río (river sand) and coconut coir (finely shredded coconut husks).

It’s important for us to recognize that most plants don’t like to have their “feet” left standing in water. But what can one do if our green and growing subject is too large to dislodge from the pot? I had this problem some time back and here is the solution that I – well, I guess – “invented”!

Find a straight piece of re-bar – the metal rods used to strengthen and stabilize concrete when being poured. Get a piece long enough to reach approximately 80% down into your pot. With a hammer, gently tap it downward. If you encounter hard resistance you’ve come upon a root – stop immediately – re-insert elsewhere. But, in those locations – perhaps 8 -10 – where you can penetrate to where the small river rock should be at the bottom so as to allow good drainage, do so.

Then, gently rock/rotate the re-bar so as to slightly increase the size of the hole, tighten the dirt outward around the rod and to facilitate ease in its removal.  Next, pour slightly granular – not ultra-fine – sand into these hole “tubes”.


IMPORTANT: This must be clean river sand and not that from the beach which would be high in salinity content and would be bad for your plant as most of them are on salt free diets! Using the re-bar, gently tamp the sand into the holes.

Then, voila, you now have a drain mechanism for water that will allow the roots to “drink” while alleviating sustained moisture which was previously clinging to them!