Got a pot with no drainage hole? Drill it, plant it, enjoy!


Wrinkled skin and all, this green elephant pot caught my eye at Barton Springs Nursery a few weeks ago. As I looked it over, I noticed it lacked something important: a drainage hole in the bottom. A drainage hole is essential to a potted plant’s health, even its survival. Without a hole, a pot’s soil gets saturated when you water it, and the plant essentially drowns. Not good. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to drill a drainage hole, even in a ceramic pot like this one.


A masonry bit and an electric drill are all you need. Masonry bits, like all bits, come in different diameters. For drainage, a bigger hole is better, but it all depends on the size of your pot. I usually keep two sizes of masonry bits tucked in the package shown here, and the one I used is probably a 1/4-inch bit, not 1/8-inch. To ensure good drainage, I drilled three holes spaced an inch or so apart.


Turn your pot upside down to drill it. If the top is uneven, as with my elephant pot, have someone brace it for you so you can drill straight down (not sideways as shown in my quick-snap illustration). If your bit slips when you start drilling, stick a piece of masking tape on the bottom and drill through that. Don’t lean on the drill, lest you break the pot. Just apply regular pressure and let the bit slowly work its way through.

If you notice heat build-up during the drilling process, turn off the drill and occasionally wet the pot bottom to cool the ceramic, especially if the pot is thick and it takes a while to drill through. This wasn’t a problem with my thin-skinned elephant pot.


I decided on a ‘Dragon’s Blood’ sedum for the elephant because its rusty red and green coloring harmonized with the pot color. I put a couple of broken shards of terracotta in the bottom to keep soil from washing out of the new drainage holes. When I pulled the sedum out of its nursery pot, I found it was too big to fit in the little elephant pot, so I pulled off about a quarter of the soil on the bottom (taking off some roots in the process, but succulents are tough) and a little around the sides as well. I popped it in the pot and filled the gaps with a fast-draining cactus potting mix I bought at the nursery.

Finally, I topped the soil with a thin layer of pea gravel for a finished look and to keep soil from splashing out. For small pots like this, you can also use aquarium gravel or vase-filler pebbles found in the home-decor aisle of stores like Target.


Ta-da! You might think of it as a dragon riding an elephant.


Once you feel confident using your masonry bit, you’ll probably find all kinds of containers that can be turned into succulent planters. Years ago, I drilled this two-piece chip-and-dip set and planted it with a variety of succulents, accented with turquoise glass beads and chunks of blue slag glass.


It’s gone through various replantings over the years, but I still love it.


While rooting around in the garage for the masonry bit, I unearthed this old frog pitcher, and now I’m wondering if it would make a good planter. What do you think? Maybe string-of-pearls senecio dripping out of his mouth?

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

I’ll be speaking on April 30, noon-12:30 pm, in Cedar Park, Texas, at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery’s Lily Blossom Festival. My free talk is called “How to Garden Water-Wise, Not Water-Wasteful.” An old proverb reminds us that The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives. Don’t be a water-guzzling frog! I’ll be sharing my tips for making a garden that is water-wise, not water-wasteful. Stick around after my talk for a book signing, with autographed copies of Lawn Gone! and The Water-Saving Garden available for purchase.

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, time TBA. Learn more about water-saving gardening during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Come to my talk at Cedar Park nursery festival this Saturday


This fun flower, held aloft on a 6-foot stalk, is blooming right now in multiple spots in my garden: ‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda (Manfreda undulata ‘Chocolate Chips’), my absolute favorite manfreda, with ruffled, succulent leaves covered in chocolatey freckles. It’s a beautiful, dry-loving plant that’s perfect for a sunny container, especially when paired with Mexican feathergrass.

And that’s my segue into my upcoming speaking event about water-saving gardening, this coming Saturday…


I’ll be speaking at noon this Saturday, April 30, at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery’s Lily Blossom Festival in Cedar Park, just barely north of Austin. My free talk is called “How to Garden Water-Wise, Not Water-Wasteful.”


As an old proverb reminds us, “The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.” Don’t be a water-guzzling frog! I’ll be sharing my tips for making a garden that is water-wise, not water-wasteful. Stick around after my talk for a book signing, with autographed copies of Lawn Gone! and The Water-Saving Garden available for purchase ($20 each).


Before you ask what a water-garden nursery is doing, hosting a talk about water-saving gardening, especially during a waterlily festival, let me point out that HCWG carries a LOT of drought-tolerant native and adapted plants, and they have a particularly good succulent section. Also, as I point out in The Water-Saving Garden, a non-wasteful water feature — like a disappearing fountain; a reflective bowl; or a fish-friendly stock-tank pond — can be a powerful focal point and symbol of abundance in an otherwise water-thrifty garden. Moreover, a (non-spraying) water feature typically uses less water than a similar sized patch of lawn grass.

The festival includes a plant sale, free food (while it lasts), live music, and — best of all, right? — all-day garden talks. I hope you’ll join me at noon for my 30-minute talk, followed by a book signing. It should be lots of fun!

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, time TBA. Learn more about water-saving gardening during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

I’m interviewed in Boston Globe about Texas gardening and blogging


“When Spotlight won Best Picture,” I asked the Boston Globe reporter the day after the Oscars, “did you celebrate?” Heather Ciras was interviewing me for a non-investigative story (thank goodness) about gardening and blogging. The night before, I’d been happy to see my favorite movie of 2016 — a true story about the Globe‘s 2001 investigation of a cover-up in the Catholic Church, and an excellent film — get the top award.

“I worked the Oscars, manning our social media, so it was very cool when Spotlight won,” she replied, “especially since we didn’t think it would. There were some cheers, then we got right back to work because we were on deadline.” I admit it: I couldn’t help picturing actors Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams hard at work, following leads and sniffing out cover-ups.

With Spotlight fresh in my mind, I felt a bit awed to be contacted by a Globe reporter. She’d seen my blog in the Better Homes and Gardens Blogger Awards and wanted to interview me for her column in the weekend Address section about homes and real estate. Her column, she explained, usually covers home decorating and includes interviews with home bloggers, but for a change she wanted to talk with a garden blogger. Naturally, I was at her service!


We did the interview in late February, and I sent her a few pictures of my garden. I didn’t know if anything would come of it, but last week she emailed to tell me that the interview was online and would be in print on April 24! Yippee! Here are a couple of screenshots of the online version. I called all over town on Saturday to try to find a local bookstore that carries the Globe, so I could pick up a copy, but no dice. Happily, Heather has promised to mail me a copy.

If you’d like to know what a Boston reporter (still waiting for winter to end) asks an Austin gardener (hands grubby from manic spring gardening), click here to read the interview. Our conversation is condensed, so there are some abrupt segues, and I have no idea what the Texas-gopher reference in the title means. But I’m thrilled to be spotlighted, so to speak, in the Boston Globe!

Here’s how Heather summed up the interview: “Penick shared with us her thoughts on using less water, how interior design and gardening overlap, and why plantings are best enjoyed with a margarita.”

Exactly.

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

I’ll be speaking on April 30, noon-12:30 pm, in Cedar Park, Texas, at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery’s Lily Blossom Festival. My free talk is called “How to Garden Water-Wise, Not Water-Wasteful.” An old proverb reminds us that The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives. Don’t be a water-guzzling frog! I’ll be sharing my tips for making a garden that is water-wise, not water-wasteful. Stick around after my talk for a book signing, with autographed copies of Lawn Gone! and The Water-Saving Garden available for purchase.

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, time TBA. Learn more about water-saving gardening during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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