A super easy way to improve the health of your bonsai…

…and sometimes it’s buried. In the pot. And it’s not a magic particle. Or fertilizer. It’s all about gas exchange.

When we recognize that roots respire, we know that they need oxygen. And if they need oxygen, then a solid pot wall is one impediment to that, and a clogged drain hole is really shutting the door. Add more drain holes and oxygen will have an uptick, the result being stronger trees.

Buy a hole saw and drill a few more holes in your pot. Many pots have multiple holes, but maybe not in the lowest place in your pot: A sure way to have a root problem later on. Making more water exits solves this problem quite handily.


Andrew, my apprentice, making three new holes in what was previously a one hole pot. It had a clogged drain hole (a lot of mycorrhizae) and nowhere for water to drain out. Now we’ve multiplied water drainage, and concurrently, oxygen presence in the rootball.

Notes: A hole saw often has diamond dust on it, so it can cut through ceramic. Do go slowly, don’t have a high RPM, and make sure there’s always a puddle of water present. Andrew has tipped his pot so that a puddle stays where he’s drilling.



  1. Peter Sobel says:

    So true and a great way to add anchor points. If I could add one thing support the pot. If your pushing down you don’t want the pot to crack. I drill pots the other way (from inside out and support the base on a bed of mulch. One last thing as you get towards the end or breaking through to the other side don’t push to hard so you avoid “chipping/cracking” the other side.

    Michael as always such great advice!

  2. 4griffs4@comcast.net says:

    Good morning Michael, and Happy Valentines Day,   This is great advise and Terry said he would help me add more hole to some of my pots. Annette

  3. paul3636 says:

    What size diamond hole drill do you use. I bought an 1.25″ on eBay from Hong Kong for about $8.00 delivered about 5 years ago and have used it since. Great Buy.

    • crataegus says:

      It’s best to have several different sizes, according to need. 1/2″ holes are fine for the little spots in the pot that don’t drain well, larger ones for the interior.

  4. light oil is also good for the cutting as opposed to water… and it doesnt hurt to masking tape the drill area to help reduce chipping, along with a firm surface under, and in contact with, the drill area…

    • endsurg says:

      Does the oil have to be continually dripped?

    • Marty Weiser says:

      Water is actually a bit better for most ceramics since it is slightly corrosive to the glassy phase that bonds the particles together and is lower viscosity than than most oils I am familiar with so it removes the debris faster. Cutting oils are far better with most metal cutting since we are looking to reduce friction as the tool cuts the metal. In ceramics it is more of a grinding action so lubrication is less of an issue, flushing the debris and cooling of the cutting are critical.

  5. Joyce Tsuji says:

    Holy Pot Batman! Thank you for making my pot more holy at our last study group, Michael. Andrew should be wearing safety glasses. Best wishes, Joyce

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