I have a houseplant in a pot with drainage that I put into another pot without drainage. I should have gotten a larger outside pot because the smaller plant pot ended up being too tight a fit at the top. A while after watering I realized that the water wasn't going to evaporate and would be stagnant. Can this water be dangerous (as in anaerobic stuff going on)? I don't want to leave this outside because an animal could drink it so I have been leaving it and put chopsticks between both pots to try get some air to it but it still didn't evaporate. Any ideas on disposing of this water safely? Thanks!

  • 1
    Just out of curiosity: If the two pots are so tight that water won't evaporate, how would an animal drink it? Welcome to the site!
    – Stephie
    Jun 1, 2015 at 20:44
  • Thank you Stephie! That would be if I took the smaller pot out of the larger pot so that it could evaporate but I don't want it to spill it either. I've stopped watering the plant.
    – Padma
    Jun 1, 2015 at 21:06
  • You can drill holes in the bottom of clay or ceramic pots with masonry bits. For plastic pots, a regular old drill bit will work. I don't know what the people who make these drainless pots are thinking. They're a great way to kill plants! Jun 2, 2015 at 12:20

2 Answers 2


Remove smaller pot from larger pot.

Dump water on the ground (or if citified, into a storm drain if you prefer.)


Follow the advice given in the other answer (separate the pots, empty out the water) maybe taking it outside first and wearing rubber gloves if you don't want physical contact with the dirty water. Find another tray or outer pot to stand the plant in, and after you've watered, always empty the outer tray or pot after 30 minutes.

When you ask whether the standing water can be dangerous, its not clear whether you mean to life in general or your plant in particular - certainly, it is not healthy for your plant to be standing in contact with that all the time, and yes, anaerobic activity will be going on and the balance in the potting medium will change and become 'sour' and may eventually kill the plant. Whether its dangerous for human beings is another matter - I suppose mosquito larvae might breed in it if it could get in there, and it will not contribute a pleasant fragrance to the air, it will become very unpleasant to smell because the of the type of bacteria it will encourage. I certainly don't think you should wait for it to 'evaporate', specially not indoors, it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible, particularly if its a warm or tropical climate where you are.

  • I was wondering about the slight possibility of botulism? If so I'm scared of it spilling. I guess pouring it carefully into the garden should be okay with gloves? It doesn't smell. It's just about 3/4" of water way at the bottom of the pot not touching the plant. Thanks!
    – user11486
    Jun 9, 2015 at 18:49
  • 1
    @padma: Botulism? Not from dirty standing water, no risk of that unless you're gonna drink it - there's more risk of Legionnaires or being bitten by a malaria carrying mosquito that's hatched out from that water if you're somewhere they live than there is from botulism. Just put on a mask and gloves and empty it outdoors - or don't breathe while you tip it out. And do it asap - it's not going to get healthier or less dangerous as time goes by.
    – Bamboo
    Jun 9, 2015 at 21:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.