I read this page, Mason Jar Wall Planter, and many people complained about the bottles not having drain holes, but many others said that simply adding some rocks at the bottom will fix it.

What do you think? Is it possible to grow herbs in this kind of bottle without drain holes?

  • It's clearly possible, as some people have done it. What more were you hoping for from an answer?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 22:19
  • 2
    A drill bit that can drill through a mason jar costs 2-5 dollars.. It will add 5 min per jar to the project, but will simply maintenance a great deal Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 4:16
  • I added a few links to excellent information as to WHY putting rocks or gravel will only exacerbate drainage even when there is NO drainage. Drilling holes IS THE ONLY way to make use of jars as pots. Using rocks and gravel is NEVER an option even with holes! Bagged potting soil already mixed for you and sterilized is the only soil to use in pots. Anything else (I love this one) we try to add is ONLY BECAUSE IT MAKES US FEEL BETTER!! Grins.
    – stormy
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 21:41

3 Answers 3


This is essentially a pot without drainage. Most herbs do not like to sit in wet soil so you need to have a drainage layer and a soil separator topped with a soil or soil less mix. Here are the things I have used for a drainage layer:

  • peastone gravel - attractive but heavy
  • styrofoam peanuts - light, colorful but maybe not what you want near something you will eat
  • marbles, ping pong balls, glass rounds are other options

A soil separator keeps the soil out of the drainage layer when you water. I have used:

  • landscape fabric
  • pantyhose

Watering a container without a drain is a challenge. If you let the soil really dry out it contracts and water runs down the side and sits in the bottom. If you water too much you will get root rot.

Try and supply as much light as possible and try with chives or parsley which are fairly easy to grow. Good luck!

  • I have to disagree with you @kevinsky. This will help add air to the soil IF it is never watered too heavily. Thus, this thin soil layer over rocks works with shallow shallow rooted cactus plants. Do you not understand the perched water table thing I keep talking about Kevin? We could discuss this in chat sometime? Maybe you've got something that I could see where I might be wrong?
    – stormy
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 20:56
  • 1
    This is an article talking about perched water tables WITHOUT adding any rock or gravel oregonstate.edu/dept/nursery-weeds/feature_articles/…
    – stormy
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 21:19

Well it's hard to say if it's ok or not. It all depends on the herb and how much you water the plant, each plant varies. For instance, rosemary only needs to be watered when it dries out, while mint plants love to have lots of water. I would try it out and see how it goes.


What a fun question. I have a simple answer...NO. Gees louise. For drainage that ALL plants need (except for aquatics) you HAVE TO HAVE A DRAINAGE HOLE. Terrariums work only if there are enough roots to suck up water, water is rarely added and very sparingly. The terrarium is covered to inhibit evaporation and increase humidity. The plants that survive a terrarium are either transitional aquatics or cactus.

Plants (except for the specialized aquatics) need air in the soil. The water displaces the air. If there are enough roots the plants can suck up and transpire the excess water to encourage air pockets in the soil.

I've gone through this perched water table thing made by us humans thinking that gravel, sand, pebbles, rocks provide drainage. It is the furthest thing from the truth. Soil with small pore spaces on top of rocks, gravel, sand, styrofoam peanuts with large pore spaces, the small pores of the soil have to become saturated before water even begins to move into the large pore spaces. And THEN where does the water go? Stagnant, breeding pond of scum that most plant roots hate and rot. Saturated soil has no AIR.

Herbs, NO WAY. Sure you might get a bit at the beginning but it will be short short term. Drainage, air are critical for most plant health to include herbs. Got to have drainage and that means a hole at the bottom of the soil. No rocks, gravel, chunky monkey anything beneath the soil. Soil and then hole at the bottom. Raise the bottom of the pot off the surface with tiles, never allow plants to sit in water (we do that in intense heat and that is ok out of doors)...I hope this helps. Growing plants in terrariums is one thing, growing herbs in half a terrarium is completely another. DRAINAGE is critical. A dang hole is critical. There are ways to drill holes in glass. But why use bottles?

Finally. I found an article JUST ON THIS SUBJECT. Actually two; gravel beneath potting soil

This one is about how pots without gravel at the bottom deal with potential for perched water table, excellent article on pore spaces, air spaces, gravitational potential which is opposite matric potential perched water tables in pots

  • @sue Silly me. Do people who come to this question see this 'deleted' extra answer or is it invisible? Is the minus point for flubbing? Sigh. Thanks, Sue
    – stormy
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 21:28

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