7 Houseplants That Don’t Require Drainage

Updated: Apr. 26, 2023

If you have a container without holes for drainage, you can still grow a houseplant in it — at least for a while.

Variegated pothos plant sitting on the shelf in a gray potJENNY SUN/GETTY IMAGES

Interested in growing a houseplant in a container with no drainage holes? Then choose houseplants that prefer moist soil and be careful not to overwater them.

For a short time, they may do well. But if they begin to wilt (a sign of root rot) or otherwise fail to thrive, consider giving them a new container with fresh soil and drainage holes.

As Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, the houseplant guru and author Houseplants: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Growing, and Caring for Indoor Plants says, “I don’t think any plant is okay with wet soil. There are some that don’t want to dry out, but sitting in wet soil is not any plant’s preference.”

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Closeup shot of green Selaginella kraussiana plant leaves for background
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Club Moss, Selaginella kraussiana

Club moss grows well in the tropics in shade and moist, wet soils, making it a good houseplant for a dish garden without drainage. It also needs higher humidity, so consider putting it in a bathroom.

Club moss is easy to root as roots form along the stems. According to North Carolina State Extension, cold water can shock this plant, so always use room temperature water.

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Peace Lily Growing In Pot By Blue Lantern
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Peace Lily, Spathiphyllum

At one time, peace lilies were grown only in water, and you could buy vases just for doing this. Generally, peace lilies don’t mind moist soils at all. If allowed to dry out, they’ll wilt, but fortunately they’ll bounce back quickly once you’ve watered them.

In a container with no drainage holes, water when the top of the soil is dry, or when you first see the plant wilt. Hold back on the watering if the plant is wilting in wet soil.

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Bird of paradise flowers
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Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia reginae

This is another plant from the tropics you can grow in a pot without drainage holes if you don’t overwater it. Stick your finger an inch or so into the soil to ensure it’s dry, then water carefully to avoid pooling in the bottom of the container. These houseplants also prefer high humidity, so mist occasionally.

In the winter, when the bird of paradise grows more slowly, you may need to water it only once a month.

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Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) plant in a vase at home
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Lucky Bamboo, Dracaena sanderiana

Lucky bamboo, like the peace lily, is sometimes sold in a vase of water, with rocks added at the bottom for the roots to grow. You can also find these plants with the stems braided or twisted together.

Though not a true bamboo, this houseplant clearly likes and thrives in water, but will also grow in moist soil. Put your container of lucky bamboo where it gets good, indirect light, and don’t let it dry out.

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Close-Up Of Potted Venus Flytrap Plant At Home
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Venus Fly Trap, Dionaea muscipula

Venus fly trap is often sold as a novelty plant. It naturally grows in bogs where the soil is wet, acidic and lacking in nutrients. Give it the same conditions by planting it in a potting soil with lots of peat moss.

In a container without drainage, keep the soil moist, but don’t add so much water that it goes stagnant and smells bad. Chlorinated tap water can harm these plants, so collect rainwater to give it.

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Epipremnum aureum
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Pothos, Epipremnum aureum

Pothos is another tough houseplant that will tolerate a container without drainage holes, at least for a while. This is why you’ll often find it growing in a dish garden.

Allow the soil to dry out a bit before watering, and don’t add so much that it can’t absorbed. If you do add too much water, carefully pour off the excess.

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Tillandsia in basket on morning nature background
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Air Plants, Tillandsia sp.

Containers without drainage holes are great to grow air plants, which don’t require any soil at all. These plants are easy to care for.

Mist them frequently or give them a weekly bath in room temperature water. Then shake off any water and put them back in the container. Many air plants will also flower, a bonus for any houseplant.