Do Outdoor Pots Really Need Saucers? 9 Pros and Cons

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Plant with Saucer

When growing plants in pots, we often need to use a saucer to protect the table or ground beneath the pot. However, the ground or table outside may not be as important to protect. Still, it’s important to understand whether or not an outdoor pot needs a saucer.

Do outdoor pots really need saucers? An outdoor pot without a saucer can help improve the drainage so that water doesn’t build up. If a pot has a permanent saucer, that can impede the drainage and affect the health of the plant. However, growing plants in pots with outdoor saucers does have its purpose in certain cases.

Plants are God’s gift to us here on Earth. Growing flowers or produce at home can be an excellent way to connect with nature and God. Understanding the best way for plants to grow is important for plants to have a long and healthy life.

Pros of a Saucer for Outdoor Plants

Putting a saucer under a pot for an indoor plant has obvious benefits, such as protecting the counter or table. However, the pros aren’t as clear for outdoor plants, but they still exist. Considering the pros of a saucer for outdoor plants can be useful when determining if a pot requires a saucer.

Some of the advantages of using a saucer for outdoor plants are more obvious than others. Of course, the same benefits apply to outdoor plants as indoor plants, such as a layer of protection under the pot. However, other benefits of saucers are less clear, like seeing how often and how much a plant should be watered.

A saucer’s primary function is to collect water and other drainage at the bottom of a pot. While that isn’t always necessary, it can be helpful for many home gardeners. For those who are new to gardening, consider putting a saucer under plants, even when they are outside to help identify watering techniques and amounts.

As gardeners gain more experience and can better gauge when plants need special care, a saucer may not be necessary. Still, even life-long gardeners have reasons they might want to use a saucer for outdoor plants. Consider the pros before throwing the saucer away.

Protect Your Patio

Soil Washing out of Pot - Small

One of the best reasons to use a saucer under an indoor plant is that it can protect the table or windowsill. That protection can also apply to the patio and outdoor furniture. Even though they may not be as important to protect, outdoor furniture is still susceptible to damage and stains from excess drainage.

  • If a patio is damaged, it can cost a large amount of money to fix or replace it. Wood might need a new stain, while damaged concrete might mean pouring a whole new layer of concrete.
  • Damage to an outdoor table or patio furniture can also result in costly repairs or replacements.
  • Those who use the patio regularly, either for storage or entertainment, probably want to keep it looking nice.
  • A pot saucer is a cheap and effective way to keep from ruining a patio or anything on it. It also doesn’t take up much space aside from the bit of space underneath the pot.
  • The right saucer can be the perfect tool for maintaining a potted plant and keep the patio looking nice.

Putting potted plants outdoors doesn’t get rid of the fact that they can cause messes. Hopefully, plants are potted in such a way that that isn’t a cause for concern, but things happen. A saucer can give some peace of mind even for plants that are left on the patio or elsewhere outdoors.

Collect Drainage

Of course, one of the main purposes of a saucer is to collect drainage from the pot above it. As water trickles down the soil, some of it will get absorbed by the soil and the plant’s roots. However, not all the water will always be absorbed in those ways, and some might make it past the bottom of the pot.

Plants need proper drainage to remain healthy and live a long life, and while a saucer isn’t always required for drainage, it can help. When soil gets to be too wet, there’s nowhere for the excess water to go except down. That means it will end up at the bottom of the pot.

Assuming the pot has one or more holes at the bottom, the water will leak out through those holes. We recommend only using pots with holes so that the water can drain, which will help keep the plant from getting root rot. When using pots without holes, extra time and care will be necessary to drain the plant manually.

Since water naturally flows downward and out holes at the bottom of a pot, use something to collect the drainage. A pot saucer is a common option, and it makes sense for many people since special equipment or special space is not necessary.

To learn more about how to achieve optimal drainage in your pots, check out this article that we wrote – Good Drainage in Pots: DO NOT Use Rocks and Root Rot Explained.

Keep Plants Hydrated

By using a pot saucer, plants can be watered regularly without fear of the water flowing onto the precious table or patio. This can help cultivate a nice patio garden, and it can help give plants the water they need to thrive. Of course, this reason is a bit more psychological, but it’s still important to consider.

Whether planting in a drier or in a more humid climate, be sure to account for the weather when caring for outdoor plants. Gardeners who live in a dry climate need to ensure that the plants receive enough water to survive. Make sure that the water gets deep enough so that it can reach the roots of the plant.

Now, plants will still need to be watered regularly whether they have saucers or not. However, using a saucer means it is not necessary to worry about excess water. It can flow normally, and the saucer will catch it so that the water doesn’t go all over.

Keeping plants alive can take practice, but using the right tools and tricks can increase the chances of maintaining a successful plant in a pot. Gardeners who decide not to use a saucer on outdoor plants should still keep them well watered and cared for.

May Require Less Watering

In some cases, an outdoor plant in a pot with a saucer may not need as much water. Watering plants is both an art and a science, and not all plants follow the same schedule. Regardless of where a plant is planted, it will only require a specific amount of water.

  • Plants in a garden can get rid of excess water by letting it flow away in the soil. That way, the plants can stay healthy and avoid issues.
  • Whether watering those plants enough or slightly too much, they can manage their own ecosystem.
  • Remember, plants in pots don’t have nearby soil that can help move water out. Once the plant absorbs enough water, the water will flow downward.
  • When using a saucer to catch water, gardeners can see how much extra water is draining out.
  • Check the drainage at every watering session. Some gardeners may find that they don’t need as much water for a specific plant.

When using a saucer, check on it after watering and adjust watering habits based on the observations. If a constant overflow is observed, try giving the plants a little less water until minimal drainage is evident.

Below are a few articles to learn more about other recommendations for watering plants, both in containers and in the garden in general.

Our own article – When Should You Water Your Vegetable Garden?

An article from the University of Connecticut on watering houseplants.

Easier to Move if Necessary

Except for those who live in a tropical climate with very little change between seasons, outdoor plants may need to be brought indoors. As winter hits, leaving plants outside, even in pots, may not be the best idea. That’s why keeping pots on saucers could make them easier to move if and when that time comes.

It can even make it easier to move plants around outside. If one plant isn’t getting enough sun, then it is easy to move it accordingly. On the other hand, if a plant is getting too much direct light, then move that pot to a better location.

Be it the weather, sunlight, or just wanting to change things up, moving plants can be difficult. However, putting them on saucers can simplify the process.

It is not necessary to worry about soil falling out of the bottom or otherwise creating a mess because the saucer will catch it. When plants need to be moved for any reason, having them on something can be helpful. It isn’t necessary to purchase the most expensive or gorgeous saucer available, but a nice one can do the trick.

Check out this helpful article we wrote about soil falling out of the bottom of your containers – 4 Easy Ways to Keep Soil From Washing out of Pots.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Cons of a Saucer for Outdoor Plants

Container with Saucer

While multiple benefits exist to putting outdoor pots on saucers, it isn’t necessary. In some cases, using a saucer might be detrimental to certain plants. That’s why it’s worth considering the disadvantages before buying a saucer for every pot in an outdoor garden.

Perhaps one of the reasons for putting potted plants outside was to give them more fresh air. While putting a plant outside can do that, putting it on a saucer might take away from that benefit. Similarly, the wrong saucer can cause even bigger problems for plants.

Before using saucers with outdoor plants, consider the risks as well as the benefits. Gardeners may end up deciding that it’s not worth it for their plants or that a saucer would only work for one or two of their pots. In any case, consider the following cons to using a saucer on outdoor pots.

Prevent Proper Drainage

While the right saucer can improve plant drainage and catch excess water, the wrong saucer can inhibit that process. If a plant is accidentally overwatered and the saucer isn’t designed well, it can keep that water in the pot. That means that the water will be stuck with nowhere to go, and it won’t be easily visible.

  • If water draining from the bottom of the pot is never visible, then gardeners may never know that a problem exists.
  • Gardeners may even wonder if the plant needs more water, which can further the problem for any plants involved.
  • This can be a huge problem when using a saucer that’s permanently attached to the pot. While that may seem like an enticing deal, avoid these since they’re more trouble than they’re worth.
  • Saucers that are attached to pots typically won’t have the draining system needed to let out excess water.
  • Even a saucer that’s not attached can be problematic if the top of the saucer sits too close to the bottom of the pot so that water can’t flow freely.

Proper drainage is extremely important when growing plants in pots, no matter if the pots are indoors or outdoors. While you can choose a good saucer, they might be hard to find. Unfortunately, some saucers can cause more problems than they solve.

Can Be Difficult to Maintain

Because some saucers don’t allow water to drain out as it should, the excess water may need to be poured out. That can add extra time to a gardening routine, and it can be hard to gauge when that should be started. After all, if the water draining isn’t visible, then it will not be evident if a plant has the correct amount of water.

When using a pot without holes or a saucer that doesn’t allow for drainage, it will have to be drained by hand. That may mean taking the pot to the kitchen sink or the side of the yard and holding the pot on its side. Doing that will allow excess water to drain out, which can help plants.

However, do not just water plants and then drain them immediately. It is important to give plants enough time to absorb the water. It can definitely be easy to forget to come back later and drain plants when other responsibilities are elsewhere.

On the other hand, letting the water drain and then emptying the saucer is much easier. It is not necessary to worry about doing it at the right or wrong time. A lack of maintenance, in that case, can lead to damage or even the death of a plant.

Can Cause Plant Death

While plants may be minimally maintained even with a low-quality saucer, plants may still suffer. When plants have too much water and can’t get rid of the excess, that can lead to the death of certain plants. Of course, that may not happen after one day of too much water.

However, it may not take long for water to accumulate. If plants are watered every day, that water might build and build. Even watering a few times a week might cause serious problems. When using a saucer, make sure the plant can drain into it so the risk of a plant dying is minimized.

Plants Still Need Proper Watering

Even if the perfect saucer for a certain pot is used, plants still need proper care. Part of that care includes knowing when to water a plant and when it is not needed. Improperly watering a plant can lead to problems, and that includes both underwatering and overwatering.

  • Make sure to understand how much water a plant needs, regardless of being in a pot. That way, a routine can be planned accordingly.
  • Remember that different plants might have unique watering schedules.
  • Always follow the local weather forecast. When precipitation is approaching, cut back or stop watering the plants.
  • Whether using a saucer or not, make sure to let the plants drain so that they don’t end up with too much water.
  • Don’t be afraid to change if something isn’t working. That could be by using a different saucer, moving the plant or something else entirely.

One of the most important parts of maintaining plants is watering them correctly. It isn’t necessary to be an expert and know exactly how much water each plant needs. However, it is important to be familiar with the plants and what they need to grow well.

It is also important to pay attention to the plants. If one needs special attention, give it to that plant, be it in the form of a different saucer or a new watering schedule. To learn more about best practices for watering plants, see another article from the University of Connecticut.

Final Thoughts

Plants are one of God’s greatest gifts to the Earth, and we should do our best to take care of them. While an outdoor plant might benefit from a saucer, that’s not always the case. Choosing the right saucer can help plants grow, but it’s not necessary to have a thriving plant.

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Corey Leichty

Hi, I’m Corey and I love using gardening as a way to provide food for my family, learn life lessons alongside my wife, Andrea, and teach life lessons to my two sons. Do you have gardening questions? Not finding what you are looking for? Please feel free to Ask a Question (Click Here!) and I will get back with you as soon as I can!

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