photo courtesy of Home Aquaria
While most sources suggest drilling a hole into pots that lack them, I chose not to (mostly due to laziness and the fear of breaking one). A common alternative to this is to line the bottom of the pot with gravel.
In pots with drainage holes, gravel can serve as a way to weigh down the pot. Otherwise, it serves no purpose for several reasons.
Gravel will take up valuable space in the pot that with inhibit root growth downward and bring the soggy bottom layer of soil closer to the roots, possibly causing rot. This is because the bottom layer of soil will hold onto the water longer as water does not easily move between material of different sizes.
In a pot with no drainage holes, the gravel will act as a perched aquifer, and since you can’t see how much water is pooling up, you can cause water levels to rise and damage the plant.
The use of gravel in pots is antiquated, and you can have incredible success without it. The key is to monitor the amount of water your plant is receiving so as to not over water it.
Better alternatives to gravel include:
1. Use a moisture meter to determine moisture of underlying soil.
2. Use a syringe to water your succulents by aiming it at the root ball. This will prevent overwatering, soil disturbance, and water droplets on the leaves.
2. Place a pot with drainage holes into a decorative pot.
3. Mix in perlite to increase drainage*
4. Place gravel underneath the pot*
5. Drill a hole into the pot..
*useful only when drainage holes present.