Cactus Mug Planters + Managing Plants with No Drainage

(This post contains affiliate links)

(This post contains affiliate links)

Before I get started I should say, in the world of indoor gardening, container gardening (with no drainage) is a huge topic. People have opinions about it, for sure. And if you have a habit of over-watering then there probably will be an issue, but this can all be very easily remedied, especially with succulents. Cactus and succulents of all varieties are pretty low maintenance, don’t take much water, and will basically acclimate to any conditions, except over watering. Basically, the issue here is water. (Are you surprised?) And I get it, no one wants their hard work wasted, or to waste money, or plants, or planters. Luckily, I’ve got a few preventative measures that should do the trick. Plus if you do over-water it, even that can be remedied if you figure it out in time. I’ll give you a few tips on how to know when this is happening and how to fix it.

How to tell if you’ve got a water-logged plant

  1. Drooping or Sagging - If you plant looks like it’s going to fall over or is shrinking, this is a good sign that there is too much water weighing it down.

  1. Soggy - Especially with succulents, especially at the base of the plant. If your plant is yellowing, or worse browning at the base, it is definitely water-logged.

  2. Weak and Bendy Branches or Needles - Just like overcooked food, plants getting too much water will lack shape and structure. Keep an eye out for this, because it’s one of the early signs.

  3. Discoloration - Yellowing can be both a sing of dehydrated plants and also poor mineral absorption from over-watering. When your plants are getting enough sunshine but still are discolored, then they’re probably over-watered.

  4. Very Wet Soil - Obvious, right? The trick here is noticing when soil starts to separate or has small floating pieces. Just like a puddle in your yard, you can tell the water isn’t setting into one area the way it is in others.

  5. Smell - If the roots of a plant have begun to rot as a result of getting too much water, they may start to smell. This goes right along with the sogginess. So, if you walk by a plant in your home and notice a funny smell you may want to take a closer look. Just like too much moisture in your trash, too much water in plants will give them a bad smell.


What to do

  1. Soil Tester - A soil tester will help you not make this mistake in the first place. If you’re new to indoor gardening or have chosen a finicky plant like orchids, this might be the best option.

  2. Rocks - You can give planters with no drainage holes a mock drainage system, use a few small rocks inside you planter before planting. This way the water can go beneath the soil, and collect in the rocks instead. You’ll still have to be careful about watering, but it helps.

  3. Spray Bottle - I, almost exclusively, water container plants with a spray bottle. If there’s nowhere for the water to go, this is the best option in my opinion. You can also use it to water plants and to dust your leaves as you go along.

  4. Sunshine - If your plant is already too wet, put it in a sunnier spot, maybe even outdoors for a little while. Choose a shady spot, near sun, and let it dry for an hour or two. Make sure to bring it back in to its normal environment as soon as possible. If you’re really invested, try a grow light. This used to be a kind of unaccessible option, but now they’re making full spectrum lights for less than $20.

  5. Compost or New Soil - Compost and new soil on the plant can not only help absorb some of the excess water, but also, replenish nutrients in older soil and help your plant recover healthier than before.

  6. Move the Plant - In the case you do over-water, and none of the above steps have helped—take your plant out of its container and shake off as much soil as you can, trim off the rotten roots (if any), and put it in a new planter with some new soil.


Now that that’s out of the way, this plant is called Euphorbia Mammillaris, or Indian Corn Cob, or Corn Cob Cactus. I found them on Amazon and Etsy. I had to spend some time finding what this plant is called, by the way. All I knew was that it was a Euphorbia variety, but when I saw Corn Cob I figured that’s what I had, because it does look a lot like a corn cob. I assumed by how big this succulent is, that there would be a bunch of little plants in this container. It’s actually one plant with little ones growing off of it. They twist off super easy from the main plant, and have been growing in my house for about two weeks now. You can see some of the cuttings have more complicated root systems than others, but they root pretty easy once they’re separated.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

Cactus Mug Planters


  • Clean your mugs well

  • Separate your cactus by shaking off the majority of the soil on the plant, but keep the dirt nearby because we’ll add it to the planters later

  • Separate your cuttings from the main plant by twisting them off

  • Add soil about 3/4 up your planter mug and spray it once or twice to set with a spray bottle

  • Drop plants in, making sure your roots are covered and top will more cactus soil if needed, spray one more time to set

  • Use your spray bottle to shake off any excess dirt remaining on the plant itself

  • Water 1-2x per week or as needed