Garden & Greenhouse


DIY Tray Drains for Orchids and Houseplants

Posted February 1st, 2019 by Garden & Greenhouse in , ,

If you grow orchids or other houseplants at home, you have probably found the advantages of using standard horticultural trays for organizing your plants or simply for catching drips when you water. Many people also use them for “humidity trays” too, but sometimes, however, the water level can get too high and overflow right onto the floor. Here’s a method of creating tray drains we used to control the level.

Parts Needed

  • Tray
  • Several feet of clear, 3/8″ OD vinyl tubing
  • Silicone glue
  • Bucket

Tools Needed

  • Drill with 3/8″ bit


  1. Drill a hole in the bottom of tray. I usually did so in one corner of the tray, in one of the depressed grooves provided for drainage, but the location is not critical
  2. Insert the tubing through the hole, keeping the top of the tubing 1/4 to 1/2″ inside the tray, with the remainder going out through the bottom
  3. Place silicone glue on the tube to hold it in place, being sure to get a good seal
  4. Let dry per the silicone glue label

The finished tray should look something like this:

When it’s ready, put the tray on your stand, and place the long end of the tubing into your bucket to catch the overflow. If you want to keep the trays on a flat countertop, drill the hole in the side of the tray instead, and don’t let the tubing protrude as far from the wall. It’s probably a good idea to add extra silicone to the outside for mechanical support. It’s best to have the drain hole as close to the bottom as possible.

Ray Barkalow has been growing orchids for over 45 years, and owns First Rays, which offers horticultural products to the hobby grower. He may be contacted at and you can visit his website at

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