5 Tips Help Your Plants Survive Your Vacation

Your Plants

Away but Not Forgotte

If you’re planning a vacation, you need to make sure your plants will survive in your absence. There are a few methods you can try. One simple solution is to use self-watering spikes. They’re affordable and easy to install. Another option is to place gallon jugs of water alongside your plants. The jugs will wick the water into the soil as needed.

1. Water Before You Leave

In the rush of packing and planning for your vacation, it can be easy to forget that all those houseplants need you to keep them hydrated. If you are away for more than a few days, your plants will dry up quickly as water evaporates from the soil. Luckily, you can prevent this by taking a few simple steps before your departure.

If you have outdoor potted plants, move them into shadier spots so that they lose less water to evaporation. This is particularly important for plants that have large leaves, as they will be more susceptible to drying out than smaller ones. It should also move indoor potted plants into shady areas, as this will help them retain moisture. If you have a large garden with many container plants, group them together so that they all get watered at the same time. This is especially important for plants that require regular watering such as vegetables and herbs.

Another way to prep your plants before you go on vacation is to give them a good soak before you leave. This will ensure that the soil is moist but not so saturated that it won’t be able to absorb anymore, and it will reduce the likelihood of mold or mildew forming in your absence. If you’re going away for a week or more, this may need to be repeated once or twice. For longer trips, a soaker hose or a bucket of water can be a great way to keep your plants happy and healthy until you return. Just be sure to test the hose or bucket before you leave to make sure it’s delivering the right amount of water.

2. The Shade Is Your Friend

If you’re traveling in the summer, it’s especially important to group your container plantings together and mass them in a shady area. This will reduce the risk of them drying out while you’re gone and it will also cut down on evaporation loss from wind. Make sure to give your plants a good pre-trip soaking in this shaded area.

Another method that works well for longer trips is to put your plants in a large plastic bag, making sure it’s big enough to completely cover each plant and pot. Add stakes or something to prevent the bags from clinging to the plants.

Some plants are more sensitive to this than others, but it’s worth a try for a little peace of mind. Just be careful not to over-saturate the bags, as this can lead to fungal problems. This method is ideal for indoor plants that can tolerate low light and humidity.

3. Self-Watering Devices Make Great Plant Sitters

Whether you’re going on vacation or just leaving the house for the day, you don’t want to leave your plants to wither in the sun. But getting someone to water your plants every time you’re out can be expensive and inconvenient. Self-watering devices are a smart, cost-effective solution to the problem.

The simple solution is to buy a set of plant watering spikes, which look similar to the ones shown here. These are inexpensive, and all you need to do is place a plastic bottle filled with water (like a single-serve soda bottle) over the spikes. Someone then dispensed the water through the spikes and into your potted plants, providing a constant flow of water to the roots.

A slightly more sophisticated version of the spikes is this model from Tecnovo, which has a reusable plastic reservoir that holds up to 1.5 liters of water. The terracotta construction of the spikes helps to regulate water flow, and it can easily accommodate a wide variety of bottle sizes.

Another option is the B SEPOR Slow Seep White Terracotta Vacation Plant Waterer, which also features a reusable reservoir with a water level indicator and can hold up to 3.8 liters of water. The terracotta is naturally absorbent and will help to regulate the flow of water to your plants, while the silicone tube reaches up to 38 inches, making it easy to use the system with any type of pot you may have at home.

One of the easiest ways to create a DIY watering system is by repurposing a wine bottle. To do this, make a series of holes in the bottle cap with a drill or hammer and nail. Fill the bottle with water and bury it in your plant’s soil, ensuring that the cap is completely submerged. The bottle will slowly drip water into the soil, ensuring your plants get enough moisture wasting none of the water that collects on the leaves and can promote the growth of diseases.

4. Take Advantage of Technology

For many plant parents, tending to their plants is not just a hobby, but a way of life. They may spend a good chunk of their day providing care, and the process often becomes an act of mindfulness, helping them to relax. So, it’s understandable why, when vacation plans come up, these plants might feel like an enormous responsibility and worry about leaving behind.

But, according to Lindsay Pangborn, a gardening expert at Blooms Cape and host of the Vulgate podcast, there are a few easy things that you can do to help your plants survive your trip. First, she recommends scheduling time to water your plants thoroughly and allowing the soil to fully absorb the moisture before leaving.

Another easy trick is to set up a timer for sprinklers or soaker hoses so that the plants get a predetermined amount of watering each day. Then, if you have a plant-sitter you trust, you can send them the schedule before you go away and make sure they are familiar with your system so that they know how to start and stop it (leaks and flooding are no one’s friend).

You can also use a capillary mat or a watering bulb to mimic your plant’s natural humidity by drawing in water from the air. Or, you can rig up your own simple wicking system by wrapping a wick—anything from a piece of yarn to a strip of cloth will do—around the base of your pot and sticking the end into a bottle filled with water.

5. Do a Little Plant-Sitter Training

The good news is that there are a lot of services available for looking after your pets, kids, and houseplants while you’re on vacation. Some, like Contiki’s plant-sitting service, are tailored to Millennial travelers. Others are more generalized house-sitting apps, but they’re still a great option for people who don’t have family or friends that they can trust to look after their plants for a week or so at a time.

Whether you’re using an app, asking a friend or family member or simply hiring a professional, give your plants a thorough once-over before you leave. Check that the potting soil is moist, and add more if needed. If you have outdoor potted plants, make sure to water them well before you go and put them in a cool shaded spot.

Be prepared to find a few casualties when you get back from your trip, but don’t panic. If your plants have yellow or brown foliage that wasn’t there before, it may just be an indicator that they were getting a little stressed while you were gone. If the foliage is extremely yellow or brown, it’s probably time to trim it.

You can also make it easier for your plant sitter to do their job by giving them a little plant-sitter training. For example, you can easily create a DIY self-watering system by filling an empty plastic bottle with water and sticking it into the first few inches of potting soil. This method will let the potting soil absorb most of the water without letting it evaporate too quickly. It’s important to provide specific instructions to your plant sitter so that they don’t accidentally over or under-water your plants.