Are you going on vacation or a business trip and are wondering how best to keep your plants watered while away? Regardless of whether you'll be gone for a weekend or a couple of weeks, there are simple and inexpensive methods to help keep your plants not just alive, but luscious and well-hydrated.
Most techniques we mention here are for plants that require daily watering, such as vegetables, so plants that are sensitive to overwatering need careful consideration. Always make sure to plan accordingly.
No matter the method you choose, the first step is to thoroughly water your plants before you leave. If you are going to be away for just a few days, a good soak may be just enough to keep your indoor plants hydrated. Fill the plants with water until it rises above the soil. For plants such as succulents and cacti that only require water every week or so, try to plan it so your trip is within their usual gap period.
As much as sunlight is important to your plants, move your potted plants and hanging baskets to a shady spot before you head out. Close your blinds, or place your plant babies in spots where there is filtered but adequate sunlight; this will ensure they retain soil moisture for a few more days when you are not around.
For outdoor plants, consider a makeshift greenhouse. Choose a clear plastic bag big enough to cover your potted plant. Add stakes to secure the bag so that it doesn't blow away. The bag will create a mini greenhouse effect. Moisture from evaporation will be trapped so that it can drip back to the plant.
The clear bag should allow sunlight to pass through, but still consider moving the pot away from direct sunlight to avoid extremely high temperatures.
Giving your plants a bath is an efficient way to keep certain houseplants watered. Small plants can fit in the sink, while the bigger ones can go in the bathtub. Wherever they go, this method only works for spots with good natural light.
Lay a towel in the bathtub and fill it with water up to a few inches. Ensure that your pots have good drainage and place them into the tub. The soil slowly draws moisture up to the roots, keeping your plant hydrated while you're away.
Outdoor plants need more water as the rate of evaporation is higher. Investing in a rain barrel or water tank will ensure a larger supply of water, especially when you are away for longer periods.
You can even attach an irrigation system or a soaker hose to provide a continual supply of water. As a result, you do not have to worry about your plants running drying out while you're gone.
A water wick is a cost-effective method to keep your indoor plants hydrated. Fill up a large container with water and place it next to your pot. Cut a length of cotton rope long enough to fit between your plant’s soil and the bottom of the water jar. Place one end of the rope into the bottom of the water container. Push the other end of the rope several inches into your plant’s soil. Make sure you position your plant and water container away from direct sunshine to prevent evaporation or the wick drying up.
This method is ideal for watering potted plants. All you need is a clean plastic bottle. Poke tiny holes close to the top of the bottle and fill it with water. After watering your plant well, quickly flip the bottle over and plunge it firmly a few inches into the soil. Ensure that the bottle is secure and not too close to your plant.
The water will slowly leak out of the bottle, keeping your soil moist. Check on your plant a few hours later to ensure that the water is draining properly.
Mulch is crucial for outdoor plants to preserve moisture. Layering your soil with mulch slows the rate at which the plants lose hydration. After watering, add two to three inches of mulch. Avoid using more than that, as it can compact the soil and block oxygen to the roots.
A drip watering system with an automatic timer is easy to set up and can help you control the amount of water. The soaker hose or sprinkler is put on a schedule, so you don’t have to worry about your plants being watered while you are away. You can also move your potted plants to an area with a sprinkler so they can benefit from timed watering.
In the case of indoor plants, use your thermostat to regulate room temperature during the winter and summer seasons, accordingly.
Enlisting the help of a reliable friend or neighbor is maybe the best way to ensure your plants are watered while you're gone, though it can be tricky to schedule.
To make things easier for them, group the potted plants together according to their watering needs and leave detailed instructions on how much water they require. You can also set up any of the methods above so that all your neighbor will have to do is occasionally come to top up the watering system.