How to water houseplants while away

It’s time to get in vacation mode and leave your responsibilities behind! But before you go, make sure that your plant babies are accounted for — you’ve taken such good care of them and would hate to see them withering away when you return. There are solutions to this that are quick, frugal and long-lasting. We’re here to prove that your plants don’t need a babysitter because we have six how to water indoor plants while on vacation, even the sensitive ones! Each vacation plant watering system will put you at ease while hitting the beach.

Plant Types & Needs

The types of indoor plants you keep will make a significant difference in the water level they need to stay healthy in your absence. Succulents and cacti don’t require any special care and prefer to be left alone. Your indoor vegetable garden and herbs, on the other hand, are going to need more attention than most. Don’t attempt any self-watering system with orchids, as their roots need to dry out between waterings–you’re better off leaving these plants with a friend while you’re gone.

Tip: how to water indoor plants without making a mess

How to water houseplants while away

First things first, make sure you test these methods out a few weeks before leaving for your trip. It’s important that the way you set it up is actually working because sometimes plant watering methods require slight tweaking to work.

Don’t forget to give your plants a thorough watering before you leave even if you are using one of these methods.

Use Self-Watering Planters

If you’re going away for longer periods of time (or are prone to overwatering), self-watering planters are a great way to keep your babies happy. These are a few different types, but what I’ve had the most luck with are planters with an inner pot that sit on top of a water reservoir. The inner pot has extra drainage holes where you can thread rope to draw water from the reservoir up to the soil, keeping it at the right moisture level. Make sure to change the water when you get back from vacation to avoid breeding gnats and pests.

how to water houseplants while away

how to water houseplants while away

Give your plants a bath method

For pots with good drainage, you can give them a bath while you’re away. Well, sort of.

Fill up your sink or bathtub with a few inches of water and lay a towel inside to protect against scratches. Rest your potted plants in the sink and leave them there while you’re gone. The soil will draw water up to the roots, keeping the plant hydrated for up to one week.

Take stock of the lighting conditions near your sink or tub — if your plants need a lot of sunlight, don’t keep them in a dark bathroom.

how to water houseplants while away

how to water houseplants while away

Simple Wick System

To make a simple wick system that will automatically water a potted plant, all you need is a container for the water and some kind of absorbent material that you can use for a wick.

For the wick, you can use anything from rope, twine, and yarn to a clothesline and candle wicks. The material can be cotton, nylon, or fiberglass, as long as it absorbs water well. If all you have is thin cord, braid it to create a thicker wick.

You may also be able to use a strip of cloth cut from an old T-shirt, microfiber cloth, terrycloth towel, or felt if the water container is set close enough to the plant.

Basically, cotton is the best material for water absorption, while synthetics are more resistant to rotting and would be a better choice for long time periods. It’s best to test the wick material out to make sure it works well before depending on it to deliver water to your plants while you are gone.

As for the container, you can use just about anything that will hold water, and you can either set up individual systems for each potted plant or use one larger container for multiple plants. You just need to make sure you have sufficient water to last for the duration of your vacation time.

So, what you do is place one end of the wick in the water container, making sure it reaches the bottom so it doesn’t end up drying out as the water gets used up, and poke the other end a couple of inches into the just-watered potting soil, being careful not to disturb the roots.

how to water houseplants while away

how to water houseplants while away

Plastic bottles method

This method is perfect for keeping potted plants watered if you are away for up to a week.

Use a large plastic bottle and poke two holes in the bottom and three to five holes on one side of the bottle.

Dig a hole next to your plant deep enough to bury the bottle in up to the neck.

Once the bottle is in place with the holes facing towards your plant, fill with water and pat the soil around the bottle to firm it in slightly.

You can replace the lid if you want to slow down the water rate or leave it off if you are only going away for a short period.

Check back after a few hours to make sure a little of the water has drained away – if no water has drained out, loosen the cap a little. If too much water has drained away, tighten the cap.

how to water houseplants while away

how to water houseplants while away

Use a zip lock plastic bag and thread

This method is a cheap, easy and leak-proof way to water your indoor plants while you‘re on holiday.

You will need: a plastic zip lock bag, cotton thread, an extremely fine needle, scissors.

Thread the needle with a long piece of cotton and pass the needle through the centre bottom of the bag, off to one side of the seam so it protrudes from a flat surface.

Fill the bag with water

Put bag in the pot with your plant and lay the cotton thread (unobstructed) flat onto the surface of the soil.

Do a test run before going on holiday to determine how much water your plant will need while you are away, and how much water you will need to have in the bag to cater to your plant’s needs. Go up or down a size to accommodate.

You can increase the flow of water using this method by adding a second cotton thread to the same plastic bag.

how to water houseplants while away

how to water houseplants while away

Make a mini greenhouse

If you have a manageable number of plants, you can buy a water-recycling terrarium or DIY one with a large clear plastic bag and keep them happy for months. Put the open bag on a waterproof floor in a room that will stay at a moderate temperature (cool in summer, warm in winter) and out of direct sun.

To avoid tearing the bag, carefully spread a moist towel along the bottom, and arrange as many well-watered potted plants on the towel as will fit. Pull up the sides of the bag over the plant(s), blowing in air to puff out the bag, and twist it shut on top. Seal it with a twist tie or a rubber band. For an extra-airtight closure, fold the twisted portion in half, and wrap it with another rubber band.

The plants inside will release water from their leaves and the excess will drip back down onto the potting soil, where it will be available to the roots again. I used the same plastic bag for three years to get the plants in my college dorm through school holidays, and they were still growing when I graduated.

You can do the same for plants in outdoor containers. Just remember: Whether your plants are indoors or outdoors, keep them out of direct sunlight or your terrarium bag will turn into a solar cooker.

how to water houseplants while away

how to water houseplants while away

A simple yet effective way to ensure your plants are looked after while you are away is to enlist the help of a friend or neighbour.

Make sure you offer to return the favour when they are going away! To make things easier for them you could set up one of the how to water houseplants while away listed above.

Meaning your plant sitter only has to pop in once or twice to top up the homemade watering systems, rather than every day you are away.

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