Are you planning a vacation or a long work trip and worried about how to keep indoor plants alive during the vacations? don’t care!
Whether you possess a single cherished plant passed down from a five-year-old grandmother or an impressive collection of over 100 (similar to my own), this article is here to guide you toward the ideal methods for keeping your plants thriving while you’re away.
Over the years, I’ve conducted experiments with various techniques and products while traveling within my native country. Quite recently, I faced a three-week absence, leaving behind more than 100 of my beloved plants.
Upon my return, I concluded that the most recent “method for watering plants while away” that I employed was the most effective yet! Finish this article to learn about the best way to keep indoor plants alive.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to watering plants during your absence. The type, size, and number of plants in your home will determine your technique. However, extensive planning is required before the trip. Be sure to read the “Before you go” section for helpful advice Finally, any products recommended in this article are not my property. The companies I use and trust are the only reasons I endorse these products.
10 Best way to keep indoor plants alive
1. Group your plants together on a tray of pebbles and water
To boost the humidity around your plants, consider clustering them on a bed of pebbles and introducing water. This method aids in retaining moisture, reducing the frequency of watering1. Here’s how to go about it:
- Locate a spacious tray that accommodates all your plants. Options include a baking sheet, a plastic container, or even a wooden crate.
- Fill the tray with clean, dust-free pebbles, gravel, or small rocks.
- Position your plants on the pebbles, ensuring their pots feature drainage holes. Group your plants based on their water requirements and light preferences.
- Pour water into the tray, ensuring it stays just below the pebbles’ surface to prevent root rot.
- Regularly monitor the water level and top up as needed. The water will evaporate, creating a humid microenvironment for your plants.
2. Use a wine bottle or a plastic bottle to water your plants slowly
You have the option to employ a wine bottle or a plastic bottle equipped with a perforated cap to administer slow and deliberate hydration to your plants. By filling the bottle with water and inverting it into the soil of your plant, a gradual drip system is created to maintain soil moisture. To accomplish this, adhere to the following steps:
- Procure a suitable wine bottle or plastic container capable of holding an adequate water supply for your plant. The choice of bottle size can be tailored to the dimensions of your pot and the duration of your absence.
- Ensure that the chosen bottle is meticulously cleaned, free from any labels or stickers. If you desire a touch of personalization, consider embellishing the bottle with paint, stickers, or ribbons.
- Proceed to create a small hole in the bottle’s cap, using a nail, screwdriver, or drill. The hole should be approximately 1/8 inch in diameter. In the case of a wine bottle, the option of employing a cork instead of a cap is available.
- Fill the bottle with water and securely fasten the cap (or cork). If you wish to nourish your plant during your absence, you can mix liquid fertilizer with the water.
- Invert the bottle and gently insert it into the soil of your plant, positioning it near the pot’s edge. It is essential to ensure that the hole in the cap is oriented downward, not sideways, to prevent excessive water leakage.
- Fine-tune the angle and depth of the bottle until a steady drip of water emerges from the hole. To determine the bottle’s duration, you can measure the remaining water after a day. This method offers an effective means of maintaining optimal plant hydration in your absence.
3. Move your plants away from direct sunlight and into a shady spot
You have the option to move your plants away from direct sunlight and into a shaded area. This practice serves to diminish the rate of evaporation and moderates the temperature surrounding your plants. Additionally, consider utilizing curtains or blinds to diffuse the incoming light12. Here’s how to go about it:
- Begin by distinguishing which plants require ample sunlight and which can thrive in low-light conditions. This information can often be found on your plant labels or through online research on their light preferences.
- Seek out an appropriate location within your home that offers indirect or filtered light. Potential spots include north-facing windows, corners, or hallways. Be cautious of areas with drafts, heaters, or air conditioners, as these can lead to dryness in your plants.
- Transfer your plants to their new placement and arrange them based on their size and shape. Grouping them according to their water requirements and light preferences is also beneficial.
- To control the sunlight exposure, partially or fully draw the curtains or blinds. Alternatively, you can utilize sheer fabrics, paper, or cardboard to create a makeshift shade for your plants. This adjustment ensures that your plants receive the appropriate amount of light while shielding them from excessive direct sun.
4. Cover your small plants with a plastic container or a bag
One effective method to safeguard your small plants is by covering them with a plastic container or bag, essentially creating a miniature greenhouse. This approach traps moisture and warmth, ensuring your plants remain adequately hydrated and protected from drying out. It’s crucial, however, to introduce some ventilation by puncturing holes in the plastic2. Here are the steps to follow:
- Begin by sourcing a transparent plastic container or a bag that is sufficiently spacious to cover your plant without coming into contact with its leaves. Options include repurposing an empty soda bottle, a salad container, or utilizing a ziplock bag.
- If the container is sealed, you can enhance air circulation by either removing the bottom of the container or creating slits in the bag. This measure helps prevent the development of mold.
- Prior to covering your plant with the plastic, ensure that it is thoroughly watered and allowed to drain completely. It’s essential to strike a balance and avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
- Position the container or bag over your plant and secure it in place using tape, string, or rubber bands. Verify that there are no openings where air may escape.
- Introduce ventilation by puncturing small, evenly spaced holes in the plastic. Alternatively, you can leave a small opening at the top of the container or bag for additional airflow. This method forms a protective barrier, maintaining an ideal environment for your small plants to thrive.
5. Place your plants in your bathtub or a kiddie pool with water
Put your plants in a bathtub or kiddie pool with one to two inches of water to hydrate them. This lets plants receive rainwater from the bottom through drainage holes. Avoiding overwatering requires removing saucers from pots1. How to do:
- Choose a bathtub or kiddie pool that fits all your plants. A huge plastic tub, sink, or shower cubicle are other options.
- Fill the bathtub or pool with 1–2 inches of water. Mix liquid fertilizer with water to feed your plants while you’re away.
- Put pot saucers and trays in the water. Keep pot water below the rim to avoid root rot.
- Sort plants by size and shape. For efficient upkeep, group them by water and light needs.
- Check the water level every few days and refill as needed. This guarantees that your plants’ soil and roots absorb enough moisture to thrive.
6. Skip fertilizing your plants and prune any dead or yellow leaves
Before your departure, consider refraining from applying fertilizer to your plants, as this practice can promote rapid growth and heightened water consumption, potentially placing stress on them during your absence. Additionally, prioritize pruning any signs of disease, pests, or damage, particularly dead, yellow, or brown leaves, stems, or flowers, utilizing sharp scissors or pruning shears. This proactive approach serves to minimize the risk of infection and enhance overall air circulation. Here’s a step-by-step guide to executing this:
- Commence by discontinuing the application of fertilizer to your plants at least two weeks before your planned departure. This deliberate action prevents accelerated growth and excessive water usage, which can be detrimental in your absence.
- Conduct a thorough inspection of your plants to identify any indications of disease, pest infestations, or physical damage. Swiftly remove any afflicted portions, including dead, yellow, or brown leaves, stems, or flowers, using precision tools such as sharp scissors or pruning shears. This measure not only safeguards your plants from further harm but also contributes to improved airflow.
- Tackle any leggy, overgrown, or unruly branches that may be occupying excessive space or obstructing vital light sources. Pruning these areas will impart a tidier and more compact appearance to your plants.
- Responsibly dispose of all plant debris by either depositing it in a compost bin or sealing it within a trash bag. Avoid leaving discarded material on the soil or in the water, as this can attract unwanted pests and foster fungal growth. This diligent maintenance ensures your plants remain in optimal condition during your absence.
7. Regulate your plant’s temperature by adjusting the thermostat or using a fan
Plant health depends on maintaining their ideal temperature range. Fine-tuning your thermostat or using a fan can help. Staying aware about future weather, such as heatwaves or cold snaps, helps you prepare. This extensive guide will help you keep your plants at the right temperature:
- Begin by determining the optimal temperature range for your specific plants. You can find this information on the labels that accompany your plants or by conducting online research to understand their temperature preferences.
- Control indoor temperature using proactive measures. Use a programmable thermostat to automatically regulate the temperature at night and throughout the day. This stabilizes plant conditions.
- When the temperature rises to levels that may be unfavorable for your plants, employ a fan to circulate the air and provide cooling. Alternatively, you can open windows or doors to allow fresh air to flow in, helping mitigate excessively warm conditions.
- Protect your plants in cold weather. Protect them from the cold with blankets, newspapers, or cardboard. To protect them from cold winds, move them away from drafty windows and doors.
- Stay ahead of potential weather fluctuations by checking the weather forecast before your departure. This allows you to make informed decisions and adjust your plant care routine accordingly. If possible, enlist the help of a friend or neighbor to monitor your plants and make temperature adjustments as needed. This thoughtful approach ensures that your plants remain comfortable and healthy in your absence.
8. Ask a friend or a neighbor to check on your plants and water them if needed
It’s a wise idea to seek assistance from a reliable friend or neighbor who possesses knowledge about plant care. They can help ensure your plants receive the necessary attention, including watering, during your absence. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to go about it:
- Find someone you trust and who knows plant care. You may even consider offering to reciprocate the favor when they are away on vacation.
- Provide clear and detailed instructions to your chosen helper regarding the care requirements for each plant. This includes specifying when and how much to water each plant. You can simplify this process by labeling each plant with its name and watering schedule.
- Equip your friend or neighbor with all the essential tools and supplies needed for plant care. This may include watering cans, spray bottles, fertilizer, scissors, and any other relevant items.
- Familiarize them with the location of your plants and how to access them. If necessary, provide them with a spare key or a security code to ensure easy entry to your home.
- Maintain communication with your chosen helper throughout your absence. Express your gratitude for their assistance, and consider sharing some vacation photos as a token of appreciation. This thoughtful approach ensures that your plants receive the care they need, even when you’re not there to tend to them.
9. Use self-watering pots or devices for your plant
Consider utilizing self-watering pots or devices designed with built-in reservoirs that store and gradually release water into the soil. This approach effectively maintains your plants’ hydration over extended periods, all while preventing overwatering. Here’s how to go about it:
- Purchase or make plant-specific self-watering pots. Gardening supply stores and online retailers sell these products. Plastic bottles, cotton wicks, and clay pots can be used to make your own.
- Fill the reservoirs within these pots or devices with water and insert the wicks or tubes into the soil of your plants. These wicks or tubes function as capillaries, ensuring that water is delivered directly to the roots as required.
- Regularly monitor the water levels in the reservoirs, refilling them as needed. Many of these self-watering systems are equipped with indicators or gauges that display the remaining water supply.
- Adhere to any instructions provided with your self-watering pots or devices. Some may incorporate timers, sensors, or valves to regulate the flow of water, ensuring optimal care for your plants.
10. Install a drip irrigation system for your plants
Consider installing a drip irrigation system that uses hoses, emitters, or sprinklers to feed water directly to the soil, eliminating overwatering and underwatering. Here’s a tutorial:
- Procure or assemble a drip irrigation system tailored to your plant’s needs. You can find these systems online or at gardening supply stores. Alternatively, create your own using plastic tubing, connectors, valves, and emitters.
- A faucet, hose, or rain barrel can supply water to the system. A pressure regulator, filter, or backflow preventer may be needed for water flow and quality.
- Arrange the tubing along your plants and attach the emitters or sprinklers to the tubing. Position these emitters or sprinklers near the base of each plant or pot for optimal watering.
- Fine-tune the flow rate and frequency of the system to match your plant’s specific water requirements and prevailing weather conditions. You can also introduce a timer, sensor, or controller to automate the irrigation process.
- Conduct system tests to identify any leaks or blockages. Additionally, keep an eye on soil moisture levels and overall plant health to ensure the system is effectively maintaining your plants.