There’s nothing like going on vacation and taking a trip away from the pressures and weight of the world. Studies show that vacations are great for health and wellbeing. The only problem is that you’ve got plants at home that need watering. Thankfully it’s not that difficult to take care of plants while you’re gone. You just need to put a bit of thought and planning into it.
Houseplants, much like humans, can survive for a few days without water. Some of them are even able to last up to a week by themselves without any extra work from you. If you’ll only be gone a little while, you might be able to get away with giving them one last drink before you leave. Just don’t forget to also move them out of direct sunlight, so they don’t wither while you’re gone.
Not all vacations are short and sweet, though. Here are some ideas on how to water indoor plants while on vacation for those longer journeys away from home.
Things to do Before you Leave
Before you start getting ready to go off to your vacation, there are some things you can do in order to properly prepare your plants. A bit of planning can ensure that your plants retain as much moisture as possible. Below, we will go through the simple steps you should take to allow your plants to keep as much moisture as they can while you are away.
Firstly, the preparation will depend on how long you intend to be gone. If you are going away for a week or less, then there is not a lot you need to before leaving. Your priority should be to ensure that all plants are watered well before you leave. Additionally, you should leave your plants in a location where they won’t face too much sunlight since this can speed up the water intake. You can consider moving them to a cooler part of the home, such as a basement or garage. However, it is important that they get enough light while you are away. Houseplants will be fine without water for a week if they are kept in suitable conditions.
One method that can reduce the risk of your plants being dried out is increasing the water retention of the potting mixture. You can do this by applying some mulch on top of the potting soil. The material of the mulch can be made out of many things such as moss, stones, and pebbles. Both of these steps mentioned will be more than enough for all houseplants if you will be gone less than a week. However, if you will be gone for a prolonged period of time, then you will need to consider how your plants will be watered while you are away. Below, we go through all of the ways you can ensure that your indoor plants are watered while you are on vacation.
How to Work Out Watering Needs
But, before you consider how you will get your plants watered, you also need to figure out what the watering needs will be while you are gone. This should be your first consideration since it is the only way that you can be sure that your plants will get the correct amount of water while you are gone. It is crucial that you provide your plants with a suitable amount of water. In this article, we will go through a variety of methods for watering your plants. Some of them involve DIY systems that will run through a water supply that has a specific amount. This makes it crucial to provide these systems with enough water to last the duration of your vacation.
Therefore, it is essential to start planning this 2 or 3 weeks before you set off for your vacation. You can start by noting down how often you water each plant. The current season will also be relevant when you consider watering requirements. It is best to use a watering cup during this period so that you can be accurate with how much water your plants need. This will allow you to quickly note down the exact requirements for each plant. You shouldn’t rely on any previous information since requirements can quickly change. Factors such as the growing stage and age of the plant can have a considerable impact on watering requirements. Although it may seem like a hassle, you should use new data every time you go out on vacation.
Calling a Friend or Neighbor
Firstly, we will start with the tried and trusted method. It can also be the most reliable method if you pick the right person. If you’ve got a friend or neighbor who knows their stuff – and can be trusted – then you could ask them to visit your house every so often while you are gone and taking care of the plants.
Even someone who doesn’t really know about plants can do the job if you make sure to tell them what your plants know. Take note of how much water your plants need – and how often they require watering – for the weeks leading up to the vacation. You can use the information to write specific instructions for the plant babysitter telling them which plant to water and how much water to give it. Most people will be able to follow these instructions without any trouble. However, you should make the differentiation between the plants very clear since it can be easy to get similar plants mixed up.
You can make things easier for your friend by keeping plants with similar needs grouped together. Place them down somewhere waterproof out of direct sunlight. Don’t forget that your house could get warmer in the summer without you there to control the air conditioning. Be sure to make any adjustments to care instructions in order to account for the extra heat using up extra water. We go through many watering solutions and systems in this article, but this is by far one of the easiest methods to implement. Even if you do have a system in place, it can be worth telling a friend or neighbor to check up occasionally to see if it is working properly.
DIY Automatic Houseplant Watering Systems
One of the best and easiest ways to ensure that your plants are watered is by setting up DIY automatic watering systems. They are fairly simple to construct, and they can ensure stable water flow to your plants during the time that you are gone. They can be made out of everyday items that you can easily find around your home. These include items such as bottles, tubs, cords, and plastic bags.
The core mechanism behind DIY watering systems works through providing water in small doses to your plants. The flow goes directly to the potting mix of your plants to ensure that they are sufficiently hydrated. One crucial thing to keep in mind with these systems is the potting soil must be soaking, and it should start to drain before you set up the DIY system. Once the automatic watering system is set up, it will replace the water that evaporates. This is then directly absorbed by the plant roots. When the system is working normally, it will ensure that moisture in your roots remains consistent.
Another similar mechanism involves slow dripping water into your pants. This is different because it will simply pour water at a consistent rate. This is in contrast to the first system, which allows the soil to draw out the water that it loses. The slow drip mechanism does have risks that can lead to excess water flow. If you get the measurements wrong and use too much water, then the roots can easily drown. However, it is just as likely that you use too little water, which case, it will empty too quickly, which will lead to dryness in the plant. Regardless of which technique you use, it is vital to do a test run before you leave for vacation. This is the only way to know if the watering system will be effective or not.
Considerations to Take into Account for Self Watering Systems
Before you consider using a self-watering system for your plants, there are a few important things that you should know. Firstly, you should know that these systems are not suitable for all types of plants. The systems work best for plants that are suited to having consistent moisture in their soil. However, automatic watering systems are not useful for succulents and orchids, since these plants need to completely dry out in between separate waterings.
However, it is also important to note that these plants typically require fewer waterings. They may be able to survive fine without water for a week or two if they are in their resting periods. You may still need someone to come round and water them infrequently if you will be away for a longer period of time.
Setting up a Wick System
If you’ve got large plants you can’t move, would prefer to not use plastic bags, or you just have that many plants, then one of the best ways to water your plants is by setting up an automatic watering wicking system. These systems can keep indoor and outdoor plants alike going in the long run. What you need is some kind of absorbent wicking material such as strips of cotton from a shirt, thick yarn, or scraps of natural-fiber rope. It can be pretty much anything so long that is absorbs water well.
A thin cord can also work if you braid it together for extra thickness. You can also use a strip of cloth that can be cut from old clothing or a microfiber cloth. Cotton tends to be the best material for water absorption, whereas synthetic materials are more resistant to rot, which makes them ideal for longer periods. Whatever material you choose, it is essential to test that it works well at watering your plants.
You also need a container such as a pail or bottle. Basically, anything that holds water will do the job. You can either pick separate smaller containers for each plant or choose a large one to fit them all in. It’s worth putting together a test pot before going away to make sure that things work as intended. It is important to make sure that the container will be able to hold enough water for the time that you are away.
When you have the equipment in place, you can begin to set up the automatic wiking system. Place a container of water by the plant; one large container can cater to several plants. Place one end of the wick material into the water so that it reaches the bottom of the container. That way, your plants will get all the water they need as they drink through the container. The other end of the wick should be inserted around three inches deep into the moist soil the plant is kept in. Water travels along with the wick as the soil dries out to keep it fresh and moist for plants.
Plastic Bag Wick System
There is also another type of wick system that makes use of a re-sealable plastic bag. You use the bag together with a string that is directly poked through right to the bottom of each plant. The items you need for this method are a needle, thread, and some resealable plastic bags. These are common items that can usually be found around the home. It is ideal to use a very thin needle for this method, which should be in the 8-12 range. This will allow the needle to wick the water rather than allowing it to drop out.
The system will need to be tested to find the ideal drainage rate. It will depend on the size of your needle as well as the material of the thread you use. Below we will go through the steps to take in order to set up this system.
Firstly, you will need to insert the thread about 20cm through the needle. You should then tie the ends into a large knot. Then it will be time to put the needle through the inside near the bottom of the bag. Finally, you should cut the thread in the part that is right above the needle.
When your bag is set up, you can get the system up and running. You should fill the bag with water and place it on top of the container and have the wick facing down. You can then leave this for two hours. After, you should measure how much water has gone through, and this will be your drainage rate. You can then calculate how many bags in total you will need for your plans. This nifty method is a great way to ensure that your plants get accurately watered while you are gone.
Simple Drip Systems
You also have the option of setting up simple drip systems that can be made from plastic and glass bottles. No other equipment is required, which makes these systems very convenient to setup. Regular plastic bottles work well for smaller plants. You should fully clean it out, and then you can poke a few small holes in the top of the bottle or the cap. You can then start to fill the bottle with water and put the cap back on. After this, you should quickly invert it and insert it into the potting mixture. The holes should be covered by the potting mixture.
If you have a plant that requires large containers, then a better option is to use a glass wine bottle or any other type of large bottle that doesn’t require holes. However, there is a small risk that the opening can get clogged by the soil. You can reduce this risk by adding some screening to the top part of the bottle.
Ceramic and terracotta bottles tend to work well at slowly dispersing water. Overall, these simple drip systems are good to use as a last resort. They may not be the most reliable or accurate methods; however, they are the easiest to setup. If you are looking for another convenient option, then you can consider watering globes. These work well for short vacations, and for when the plants will be occasionally checked. One drawback of watering globes is that you can’t increase the quantity since this will only up the rate of dispersion.
Another nifty water solution involves using plant baths. This method requires you to fill up a bath or tub with water and then placing your watered potted plants inside. The amount of water should be a few inches deep. If you use this method, then it is advisable to use a towel or cloth to cut out the risk of any scratches. Also, this method only works if the pots have drainage holes. This simple method works well for smaller plants to get the water they need. However, it is difficult for larger plants, which may not be convenient to lift. Additionally, it can only work in locations with sufficient lighting. If your tub is in a room without windows, then your plants will not be able to get enough light.
The Capillary Mat is a method that somewhat combines the concepts of wicks and plant baths. The name capillary mat comes from a specific action called capillary action, which plants use to wick water from reservoir to soil. The transfer occurs through the use of absorbent material. This method works best with smaller plants that are easily moveable. Additionally, they should have drainage holes in the bottom.
Capillary Mats can be found in department stores and gardening centers. However, you can also create your own DIY Capillary Mat. You simply need a large tray, styrofoam, absorbent fabric, and nails/tacks. Once you have the items, you can begin the setup by filling the tray with water and ensuring that the fabric is saturated. The fabric will then act as a wick to water your plants. They will be able to get the required amount of water.
If you don’t have too many plants, then you could get a water-recycling terrarium. They can be purchased in stores, or you could make your own at home using a clear plastic bag. These bags capture all of the moisture which is created through the evapotranspiration of the potting mix and plant. It drips straight back up so the plant is able to use it. The bag should be big enough to fit over the head of your plant.
In some cases, you may need to use a stick to ensure that the bag is properly held up. These terrariums can keep your little plants happy for a long time. Open up the bag and put it down on a waterproof floor in an area of the house that should stay moderate (cool during the summer and warm during the winter) and out of direct sunlight.
You can use a moist towel to prevent the bag from tearing. Line the bag with the moist towel and arrange well-watered plants on the towel as best as you can. Pull up the sides of the bag so that it covers the plants and blow some air into the bag to puff it out a little. Twist the top of the bag shut when you’re done. Use a rubber band or twist tie to securely seal the bag.
You can also fold in the bag on itself and wrap it using another rubber band to get a more secure closure. The plant-touching some of the plastic is fine; however, you should watch out for any signs of the plant pushing against it. To avoid this, you can simply blow some air in the bag before you close it.
The way these recycling terrariums work is pretty interesting. The plants generate water and release it from their leaves. The excess water drips down into the potting soil so that plants can use it again as they need. You’d be amazed at how effective this trick can be too. Don’t be afraid to try it out for yourself. You can even do it with outdoor plants too. Just make sure that the plants are kept out of direct sunlight. You don’t want to bake the poor plants.
So far, we’ve discussed the best watering methods for plants that are already potted. However, there is another solution for watering, which involves repotting. This next method on our list is one that involves the use of self-watering pots. Self-watering pots work through the inclusion of water reservoirs at the bottom. These pots are specifically designed as a way for plants to remain watered, and they are a fantastic solution for those that lack time to maintain a consistent watering routine.
The key advantage of self-watering pots is that they are highly convenient to use. There is no need to monitor moisture levels of your plant since there is a water indicator that shows you when it is time to start refilling. The reservoirs can be filled through a shaft or another type of opening located in the container. Not all self-watering pots are the same. Some utilize simple methods such as the wick action, whereas more complex self-watering pots take advantage of sophisticated drop systems, which can include a pump. These complex pots tend to be more expensive due to the enhanced features on the show.
But, you shouldn’t worry if you can’t afford self-watering pots. It is also incredibly simple to create a self-watering planter all on your own. You can start off with a basic container that does not have any drainage holes. The bottom will act as your reservoir. The next step involves separating this bottom reservoir area from the plant area. This can be achieved through the insertion of a PVC pipe. It should reach up to the planting material and be used as a watering shaft. The barrier should also have some holes included. The reservoir won’t be visible to you, which means you will need to create a manual water level indicator. Styrofoam can work well for this purpose, and you can put a stick on it to keep track of water levels.
Once you have set this up, you will need to move on to the wicking aspect. The easiest way to make this is by getting small pieces of small rope and other absorbent material. They can be put through the holes of the reservoir, and one end should be touching the bottom. Finally, you can put your plant and potting mix inside. You should ensure that the wicks stay stood up. Newly repotted plants will need to be manually watered for 12 weeks before they can switch to the reservoir. However, if this method seems too stressful for you, then you can always opt for some stylish and innovative self-watering pots available to purchase.
Smart Tech Watering Solutions
However, there are even smarter and more innovative watering solutions available. If you have the money available, then you can consider investing in smart technology watering solutions. They are completely automated which means you can completely relax while on vacation. It is also incredibly easy to create different settings for different plants, and all the water flows effortlessly from one central reservoir.
The personalized settings mean that each individual plant will be sure to get exactly the amount of water you need. You can usually water up to around 20 plants at a time, which is more than enough. The huge plastic reservoir means that you can go on a long-term vacation and not worry about the water running out. This is by far the easiest and most convenient method, but it will cost you a fair amount of money. At the end of the day, it is up to decide whether the convenience is worth the price.
You will now have a much clearer idea as to the options available to you for watering your indoor plants while you are on vacation. The old reliable method of letting a neighbor or friend take care of it is preferred, but we know that it can be hard to find someone trustworthy enough. These other ingenious methods work very well when they are constructed properly. By following the steps in this article, you should be able to easily create your ideal watering system. Just keep in mind that all systems should be thoroughly tested before you set out on your vacation.