​Plant Lady 101: How To Help Your Plants Stay Happy When You’re Away From Home


You’re going on a two-week trip. You’ve made your lists, you’re running last-minute errands, and you’ve made arrangements for pets and mail. It’s easy to forget about your green household companions, your plants. But if if you do, you’ll come home to find them unhappy or worse. Here are some ways to care for the verdant members of your household when you’re out of town.

The DIY Way to Water

The Terrarium Method

Before you leave for your trip, remove all dead leaves from each plant. Give each plant a thorough soaking, making sure to empty any saucers of water so that the plants don’t get water-logged. Then gather your plants into an area that doesn’t receive direct sunlight. A bathtub is ideal (set the plants on pebbles), but you could also use trays lined with pebbles or a plastic tarp covered with wet newspaper.

Next, cover the plants with clear plastic to make a makeshift greenhouse. Use stakes to keep the plastic off of the plants. The humidity should keep the plants happy for up to two weeks.

An alternative method is to create a terrarium for each plant by setting each one in a large, clear plastic bag. Cut slits for venting and use a twist tie or knot to close the top.

Read more here.

The “BIY” (Buy it Yourself) Way

Water Globes

Water globes are pretty additions to your plants that water them for a few days to a couple weeks, depending on ambient conditions and your plant’s water needs. Some people use these whether on vacation or not.

You can also hack your own water globes by inverting a plastic water bottle into your plant’s soil. Adding terra cotta tips makes this even easier and more effective.

Self-Watering Systems

An alternative to watering through globes or their DIY counterparts is to water your plants with a self-watering system that draws from a water source. Again, these can be purchased or made, but the basic idea is that a wicking material or tube connects the plant’s soil to a container of water so the plant can draw water as needed. There are also systems that can water multiple plants at once.

Don’t Worry About Watering and Flip the Script

Keep Soil Moist

The underlying principle of these watering systems is preventing the soil from getting too dry. Water can be added to the soil, as in the above methods, or the soil can be augmented in order to hold moisture. Moisture crystals can be added to plants’ soil to help them during times in which they could get dry.

Some people add the moisture-absorbing part of a diaper to the plant’s soil instead. Place it to the side of the pot, making sure not to block any drainage holes.

Re-potting plants also helps keep soil moist; because there is more fresh soil, it won’t dry out as fast.

Another trick is to put damp newspaper on top of the soil, as mentioned here.

When All Else Fails…

Have Someone Else Do It

If you have a pet-sitter who will come to your house, you might ask them to also water your plants every few days. Leave clear instructions and also consider gathering the plants in a bathtub or other location that receives diffused light in order to make it easier to water them all at once. A friendly neighbor may also be willing to help out, or you could hire someone to come, if happy plants are a top priority.

How do you take care of your plants while you’re out of town?

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