The dilemma of watering plants while on vacation is a common concern. Here are a collection of handy tips and tricks for houseplant care while you’re away.
By C.L. Fornari
Jan 31 2017
Watering Plants While on Vacation and Other Houseplant Survival TipsPhoto Credit : Pixabay
Many New England residents escape the cold weather by periodically heading south in the winter. On their list of things to do before they go, the care and survival of houseplants is often at the top of the page. How a plant will fare during your absence will depend on elements like the length of time you’re away and they type of plant you have. Here are a list of houseplant survival tips, including placement, temperature, and ideas for watering plants while on vacation.
If you’re going to be gone for a week or two, most plants will be fine on their own given certain precautions. Move those containers that are in south or western-facing locations back away from the windows so they are out of the direct sun. Plants that are in warmer, sunnier locations dry out more quickly. Low light houseplantsthat are happily positioned in northern or eastern windows should be fine as is provided the house is cool.
Turn thermostats in your home down to around 55 degrees. Most houseplants don’t do well below 50 degrees, and those accustomed to central heating will be shocked if it grows too cold. But plants held at around 55 will use less water and go into a semi-dormancy. Water the plants very well before you go, even allowing just a half-inch of water to remain in the saucers underneath.
The worry of watering plants while on vacation is often the most worrisome dilemma. Cacti and other succulents will be fine for up to three weeks without watering, and other, “known to be cast iron plants” such as snake plants (Sanseveria), African violet (Saintpaulia), and spider plants (Chlorophytum) won’t suffer in this period.
Other plants such as ferns, citrus, and peace lily that appreciate a more consistent level of moisture will be alright up to ten days in cool temperatures provided they are watered well just before you leave. For periods that are slightly longer, these can be grouped in a bright bathroom in a shower or bathtub, saturated with water and left with the door or curtain drawn to hold moisture around the plants.
The “Plant Nanny,” or similar other products that turn a large soda bottle into an automatic water delivery system, are available at garden centers and home stores. These are filled and stuck into just-watered soil right before you leave. They can extend the time by about a week if a 2-liter bottle is used.
Don’t be tempted to sink pots of houseplants into bowls or buckets of water. With a few exceptions, this is likely to rot the roots of most plants. You’re likely to come back to find plants that rotted before they dried up.
Even easy houseplants need a little TLC eventually. If you’re leaving plants for longer than three weeks, it’s probably wise to arrange for a friend or neighbor to come in once every seven days. This person can water your plants well once a week, which will be fine if the house is cool. He or she can check on your home to make sure no pipes have frozen and no other unexpected breakdowns have occurred.
Should your neighbor or house sitter not be experienced with houseplants, be sure to give them an idea of how much water each pot normally needs. It might seem obvious to you what each of your houseplants normally requires, but don’t assume that others have that level of knowledge or experience. It might seem excessive to place a note on each plant that explains “water this with three cups of water every seven days,” but if the plants are older specimens, important to you or sentimental, being overly specific might just save their lives.
Do you have any tips for houseplant care or watering plants while on vacation? Let us know!