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Many gardeners and plant lovers lead very hectic lives.
Many may also constantly be on the go and travel quite a lot, so if they decide to embark on a vacation, they need to find ways to care for their plants. The situation is even harder for those who live alone and have no one to take care of the plants in their absence.
If you are one of them, this article will come in handy.
Vacation Plant Watering Guide
While you can rely on your family members or neighbors to lend a helping hand and water the plants occasionally, if they do it wrongly, they might do more harm than good. You know your plants best, after all.
What you can do is group your plants according to their watering needs and provide your plant-sitter with relevant instructions in the written form, maybe even a sticky note, if you like, and assign a name and watering needs to each group.
However, if there is no one to care for your plants, here is what you can do before leaving to make sure your plants do not give you a cold welcome, looking withered, flowerless and leafless.
1. Keep the indoor temperature cool
Make sure to check your thermostat before you leave. The temperature should not fall below 55 degrees F, but if it is too hot, the plants will need more water.
In case it is wintertime, the temperature should be moderate so that your plants do not develop leaf mold.
You can also increase airflow by leaving a ceiling fan on.
2. Move the plants away from direct sunlight
Move the plant pots to a shady spot because your plants will retain more water in that way. Avoid drafty spots and heat vents, too.
Outdoor plants can also be grouped together in the shade, which will reduce transpiration and evaporation, so plants can go on longer without their drinks.
3. Water thoroughly before you leave
Make sure to let the soil dry and then give the plants a thorough soaking until the water drains out through the drainage holes.
You are lucky if you have succulents and cacti for houseplants since they need less care than, let’s say, any flowering plant.
4. Give your plants a proper haircut
Trimming your plants and removing dead leaves may help them retain some water, and you can also add mulch, wood chips and rocks for the same reason.
But do not make mulching turn into your habit and a long-term solution, since it encourages pests.
5. Increase humidity
One way to increase humidity is to leave small, moisture-loving plants in a tub or a sink, sailing on a few inches of water. Apart from that, you can also fill a few pots with water and leave them in a sunny spot to evaporate into the air, thus increasing humidity.
6. Skip fertilizer
Postpone fertilizing for when you return, as you want your plants to grow as slowly as possible.
Having done those steps, now you need to think about how you can provide your plants with enough water while you are away. Here is what you can do so that your plants do not die of thirst.
1. A wick system
Use a string made of cotton or T-shirt yarn (anything able to hold water) and place one end in the water bucket and wrap the other end around the stem of the plant or stick it down into the soil. Place the bucket above the base of the plant so that water can travel down the string more easily.
What happens is that the string will soak up the water and feed the plant like a vegetative umbilical cord.
You can also place more strings in one bucket of water and feed more plants.
2. Water and wine bottle hack
Poke a few holes in the screw top of the wine bottle with a screwdriver, fill it with water and place it upside down in the soil of the plant.
This can be done with a water bottle, too, for plants that need less water, just make sure it is sturdy and does not fall.
You can also put the bottle straight into the soil, with only the neck of the bottle exposed.
However, do not put the bottle in dry soil as it will absorb all the water immediately.
Fill the bath, the sink or any bucket with water and leave your moisture-loving plants in.
Other plants that are vulnerable to overwatering should be placed on top of gravel or bricks rather than water only.
Smaller plants can be placed on the pebbles topped off with water on a tray or a saucer.
*In case you experience problems with mosquitoes because of the stale water, simply mix a tablespoon of 1% hydrogen peroxide, a few drops of dishwasher liquid and one cup of water and spray the water and the surface the plants are in.
4. Temporary greenhouse
Place a well-watered plant in a plastic bag, fill it with air and seal. Make sure that the bag does not touch the plant.
5. Water-storing crystals
Fill water-storing crystals with water and let them grow in size. Place them over the surface of the plants.
6. Ready-made products from the store
The last and the most expensive option is to buy ready-made self-watering products, like automatic sprinkler timers, install a drip irrigation system, buy a self-watering probe but be careful because it can clog and your money goes down the drain.
Regardless of the type of self-watering system that you choose, make sure to test it a week before you embark on your vacation.
By following these easy steps you can travel safely, knowing that your plants have been taken care of.