How to keep plants alive when you’re on vacation? That is a question that I have asked myself time and time and time again. (Especially since my plants kept dying a quick and painful death while I was traveling.)
You see, I’ve been a travel writer for nearly two decades. I travel around the world for a week or two at a time. I’m also a passionate gardener. My garden is my therapy, my exercise – and my joy. And it also costs a pretty penny.
So you can see why I’ve been asking myself how to keep plants alive while traveling.
I also know how incredibly important plants are for your health and your happiness.
It’s not until now that I’ve really figured out the best solution of how to keep plants alive.
As a travel writer, it was usually only me traveling. So my husband stayed home at his job. You’d think that having someone at home would deter plants from dying. After all, they can be watered and looked after while you’re gone.
Nope. Surprisingly not.
Because time after time, I’d come home to potted plants that were crisp like fried chicken. Or plants that had been watered so much that they were rotting in the ground.
Having someone at home – unless they really GET IT – does not help your plants stay alive.
When my husband and I would travel together, I’d ask my nice neighbors across the street to take care of the plants. We would take care of her dog when she traveled, and she would take care of my plants.
It’s an arrangement that worked. But then you always feel indebted, right? And it’s a lot of hassle to coordinate schedules and time frames (especially if she was going out of town, too).
Living in Florida with the heat, I only had a two month window of time where I could potentially leave my plants alone in nature and expect things to be alright when I came back. After that, the heat and humidity were known killers to my plants (both inside and outside).
Now that I know of all of these great ways of how to keep plants alive both indoors and outdoors while on vacation, I can rest a little easier.
After all, buying a few accessories to use over and over again when you travel is way more cost effective than replacing all of those plants every time you leave. Trust me, I know.
Here’s a helpful hint: If you’re trying to keep your plants watered inside, sometimes it’s easier to group them all together. If your bathroom has natural light that’s not too harsh and works well with the type of plants you have, it’s a smart idea to put the plants in the bathtub, shower or sinks. That way, if a watering system should leak or malfunction, there won’t be a wet mess in your home that can damage your house. Or consider the kitchen sink or laundry room sink, too.
Plant Watering Spikes or Globes
These terra cotta devices will water your plants for up to two weeks. So that’s one nice long vacation with no worries! Eco-friendly and using an automatic watering technology, these chemical-free devices only deliver water to your plants.
Have you seen those brightly colored glass orbs that can be stuck in the soil of a houseplant? They work the same way.
Okay, sometimes you got to do what you got to do. I’m not a big fan of adding anything synthetic to soil or dirt for plants, but I have used these water absorbing crystals. They were almost necessary in the incessant heat of Florida where you might have to water your plants twice a day. I have no time for that!
There are non-toxic brands, too, such as Root Naturally but I’ve never used it so I can’t speak to how well it works. Let me know in the comments if you have!
For hanging baskets and potted plants, you can use absorbent pads inside the pot to hold water and release it over time.
I’ve always heard that our town uses baby diapers in their massive hanging baskets to cut down on the watering. Seems like it would be brilliant to use.
Travel a lot? Or just a lazy gardener? Then invest in a self-watering planter. Trust me, their worth it. I’ve had one or two (they are definitely more expensive than the cheap ones in a big box store) but they DO work!
Drip Irrigation / Irrigation
So far, we’ve mostly talked about indoor houseplants or plants in a container. What happens to your garden growing in the ground, though, when you are on vacation?
A scheduled irrigation system is the absolute best way to make sure that your plants will be watered when you’re gone. If you have a sprinkler system, that will work.
For those without a sprinkler system installed, adding a drip irrigation system to your outdoor garden and leaving it on a timer will be great.
A couple words of wisdom, though.
First, make sure that your rain gauge is working properly. If you are gone and your garden gets 3 inches of water from a rain storm, you definitely don’t want your irrigation system to run, too. You’ll most likely come back to rotten cucumbers and wilting plants.
When we went on our honeymoon for three weeks, we left the sprinkler system on. We usually turned the system on and off manually depending on the rain that week (since the rain gauge was broken and it was a rental home so they weren’t going to fix it).
Apparently, the power went off when we were in Italy, so the system somehow reset itself to run EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! When we came back we definitely noticed that the shrubs were super green and tall. And we also had one major water bill that month.
So use scheduled irrigation systems with caution and make sure they’re working properly before you leave (schedule them for a week before you leave to make sure that they are working).
Hire a House Sitter
Just like a pet sitter, there are people that will come to your home to take care of your plants. It’s a big cost, but if you’ve got a lot of specialty plants, then it might be worth it for you.
Or you can always just ask your neighbor…………