Tips of keeping plans alive during your vacation

It's summertime, and that means it's the season for vacations and travel! But while you're enjoying your time away, don't forget about your plants. Without proper care, they could wither and die during your absence.
Sure, you could ask someone to come by and take care of your plants occasionally. However, that may not always be feasible. So, let's explore a self-contained solution that will ensure your plants thrive even in your absence, so you can return home to a flourishing garden after a wonderful vacation!

Special drip irrigation nozzles are also available for purchase. This option is not only budget-friendly but also highly effective.

Preparing plants for your departure

There are two methods to safeguard your plants while you're away.
For trips up to 2 weeks, you can attempt to maintain soil moisture by watering with a reserve.
However, if you'll be away for a longer duration or have concerns about the first method's effectiveness, a remote irrigation system becomes essential.

Regardless of the duration of your vacation, there are some general guidelines to follow before you leave:
  • Move your flower pots from windowsills to the floor;
  • Ensure your plants receive moderate lighting. It's crucial to avoid complete darkness, as it can adversely affect plant’s health;
  • Protect your plants from drafts;
  • Inspect your plants for any signs of diseases or pests;
  • Trim off the largest leaves and flowers in advance. This prevents the plant from expending unnecessary resources on maintaining old leaves and flowers that would have already bloomed during your absence.
All of these actions aim to create a slightly subdued environment for your plants, ensuring that their life processes remain less active than usual. Now, let's take a closer look at both methods of preserving plants in more detail.

The method of retaining moisture

This method can be employed when you are away for a few days, up to a maximum of 2 weeks under ideal conditions. The essence of this method is to minimize moisture evaporation.

Gather all your plants in one location and place them as close together as possible. Water them generously before leaving. You can place the pots in containers with wet pebbles or moss. Another option is to wrap the pots with wet newspaper and cover the top with food-grade foil. These measures aim to create areas of high humidity.

Note: It is still not advisable to immerse pots of plants in water. Constant access to moisture can result in root rot and eventual plant death.

Moisture evaporates from the surface of the soil, so to retain it for a longer period, you can cover plants with clear plastic caps or bottles. The condensation that forms inside will trickle down and moisten the soil. It's important to provide the plants with access to air from below to ensure they can breathe.

You can further enhance the effect by using hydrogel balls. Soak the hydrogel in water overnight and place the swollen balls on top of the soil as a mulch. Not only will the hydrogel reduce evaporation from the pots, but it will also release the moisture it has absorbed.

By following this method, you can help maintain the moisture levels of your plants during your absence, especially for shorter periods of time. However, it's important to note that plants may still experience some moisture deficiency and stress. For particularly valuable specimens, it's recommended to arrange remote watering during your vacation.

Remote irrigation methods

If you're planning to be away for more than two weeks or have concerns about the previous method, it's advisable to consider using standalone irrigation systems. There are various options available to suit different preferences, budgets, and requirements.

Drip irrigation system

This option may be more costly, but consider investing in a battery-operated drip irrigation system. To ensure your plants receive adequate water throughout your absence, calculate the total water requirement for the entire duration.

You can use the Watering Calculator feature to determine the weekly water requirement per plant. Then, multiply this value by the number of weeks you'll be away to determine the total water needed. By calculating for each plant, you'll know the exact amount of water to provide.

With this method, you can confidently go on an extended vacation without worrying about the well-being of your plants.

Homemade drip irrigation

To create a homemade drip irrigation system, you'll need plastic bottles and syringe needles. Place a filled plastic bottle in each container or adjacent to it, ensuring that the bottle is positioned above the soil level. Then, use a syringe needle to pierce the bottom of the bottle. That's it - your drip irrigation system is ready.

Keep in mind that the size of the needle will affect the flow rate of water. We recommend experimenting beforehand to determine the optimal flow rate. This will prevent the water from draining too quickly and potentially overwatering your plants, leading to their demise.

Self-watering flasks

On the market, you can find various designs of self-watering flasks that are suitable for both vacations and everyday use. The key is to install these flasks correctly to prevent all the water from immediately pouring into the pot.

Self-watering flasks are available in different sizes, and you can install multiple flasks if needed. It's important to test this method in advance to ensure your plants will thrive during your vacation.

Alternatively, you can create a similar system using unused plastic bottles. Fill the bottle with water, close the lid, and make a small hole in it. When the bottle is turned upside down, the lid should release moisture. Bury the bottle in the soil, around 1 inch (2 cm) deep, in this position.

Wick watering

Another popular method is wick watering, which involves using absorbent strips of cloth, such as nylon, to deliver water to the plants.

One end of the wick is buried in the soil, while the other end is submerged in a water container. It's important to ensure that the container is placed higher than the pot, allowing the cloth to efficiently supply moisture to the plant's roots. A variation of the mentioned method is watering through the drainage hole. A string is inserted through the holes of the flower pot, and its ends are then dipped into a container of water, as shown in the photo below.

For larger plants, a single strip of cloth may not be sufficient. When setting up the wick watering system, consider using 2-3 wicks for pots that are 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) wide.

All of these methods are highly effective and can work on your behalf while you relax. They provide the necessary care and ensure the well-being of your plants during your absence. With these techniques, you can enjoy your vacation with peace of mind, knowing that your green friends are being taken care of.