Keep Your Plants Alive While You Travel with These Trusty Tricks & Tips

keep plants alive while away

Going on vacation, a quick trip, or leaving for the holidays? Not sure what to do about those plants that you’ve worked so hard to maintain? It’s a common dilemma, so if you answered ‘yes’ to the above (or started sweating when you realized your plant’s routine could be jeopardized while you're on the go), we have 6 DIY tricks and tips that’ll keep your plants healthy from afar. These pointers will also help you relax and rest assured that all is well back home with your plant babies! 

Considerations:

There are a few factors to consider before determining which method will work best for your plants while you’re away. For instance, your current environment—  is it cold and humid, or hot and dry? Usually, people adjust the thermostat when traveling (and we too are all about saving energy!), but do consider how that change may affect your plants. When it’s drier and warmer, plants typically require more water, and when cooler, plants want less moisture. However, do note that drastic temperature changes may not bode well for your plants (so if it’s freezing out and you cut off the thermostat for a month, your indoor foliage will likely croak).

Also, how much water is needed will depend on the kind of plant you have and how long you’ll be gone. Succulents generally can go 3-4 weeks without water, so if you’re traveling less than a month, you may not need to worry about those cactus or aloe plants. Other common houseplants and tropicals would certainly need some planning in advance.

Our most trusted and favorite picks for keeping plants healthy while away:

Methods:

1. Rope + Water Wicking 

    plant water wicking method

    This trick allows you to water your plants steadily while away using just two items: a rope and a container to hold the water. Depending on how long you’re gone and how much water the plant will need, you can choose which vessel is best to store the water (usually a cup for 1-4 days, a vase/pitcher for 5-9 days, a jug/bucket for 10-15 days, a bathtub for leaving and never coming back, etc.).

    Taking thin rope, or natural twine (which can be found at any craft store or ordered online) you’ll cut a piece long enough to reach from the vessel of water to the plant. 

    digging hole for water wicking

    Place one end of the rope in the water vessel, then put the opposite end of the rope in the plant’s soil (about 3 inches deep). Make sure that both ends are secure so that as the rope fills with water it doesn’t slip out of either end. 

    Lastly, make sure the vessel is filled with water and water the plant so that the soil is slightly damp. 

    Note: You can also rig a larger scale system to water multiple plants from one vessel. If you go this route, you’ll need an extra-large vessel of water to hydrate all plants without running out of water. Just line the plants around the vessel, connecting and securing each individual wick to the water vessel. 

    2. Bottle Drip System

      diy indoor plant drip system

      This method creates a drip system using just a bottle. Using either a plastic or glass bottle, you’ll puncture a hole or two in the cap. Next, fill the bottle with water and reseal the cap.

      Make sure the plant isn’t dry (so water it if needed) before inserting the homemade drip system. This helps to extend the amount of time the water in the bottle will last so it isn’t all sucked up by the plant’s soil immediately. 

      hole in bottle top for home irrigation

      Dig a hole in the plant’s soil about 3 inches deep. Covering the cap holes with your finger, flip the bottle upside down while quickly placing the neck of the bottle in the hole at a slight angle.

      Fill in the soil around the bottle and pack it in a bit to ensure the bottle won’t tip over. The water will drip out into the soil slowly over time, providing just enough to maintain vital care for the plant.

      3. Moisture Retention with Rocks  

      pebble tray to increase plant humidity

      This method is best when traveling only for a short period (like weekend getaways or short work trips).

      Rocks and pebbles have been used for centuries as a way to keep humidity levels up for plants. For this method, you’ll fill the plant’s saucer with rocks or pebbles, lining the bottom. Next, you’ll fill the pebbled tray with water (just enough to cover a portion of the pebbles, stopping just short of the very top). Place the plant on top of the layer of pebbles so that the soil isn’t sitting in water but rather absorbing humidity. The presence of rocks and water at the bottom of a tray will help retain constant moisture.

      setup for diy plant moisture

      Note: Make sure that your plant pot has a drainage hole at the bottom to ensure this method works. Also, if you don’t have a drip tray, you can use a plate (just make sure it’s a few inches larger in circumference than the plant’s pot).

      Tips:

      1. Water Right Before Leaving

      A couple of weeks before you leave, try to arrange your plant watering schedule around the date that you’re set to depart. The goal is to sufficiently provide water the morning of (or night before in some cases) your departure. Make sure your plant is normally hydrated and the soil is damp. Remember not to leave excess water that’s leached out onto the bottom saucer. 

      2. But Don’t Overwater

      Sometimes we have the tendency before we leave for a few days to just give our plants extra water to make up those missed waterings. But saturating plants in water doesn’t always work! While it’s important to time your water schedule up until your leave date, making sure to water a bit the day of leaving, you never want to overdo it. Too much water can leave the plant vulnerable to root rot and pests. 

      3. Consider a Plant Sitter

      If you’re gone for more than a month consider getting a friend, neighbor, or family member to come over and check-in on and water your plants. Moreover, if you have finicky plants that require a lot of care and attention, it may be worth it to ask someone trusted to look after your plants. To lessen the burden, suggest that they can take some of the plants into their home instead of coming to your place. Just have them place the plants in a similar location (same amount of sunlight & moisture level). And a small gift or reciprocating that deed when they need it never hurts to extend your appreciation. 
       

      As mentioned earlier, each plant will require different care, so pick which trick or method works best based on each plant. When you return home you can access each plant’s individual state of health and follow up with care for each accordingly. Take into account that every plant is vastly different and will respond differently. Start with how they appear visually then tangibly check the moisture level (by wiggling a finger in the first couple inches of soil). Hopefully, they’re all vibrant and still thriving! Mentally or physically note which at-home methods worked for which plants so that you know for next time you go out of town.

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