Knowing how to water plants while on vacation is an increasingly important question, but no more so than during the summer months. This season sees the highest volume of travel, both domestic and international – but wherever you go, you’ll be staying away from your green.
Whether you want to preserve your gardening ideas or are more of a houseplant lover, the problem of how to keep them healthy remains the same. However, there are some solutions to ensure your buds thrive on the go, and expert advice on when to water plants.
Watering plants on vacation – 5 tips that work indoors and outdoors
Going away doesn’t mean you have to neglect your best houseplants or garden. This is how you water plants on vacation, according to the experts.
1. Use ceramic pouring sticks
Brody Hall, a certified gardener and co-founder of The indoor kindergarten (opens in new tab), explains that there are two types of ceramic watering wands that you can use to water your plants while on vacation.
“The first type allows wine bottles filled with water to be inserted directly into the stakes. Little by little, the water from the wine bottle seeps through the ceramic rod and waters the plant,” he says.
Alternatively, the second method has a plastic tube that is inserted into the top of the stake. “The hose is inserted into a container of water and slowly siphons water out of the container, seeping through the ceramic material and into the plant’s growing medium,” says the gardener.
He recommends picking up these plant watering wands with plastic tubing (opens in new tab) and these ceramic wands with no plastic tubing (opens in new tab) from Amazon, which are particularly effective with this method.
2. Find a new use for your liquor bottles
When cleaning up the leftovers from the next garden party, it might be worth saving a few bottles. Whether you choose schnapps, beer or wine, your next vacation will find a new use for your bottles – but how does this unconventional method work?
“You can use these bottles to water houseplants by filling the bottle with water and then placing it in the plant’s soil,” explains Brody. Fill the bottle with water, dig a hole wide enough for the neck of the bottle with your finger, and stick it in the ground, neck down. The water is slowly released into the soil and helps keep the plant hydrated.’
While this method is a quick and effective fix, the expert warns that it’s better suited for shorter vacations. “The bottles release water faster than the ceramic wands. It is therefore less suitable for holidays of more than a week,” he explains.
3. Use a plastic cover
For both indoor and outdoor potted plants, Brody recommends using a plastic cover that will keep humidity levels high. This will help insulate the plants so they don’t lose moisture as quickly.
“Rather than covering the entire plant and risking encouraging mold and mildew infection, it’s best to lay moistened mulch around the base of the plant and then cover it with a dark-colored plastic bag,” he says.
Likewise, if you want to protect your container gardening ideas, the expert suggests that a large garbage bag works well too. He recommends tucking the bag between the potting soil and the sides of the pot by the edges for best results.
4. Experiment with mulching
If you’re wondering how to water your plants while on vacation, then mulching might be an easy solution.
“Mulch helps retain moisture and limits evaporation. For houseplants, mulching with peat moss, coco coir, or even decorative rocks or pebbles works well,” says the gardener.
Meanwhile, for outdoor potted plants or garden bed ideas, it’s best to opt for something that can withstand harsher conditions like strong winds and sun. “The best options are pea straw, cane, or bark mulch,” he adds.
5. Invest in a self-watering system
If you plan to travel for a long period of time or are a frequent flyer, it may be better to invest in a self-watering system.
The system, which involves slowly releasing water into the soil over a period of time, is among the best ways to water your plants outdoors while you’re away – expert Rodger St. Hilaire of Garden Boost (opens in new tab) suggests.
“If you don’t want to buy a self-watering system, you can use a water timer that attaches to your hose. This turns the water on and off automatically, so you don’t have to worry about it.’