It’s happened to the best of us: We head out for a relaxing vacation, only to come home to find our plant babies sad and wilted — or worse, dead.
Aside from bringing all those houseplants with you, how do you keep your plants happy while you’re away? The best option is to enlist a friend or family member who is willing to come over. But if that’s not an option, there are still other ways to keep your plants alive while you’re gone for an extended period of time.
Check out these tried-and-true tips to ensure all your plants are alive and well when you return.
Give Them a Shower
Many houseplants will be good to go with a little extra soak beforehand. Gather all of your potted plants together in the sink or shower, and drench them until water is running out of the drainage holes.
Once the soil is thoroughly soaked through, wipe down the plant leaves and return them to their normal locations. You don’t want to leave them too wet, since soggy leaves can invite disease and fungus.
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Fill the Bathtub
Some plants are extra thirsty, and they might be best left in the bathtub. This is also great for plants that love humidity. For potted plants that live outside, a kiddie pool makes a great option.
Simply place all of your houseplants in the bathtub, then fill the tub with a couple of inches of water. This way, your plant babies can wick up as much water as they need while you’re away. Of course, this only works with pots that have drainage holes in the bottom–make sure to pull the saucer away from the pot.
Self-Watering Bulbs and Planters
If leaving all of your plants in the bathtub isn’t an option — say, if you have too many plants to move, or if they’re too heavy to lift — you can also rely on self-watering options.
If you have the time before heading on vacation, swap regular pots for self-watering planters. You can also find self-watering bulbs, which are filled with water and then turned upside down in the pot. Watering this way tends to be uneven, but it is better than nothing. You can DIY the same concept with a wine bottle for larger plants.
You can also help your thirsty houseplants water themselves with common household items that you likely already have on hand.
Fill a jar, bottle, or cup with water and place it next to your plant. Elevate it so that the container is higher than the base of the plant. Cut a length of cotton twine or a 1-inch strip of cotton fabric. This will be your wick. Place one end of the wick down into the bottom of your water container, and then push the other end about 3 inches into the soil of your plant.
Or better yet, put the wick up into the bottom of the pot’s drainage hole, and place the container of water underneath. This will also help keep the water from evaporating.
Move Them Into the Shade
It doesn’t matter if your plant babies are sun-lovers or not: you’ll want to shuffle them into the shade before you head out on vacation. This also applies to indoor plants–make sure to pull your houseplants away from windows.
Direct sunlight will dry your plants out faster than if they were sitting in indirect sunlight. By placing them in a shady spot, you will help them maintain hydration. No more coming home to crispy plants!