DIY Flower Care

How to Take Care of Plants While on Vacation

Living room filled with different plants

Heading out of town for a vacation or taking a quick trip to see friends is exciting! But as you’re packing your bags and making last-minute arrangements, you realize you’ll have to leave your cherished houseplants alone. Will they be okay? Should you cancel your trip?

Just the thought of a neglected plant is enough to make any plant parent cringe, and walking home to a dead plant can ruin your day. The good news is that you can leave and come back to happy, healthy plants. We’re going to cover all you need to know about caring for your plants when you’re away.

Caring for Your Plants While Away

When it comes time to travel, you’ll want to plan for your plants’ care. The first step to developing a care plan is determining how long you’ll be gone.

If you’ll only be away for a few days, you may like to think your plants will miss you and notice your absence. However, they will be okay! As long as you water them before you leave and keep the environment stable, you’ll come back to healthy plants.

If you’re leaving for a week or more, you’ll need to take a few more steps to ensure your plants will be healthy when you return. You may need to ask someone to check in on your plants or move them to another location while you’re away.

Prepping Your Plants for When You’re Gone

Before you leave your plants, you want to make sure they’re in tip-top shape. A healthy plant is more likely to thrive in your absence than an unhealthy plant!

Start by checking your plant over for signs of diseases and pests. Some things to look out for include yellow or brown leaves, soft roots, and insects.

If you notice any diseased leaves, prune them away using a sharp pair of shears. This will allow your plant to send all its energy to healthy tissue.

Insect pests like aphids, spider mites, and thrips can quickly destroy a plant. If you leave your plant with one or two aphids on it, you may come back to a plant covered with hundreds of these sap-sucking pests! Therefore, give your plant a good inspection before you leave.

If you notice any pests, you should kill them before you leave. You can squish any insects with your hands or spray them with insecticidal soap.

Check Your Plant’s Environment

While you’re packing your bags or clearing your desk, take note of your plant’s environment. Will it have enough sun while you’re gone? Is the temperature warm enough?

While you may be tempted to turn down the heat or A/C while you’re away, remember that plants have preferred temperatures as well. Don’t leave your house or office too cold or too warm while you’re gone.

If you’re leaving your office plants over a big office-wide vacation, it’s a good idea to ask about the building’s temperature while you’re away. If maintenance plans on lowering the heat over winter break, it might be a good idea to bring your plant home with you.

Along with checking the temperature, you should also inspect the humidity and light. If your plant is used to a bright window, make sure to leave your blinds or curtains open. And if your plant is used to filtered light, don’t expose it to direct sunshine!

Watering Plants While You’re Away

The number one issue regarding leaving plants alone is that they dry up! As you probably know, water is essential for plants. Even drought-tolerant plants like succulents and cacti can die if they’re left without water for an extended period of time.

Before you leave, make sure to thoroughly water your plants. If your soil is thoroughly saturated, your plants won’t need water for another one to three weeks!

When you’re determining how long your plants can go between waterings, consider these factors.

  • Type of Plant: The beautiful thing about plants is that they’re all different! This also means that they have different water requirements. Houseplants like succulents can survive a month without water while plants like prayer plants prefer weekly watering.
  • Time of Year: As the light fades in the winter, plants slow their growth. This means they also require less water. During the long days of summer, plants require more water.
  • Environment: The sunnier, warmer, and drier a location is, the more water a plant will require. Any plants in your bathroom will likely be in a humid environment, so they can go longer between waterings. However, plants in a dry sunroom will require more frequent waterings.

If you’ll be gone for more than a week, you can try out several options to keep your plants hydrated.

Wicking System

To keep a steady supply of water heading to your plants, all you need is a piece of yarn or fabric. Place one end of the material in a glass or jar filled with clean water. Place the other end a few inches into the plant’s soil.

Now all you need to do is rely on science! The water will slowly make its way up the wick and into your plant’s soil. That means your soil won’t completely dry out until the water vessel is empty.

Water Release Crystals

If you frequently travel, it may be worth looking into products that are specifically designed to keep your plants hydrated. One of these products is water-absorbing crystals.

These crystals are made from a product that absorbs water and then gradually releases it. By mixing them into your plant’s soil, you allow your plant to stay watered over a long period of time. And by altering the ratio of crystals to the soil, you can give the perfect amount of water to each plant.

Watering Spikes

Another product that can help you keep your plants watered while you’re away is a watering spike. These spikes are typically made from terracotta clay. As the soil dries out, the spike will release water into the soil. Terracotta spikes also allow you to adjust the amount of water released. The further you push the spike into the soil, the more water it will release.

A similar product is a watering globe. These also slowly release water, but they are often more decorative than watering spikes. That means you can water in style!

Most of these spikes and globes will keep a plant watered for 7-10 days. So if you’re traveling for more than two weeks, you’ll likely need to look into an alternative watering method.

Water Saucer

While you may hear people suggest that you place your plant’s pot in a tub or saucer of water, we don’t recommend this method. This will keep your plant’s soil saturated, which can lead to fungal issues and root rot. Remember that overwatering is just as dangerous as underwatering!

Hiring Help

If you’ll be gone for more than a week, it’s a good idea to hire someone to care for your plants while you’re away. While your plants won’t complain if someone hangs out with them reading stories and playing Mozart, this isn’t necessary. Having someone come by to water and check in on your plants once a week is generally sufficient.

If you have multiple plants, it’s a good idea to leave some notes for your plant sitter. How often should they water each plant? Are there any specific issues they should watch out for? Do they need to place plants in your bathroom to give them a boost of humidity?

Return to a Healthy Plant

Now that you know how to care for your plants while you travel, you can head out the door without any worries! By taking a few steps and asking for any necessary help, you’ll return to happy, healthy plants.

Plant Care Infographic

If you need some more tips, check out our convenient infographic for different types of indoor plants.

Guide to care for snake plant, cactus, gardenia, succulents, oregano, and air plants

FAQ

How Long Can I Leave My Houseplants Alone?

While it depends on the type of plant, you can generally leave houseplants alone for a week. If you’ll be away for more than a week, you should implement some kind of automatic watering system or have someone come over to water your plants.

What Do You Do With Plants When You Go Away?

When you go away, you want to make sure your plants are cared for. To make this happen, you have three main options.

  1. Have someone come over to check in on and water your plants.
  2. Send your plants to someone else’s home while you’re away.
  3. Set up automated care and watering systems.

How Do I Water Plants While On Vacation for a Month?

If you’ll be gone for a month, you need to make sure your plants are watered. Most plants will suffer if they’re left without water for a month.

If someone will be coming by to collect your mail or check in on your house, have them water your plants. Watering once a week is generally a good schedule.

Another option is to implement a self-watering system. Some options include water spikes, watering absorbing crystals, and a wick system.

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