It’s the season for vacations and that means decisions about what to do with your plants while you are gone. Outdoor plants are typically not a problem if you have an automatic sprinkler system, but you still should have a neighbor or friend stop by a couple of times a week and just check and make sure everything is doing okay. If it’s 100 degrees out and your sprinklers quit working your lawn could be toast if you are gone longer than a week.
If you don’t have an automatic sprinkler system be sure to water everything VERY thoroughly just before you leave and then have someone stop by and water on the same schedule that you normally water when you are home.
Digital timer for faucet
Hanging baskets are probably the plants that are most at risk. With our super low humidity in the summer, when temperatures exceed 90 degrees they often need watered twice a day. One thing you can do is to run drip irrigation tubes to your baskets and then purchase an inexpensive battery operated time clock that attaches to your faucet. You leave the faucet on and the timer sends water only on a schedule that you set. Most can be programmed to water up to three times a day.
And let’s not forget the indoor plants. Luckily most indoor plants don’t need to be watered as often as outdoor plants. But if you are going to be gone for longer than a week you will probably need to have someone stop by and check them and water if needed. If you don’t have someone who can do that for you here are some things you might try.
1. Water them all thoroughly just before you leave. That might include actually setting them in a sink with several inches of water in it for ten minutes or so to make sure they are fully soaked. (DON’T use soft water!) Then let them drain for a few minutes and replace them in their normal places.Most plants will last for more than a week after a soaking like that.
2. Draw the blinds or move them where they won’t get direct sunlight. They will be able to tolerate the lack of direct sunlight for a week better than tolerating drying completely out while you are gone.
3. Line the bottom of a tray with an inch or two of pebbles. Add water to just below the top of the pebbles. Place potted plants on the pebbles. The evaporating water will raise the humidity around the plants and reduce their water needs.
Photo courtesy DIYNetwork.com
4. Use a wicking system to supply needed water while you are away. This involves placing one end of a cotton cord deep into the soil of your plant. Place the other end deep into a container of water that sits higher than your plant. Gravity will drag the water down to your plants via the cord. At least that’s what they tell me. I haven’t tried it, so you’ll want to test it first while you are at home to make sure it works for you.
5. You can also use the timer and drip system that I mentioned for use outside. You would need to get an adapter for your kitchen or bathroom faucet that would allow you to hook up a hose and the time clock. I have found these battery operated time clocks to be very reliable.
6. This involves some expense, but if you leave your air conditioning running while you are gone your houseplants will stay cooler and require less water while you are gone.
So go on. Enjoy your vacation knowing that your plants at home are taken care of.