Keeping Your Plants Happy While on Holiday
We spend so much time painstakingly tending to our plants every day. But what happens to our plants when we go on holiday? If the thought of leaving your plants alone fills you with dread, we’ve compiled some top tips for keeping your plants alive and thriving in your absence!
If you’ll only be away for a week or so, giving your plants a generous drink before you leave should see them through. Dunk them in a bucket, sink, or bath for around 30 minutes, giving the roots plenty of time to absorb water. Allow the pot to drain thoroughly afterwards.
Maintain humidity levels for tropical plants by placing them on pebble trays filled with water. You can also group tropical plants close together to create a moisture-rich microclimate that will endure for several days (Murray, 2019).
Turn off any heating or cooling devices like room heaters or ACs while you're away as they can dry your plants out really quickly. Move plants away from bright windowsills as the sun can dry the soil too. You could also hang translucent curtains in north-facing (Southern hemisphere) or south-facing (Northern hemisphere) windows to diffuse the sunlight (Sansone, 2020).
For your thirstiest plants, consider setting up a self-watering system. Hydro-spikes are cheap, effective, and readily available. Simply fill the globe with water and poke the pointy end into the soil for a slow-release water supply (Lawson, 2022). Or make a DIY irrigation system using a length of porous material and a jar of water. Submerge one end in the water and push the other end into the soil. This creates a capillary, allowing your plant to soak up water while you’re away (Marshall, 2021).
Just like with your indoor plants, give your outdoor plants a thorough soaking just before you leave. Completely saturate the soil, allow it to soak in for a few minutes and then repeat (Domoney, 2018). To help retain moisture levels in beds and borders, spread a layer of mulch over the soil after watering (Murray, 2019).
Container-grown plants can be moved to a more sheltered position away from direct sunlight. This will stop their soil from drying out too quickly and prevent their foliage becoming heat stressed while you’re away (Domoney, 2018).
For plants that can’t be moved, consider setting up a canopy. Mesh fabric or netting will allow rain and a little sunlight to penetrate whilst preventing the sun's hottest rays from evaporating all the moisture (Fowler, 2021).
If your budget allows, install an automatic irrigation system to supply regular water in your absence. Simply set the timer to your desired watering schedule and go (Domoney, 2018)!
Hold off on the fertiliser for a few weeks before you leave. You want your plants to grow as slowly as possible while you aren’t around to tend them (Romano, 2019).
Arid plants and succulents can go long periods without water, so don’t be tempted to over-water these plants before you leave (Sansone, 2020). Similarly, you probably won’t need to make any adjustments if you’re going away during winter since your plants will be dormant anyway!
Finally, if you’re really concerned about your plants, or you’ll be away for several weeks, ask a trusted friend to pop in and tend to your plants. Be sure to leave detailed instructions if they’re not particularly green-fingered, and of course, bring them back a generous gift from your holiday to say thank you!