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How to Care for House Plants

Vacation Care for House Plants

Plants are living beings and prefer regular care, but frequent or lengthy absences need not stop you from filling your home with greenery. Some house plants, such as cacti and succulents, can literally go for months without water and should be perfect for even frequent travelers. By using watering systems such as wicks, capillary matting, and hydroculture, you can keep most plants happy for two weeks or even more. The plants that need the least care are those grown in sealed terrariums. They can often go for years without water!

house plants flooded with water
Flood house plants with water and place them on
a water-filled tray before leaving on a long trip.

Leaving House Plants at Home

If you suddenly find yourself facing a prolonged absence and your house plants aren’t able to survive on their own, there is no need to panic. There are a few last-minute tricks you can try to keep even difficult house plants living during long periods without regular care.

Start by setting them in a shady spot and removing any flowers and buds to reduce the amount of water they need. Although plants normally don’t like waterlogged soil, they can put up with it occasionally, so set them in a deep tray and literally flood them with water. After this treatment, most plants can go for at least three weeks on their own.

Fragile plants can be covered in plastic when you are away from home for a long time. Since no water is lost to evaporation, plants can go for over a month without care.

Finally, you can simply leave your plants in the care of a horticulturally experienced neighbor. Have your neighbor come in once or twice a week and water as needed.

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Larry Hodgson is a full time garden writer working out of Quebec City in the heart of French Canada where he grows well over 3,000 species and varieties. His book credits include Making the Most of Shade, The Garden Lovers Guide to Canada, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, Houseplants for Dummies, and Ortho’s Complete Guide to Houseplants, as well as other titles in English and French. He’s the winner of the Perennial Plant Association’s 2006 Garden Media Award.

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