How to Keep Plants Alive on Vacation

watering plants
Whether it's a friend, neighbor, trick or tool that keeps your plants alive on vacation, make sure they're well taken care of. See pictures of famous gardens.
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You've worked hard to turn that brown thumb green, and you're finally seeing the fruits of your labor. Your sunroom and garden areas are both teeming with lush, green plants, and your kitchen is overflowing with fresh herbs. But that weeklong vacation looms on the horizon, and you know that it could all go down the tubes if you don't have a plan in place. Coming home to a room or garden full of dying plants is huge vacation buzz-kill, so here are some tips to help you keep your plants healthy and happy while you're away having fun.

Indoor Watering Tips

Plants need more water during warm weather months, so this is the main consideration when you're leaving for a little while. Watering bulbs are plastic or glass gadgets that you fill with water and stick into the soil, releasing water as the plant gets thirsty. This is a good solution if you only have a few plants, but can get expensive to feed a houseful. Another option is to put some bricks in the bathtub, set the plants on top, plug the drain and run just enough water to cover the bricks. The plants will drink as needed. You don't want to set the plants directly in the water because it can lead to root rot. Another method to help retain water for your plants is to water them well, and then bag them in clear plastic. Place stakes in the plants that keep the plastic from touching the plant, and the humidity within the bag will help keep everybody nice and moist. If your plant is too large, bag the area around the pot and the base of the plant and hit the road. These methods have you covered for about a week, but if you're going on an extended holiday, you may want to get help from a friend or neighbor. But before you leave, give them all a good soak to get the party started.


Temperature Control

If it's a summer vacation, you need to really be mindful of the heat -- especially if you like to turn your air-conditioning down to save a little money. If your house is in a hot area of the country, take your plants to the coolest room in the house -- this will probably be the garage or the basement. Cooler temperatures will prevent your plants from drying out as quickly, but be careful not to starve them of light. A garage with windows or a daylight basement provides good shelter for outdoor plants that will get dried out in the sunlight. But as with the tips above, this is only a good solution for about a week.

Outdoor Plants

A clever solution for outdoor plants is to stick them in the path of your automated sprinkler system. If you want to make this water go even further, place your potted plants in pie tins to help retain water. And don't forget to ask Mother Nature for a little rain while you're away.



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  • Hodgson, Larry. "Vacation Care for House Plants.", 2010.
  • "House Plants on Vacation - What to Do.", 2010.
  • Ray, Crystal. "Methods for Watering Indoor Plants While on Vacation.", June 12, 2006.
  • "Vacation Gardening Tips." The Early Show, July 7, 2000.
  • "Vacation Watering Tips.", 2010.