Vacation guide: How to keep your plants alive when you’re not home
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The last thing you want when you’re on vacation is to spend the whole time worrying about how your plants are doing and if they’re getting on okay without you. Vacations are a time when you’re supposed to be able to relax and forget about your worries, so we want to help by giving you some tips about how best to ensure that your plants are well-prepared for a little time without having their plant parents around!
First things first, if you’re only going away for a few days then you don’t need to worry - most plants will do just fine if left to their own devices for a little while. However, if you plan to go away for a week or more then there are some steps you can take.
To water or not to water?
Whether or not you should water your plants before you go away depends a lot on the types of plants you have. It is often said that you should water all of your plants just before you leave, and while this rule can work really well for many types of plants, it may be totally unnecessary for more drought-resistant plants such as succulents and cacti. For instance, some plants only need to be watered once every three weeks or so, and watering them too frequently can be much more damaging than letting them go a few days without water. We recommend that you take a look at your upcoming tasks tab in Planta to check if you have watering tasks for your drought-resistant plants scheduled during the time you’ll be away. Otherwise, you should be safe just leaving them be.
For your more water-loving plants, though, it can definitely be a good idea to give them a deep and thorough watering before your departure so that their soil can stay as moist as possible during the time that you’re away. One of the quickest and easiest ways to do this is to put your plants in the shower and give them a good soaking. Just make sure to use a gentle setting as harsh blasts of water can be damaging for delicate branches and foliage. Also make sure to shake or wipe off any excess water that collects on your plant’s leaves - too much water buildup on the surface can encourage mold growth. It’s okay to leave a light mist on the leaf surface (many plants may appreciate the boost in humidity this offers!), but you don’t want to leave them dripping with pools of water collecting anywhere. On this note, also make sure that your plant pots have drainage holes to prevent the soil from becoming too wet, as this can lead to root rot.
Lighting the Way
Once you’re done showering your plants, before you put them back in their normal spots, take a moment to consider what lighting conditions they typically live in. Even if your plants tend to prefer full sun, exposure to heat and light can drastically increase their watering need. While you’re on vacation, you essentially want the watering requirements of your plants to be as low as possible so that they won’t miss it too much! Therefore, placing your plants temporarily in a shadier spot than usual can help to minimize their need for a top-up.
Hold the Fertilizer
Another way to help lessen your plant’s watering need while you’re away is to slow its overall growth temporarily. One method to do this is to cut back on fertilizing your plant in the weeks leading up to your vacation. For some plants, doing this in conjunction with placing them in a shadier spot can even encourage a sort of semi-dormancy. Don’t worry though, once you’re back and you start taking care of your plants as normal again they’ll bounce back to their normal growth rate pretty quickly.
Vacation Watering Solutions
Did you know it's actually possible to water your plants without physically being there with them? (At least sort of!) There are specifically-designed solutions that can gradually release water over a period of time so that your plant will get water as and when it needs it without the risk of being overwatered. Some ideas you can try include:
Placing your thirsty plants in the bathtub
Using the string wicking method
Utilizing self-watering bottles or watering globes