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How to Water Your Houseplants When You’re Away

aglaonema houseplants ted lare design & build

If you’re getting excited to go on vacation, but a little worried about how your plants will survive your absence, don’t worry. You can set your houseplants up for a successful holiday with just a little bit of planning. For best results, we suggest starting the prep process a few days before you head out of Des Moines—don’t leave it to the last minute!

watering houseplants ted lare design & build

Plan a Plant Spa Day

If your plants are well-watered, clean, and thriving before you leave, they’ll be much more likely to manage for 10-12 days on their own. So pick a day, 2-3 days before you leave, to spend some time getting your plants ready for your vacation. Here’s what you need to do a few days before you head out:

  • Thoroughly water all your plants with a deep soak. Once the water has thoroughly soaked into all the soil, let them sit and drain a bit.
  • Clean up any dead or brown leaves and inspect for signs of pests. If plants have pests, treat and quarantine them away from the rest of your plants before you leave on your trip. 
  • Plants that are clustered together create their own little microclimate, which retains humidity. So, pull your plants together in groups. If you have a bright bathroom, fill the bathtub or shower with your plants. Ideally, they should be clustered away from windows, yes, even ones that like direct sun, and away from drafts like doorways or air circulation vents. The less direct sun they get, the slower they’ll use up water. 
  • Raise the humidity. You can do this with pebble trays, or, if you have tall plants, try placing some tall open containers, like pitchers, with water in them amongst your plants to help with humidity.
  • Set the temperature in your home to a more moderate temperature. They will use up water more slowly if they aren’t experiencing extreme temperature fluctuations. Temperatures between 55º and 65º will slow the process of transpiration slightly. 
houseplant water globe ted lare design & build

Watering Your Houseplants While You’re Gone

For most houseplants, a good watering, higher humidity, and clustering them together before your vacation will be enough to get them through about ten days of your absence. However, if you’re going away longer than 10-12 days, or you have houseplants that need consistently moist soil, you’ll need to set up an irrigation system of some sort. (That is, unless you can bribe a friend or neighbor to water them for you!)

There are several excellent drip irrigation systems out there that you can buy for houseplants, but you don’t have to spring for anything too fancy. You can also find plenty of DIY tutorials online for building your own drip irrigation systems. However, that’s also a pretty significant project to add to your list of pre-trip to-dos! 

Instead, we suggest opting for one of the less-complex systems to water your moisture-loving plants while you’re gone:

  • Create a capillary watering system. This consists of a long chunk of either heavy cotton cord, fabric, or webbing and a bucket of water. First, push the cord down into the soil of your pot, quite deep, so it gets to the roots. Then you drape the other end into your container of water. The fabric wicks the water out of the bucket and down to your plant’s roots. 
  • Use watering globes or watering spikes. Unless you have pretty large watering globes, they’re not going to buy you a ton of extra time. But watering spikes can help quite a bit since they hold large bottles on top of them, like a 2-liter soda bottle. You can also create DIY watering spikes by poking several tiny holes into the lid of a soda bottle, filling it with water, and then bury the neck in the soil of your planter so that the water seeps out slowly.
  • Try self-watering pots. Self-watering pots are designed similar to a capillary system, but the wicking fabric and water reservoir are contained inside the pot. They’re also great for plants in hard-to-reach places.
houseplants on shelf ted lare design & build

Just because you’ve acquired a large houseplant jungle doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice their wellbeing for a well-deserved vacation! On the contrary, if you follow these tips, your plants will hardly miss you while you’re away.

Come visit us in Des Moines anytime for answers to all your watering questions!


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