Going away during the holidays and leaving your plants or garden unattended could be a significant source of stress the longer you are away. To help reduce that and ensure we have a great holiday, we can do various things to ensure our plants are well taken care of.
Here are some of the best tried-and-true tips from the gardening experts:
Direct sunlight will dry out your plants, especially during the warmer seasons. When our little green friends are away from the immediate effects of the sun, they won’t photosynthesise as quickly, resulting in less water and moisture upkeep overall. That’s why you should move anything by the window to a shadier part of the room.
Grouping them together is also a good idea, for they will form their own microclimate and help each other maintain the air moist. Make sure they also get plenty of water before leaving (but not too much to avoid root rot).
You might notice that plants tend to need less water for the winter season. The main concerns during that period are temperature fluctuations and lack of humidity. Make sure you use constant temperature (plants love 60 – 75°F (15 – 24°C)).
To help keep the air moist, either use a humidifier or simply have them placed in your bath or sink, where they should be good for up to a week. You could even soak some towels in water and place your plants on top for an extra measure, which will give you a few additional days.
To protect your outdoor plants from direct sunlight, you could invest in a shade net. It will offer some cooling effect and help protect them (and the soil) from the scorching summer heat. Other benefits include saving up of water, protection from strong wind, rain, UV rays, as well as protection from birds and insects.
After you water the plants, soak a rag or an old newspaper and place them on top of the soil around the plant. You want to be damp but not swim in the water and try to cover as much of the surface as possible.
You could even use old newspapers to help fight against weeds in your outdoor garden. Put layers around the plants overlapping as you go, cover with mulch, and you’ll have a strong defence against weeds. The good news is that newspaper is biodegradable, and it’s completely safe for plants, earthworms, bugs or people.
Plants are most comfortable in daytime temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 degrees during night time.
Never place them near radiators (or other sources of heat, including electronic devices) or right next to the windows during winter to avoid cold exposure. Any drafty areas should be avoided as well. To help the air around them stay as moist as possible, you should group them together, for leaves naturally release water through transpiring.
An old trick is to have them placed on or near a water tray. To prevent root rot, never put them directly in water. Instead, you want to use pebbles or small stones in the tray and place them above the waterline.
Forget about fertilising your plants until after you’ve returned. You want to avoid using a fertiliser a couple of weeks before your departure, so you slow their growth and thus conserve energy and water.
Most plants don’t need fertilising during the winter, so make sure not to feed them during that time, as that will surely disrupt their natural cycle. It’s best to leave that for early spring as soon as you notice the first signs of growth.
If you plan to spend your days travelling for more than a week, then hydrospikes are a great solution to help make that possible. You could fill an empty wine or plastic bottle with water, insert them into the soil, and use the force of gravity to water your plants slowly and evenly. You want to soak the bottle in water for at least 15 minutes before filling it up and inserting it into the soil. A bottle could last for about 1-3 weeks, depending on the season and the size of the plant.
The only thing you want to make sure of is regularly checking them for algae.
Of course, it would be best if you had a friend or a family member visit to water and check up on your plants, but that’s not always possible.
If the methods mentioned above won’t work for you, here are some other self-watering ways that could happen in their stead:
You’ll need a cotton rope and vase or bucket for this method. Cotton is the most absorbent material, and as such, it’s best for this.
Ensure it has extra slack on the end inside the bucket or vase, and make sure it reaches at least several inches under the soil. Use a pen or pencil to stuff it in and make sure it stays. To start the process, simply water the plants, and they will do the rest themselves.
This is one of the simplest methods, best for cacti and other succulents but isn’t suitable for plants requiring special attention. However, if you plan on being away for just a couple of days, it could work out really well for you. Use a drainage pot and a saucer, fill up with enough water, and you are good to go.
This long-lasting method is most suitable for houseplants and non-succulent plants and can work for up to six months. Don’t leave your plants under direct sunlight and never use it with succulents, for they might overheat and shrivel.
You’ll need four wooden stakes and a clear plastic bag. Insert the stakes in the four corners of the pot and water the plant like you usually do. After that, wrap the plastic bag around the four stakes to create the greenhouse effect. Just make sure any of the leaves do not touch the bag.
If your plants look a bit wilted after returning from your holiday, it’s important not to worry and do anything rash. You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly they recover after watering.
Our only advice is not to go overboard and try to overcompensate by giving them too much too soon. In no time, your plants will have regained their vitality, and you’ll be much happier knowing they’ll be okay during the next time you plan some holiday travelling.
You are now fully prepared to leave your plants or your outdoor garden and go enjoy your holidays. If you are a frequent traveller, you might reconsider your plant choices and stay away from certain high-maintenance plants, as those might be particularly hard to maintain and take care of. For those born to travel, we’ll suggest choosing low-maintenance options such as ZZ’s, sansevierias, pothos and Chinese evergreens, as well as ponytail palm and yucca.