How to Take Care of Your Plants While on Vacation
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Going on vacation can pose a problem for plant owners. Having someone come over every day to water your plants is usually too big of a favor to ask. Cacti can probably last 3 weeks to a month without water indoors. Succulents might start to look wrinkled after a couple of weeks. Other plants will need more frequent waterings and should not be ignored for longer than a few days to one week. Not providing water for an extended period of time will make the plant weak at best.
Here are some solutions:
1. Drop them off with a friend
Try and place them in an area where they’ll receive similar light. Give your friends good instructions!
2. Cover with one of the following:
- Dry-cleaner bag – great for bigger plants or a group of plants
- Re-used grocery veggie bag
- Zip-loc bag
How to cover
1. Remove any dead leaves.
2. Water the plant thoroughly.
3. Cover the whole plant and pot.
Make sure the bag is closed and filled up with air.
4. Try to keep the bag from touching the plant too much. You can put a wooden stake taller than the plant to hold it up, teepee style. This will work for at least a week or two.
Terracotta watering spikes are good for plants that need constantly moist soil like tropical plants. Terracotta spikes are coupled with an upside-down empty wine or beer bottle filled with water. The bottle
slowly releases water through the porous terracotta. These work great but only for plants in larger pots (>6”) . A pack of 4 spikes costs about $15 online. If you have one installed in your pot, the plant can go without additional water for a week or more depending on the size of the bottle. Standard beer bottles work about a week for me and wine bottles about two weeks. I have these in some of my tropical plants even when I’m home since it makes watering easier.
Installation in the pot:
Put the spike as deep as you can into the soil without damaging too many roots. To get an even distribution of water to the whole pot, put it as close to the center as possible. Turn a water filled wine/beer bottle upside down quickly, filled with water, into the spike. I do not recommend any of the spikes that have a tiny hole where water drips out of the bottom. These seem to leak out water too quickly.
4. Wick system
A wick system provides moisture to a plant through a string gradually from a container of water. Prepare this a few days before you leave to test that it is working properly.
Materials you’ll need:
- Large container such as a 2L bottle with a top. Large containers without tops can work, but some water will evaporate. Make sure it holds as much water as you’d give it in the amount of time you’re gone.
- A wick which can be a cotton string. Wicks for larger plants can be made from twisted gauze or rag.
1. Fill container with water
2. Make a hole in the cap of the container
3. Wet the entire wick
4. Thread the wick through the hole
5. Make sure the wick reaches to the bottom of the water
6. Place the wick at least half way to the bottom of the pot
7. Wet the soil to start the wicking process
8. Lastly, adjust the height of the container against the
height of the pot to adjust flow of water downwards
towards to the soil. The higher the container the faster
water will flow to the pot.