Are you planning a vacation but you’re worried about leaving your plants unattended? It can indeed be challenging to leave them on their own, but with a little preparation, you can keep them thriving even while you’re gone enjoying your well-deserved holiday.
Unfortunately, I lost several plants over the years while I was away on vacation, so I’m well too familiar with this struggle.
That’s why, as I prepared for my weeks-long trip to Singapore and Bali, I was determined to find a way to keep my plants alive with minimal effort from the friends who were already coming to check on the cats.
Therefore, in this blog post, I will share some effective solutions (that worked for me) on how to water your plants when away on vacation, so you can enjoy your time off without worrying about them.
Not only that, but most of these automatic watering solutions for potted plants are great to keep all year long.
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Set in place a DIY wick watering system
These can work great when you’re in a pinch and most of the time you can get away with using stuff you might already have inside the house.
For a DIY wick watering system, you need a container (or several), some cotton string (you can use shoelaces in need), and a few screw nuts or even rocks to make sure the ends of the strings stay in the water.
Optionally you can add some plastic wrapping over the container to stop the water from evaporating too fast.
Start by soaking the string in water then bury one of its ends in the pot that needs to be watered (for larger pots you should add more than one string). Then tie a screw nut to the other end (or place a rock over it) and put it in the water container. That’s basically it!
I recommend you experiment a bit with this solution before actually going on holiday since different plants have different watering needs. Also, it’s usually best to place the water container higher than the pots.
Use self-watering pots
While I really love plants, I’m aware I’m not the most diligent person when it comes to their watering needs. On top of that, I’m also a frequent traveler. That’s why I started using self-watering pots for all my plants from the start.
There are different kinds to choose from: some pots have additional wicks, others include a water level indicator, but all of them have a built-in reservoir from which the plant can take its water as needed.
I do have to say that this solution works best when the pot is on the bigger side. This is because a bigger container will hold more soil, but also more water as its reservoir will also be bigger.
I have two clematis and a honeysuckle on my balcony in really big self-watering containers and if I water them thoroughly and refill their reservoirs, they’re good for weeks, even during the summer months.
However, in the case of smaller pots, I usually need to supplement with another auto-watering solution if I’m away from home for a longer period of time.
Add watering spikes to your pots
There are two types of watering spikes: some have a built-in reservoir of different shapes (most are globes, hence why they’re also called aqua globes) that you fill with water before sticking the spike into the pot and other allows you to connect a water bottle to it.
While the globes are more aesthetically pleasing (most are very colorful, but I find the clear ones equally pretty), for a 2-week holiday you’ll probably want to use the second type since you can connect the spike to a large water bottle that will keep your plants hydrated for longer.
I would also recommend using the spikes that have the option to control the amount of water that it’s released.
Get the Blumat plant watering stakes
The Blumat plant watering stakes operate on the same principle as a DIY watering wick system. These stakes feature a conical ceramic end that can be filled with water and buried in the soil, along with a tube that is placed in a container filled with water. It is important to pre-soak the ceramic component before installation to ensure proper functioning.
Blumat stakes are available in different sizes: Regular Classic and Classic XL, and multiple stakes can be used to meet the watering needs of larger plants. I personally used them on my beloved Hydrangeas and found them to be effective in keeping them healthy and hydrated during the summer months.
I will mention that I saw there are some products that resemble the Blumat ones very much but have plastic stakes instead. However, I did not buy them as their reviews weren’t very good, not to mention that the porous ceramic cone is an important component of this type of watering system.
Install an automatic watering (dripping) system
The automatic dripping systems come in several forms, but for watering your plants (particularly the ones on your balcony or terrace) when you’re away on vacation, you’ll want to look for one that either has a battery or is solar-powered and comes a pump.
This will eliminate the need for a power socket or a faucet in the immediate vicinity of your pots. Besides, I personally don’t feel comfortable leaving a faucet on, unsupervised.
In fact, after I heard of a neighbor who had his water pipe burst from too much pressure and flooded his brand-new home, I now turn the water off in the whole apartment when I leave for a longer period of time (better safe than sorry!).
Installing these automatic watering systems is relatively easy. They include small hoses that may require cutting to your desired length, dripping ends for adding to your pots, and a pump. Additionally, a large container filled with water is needed to serve as a reservoir.
Most pumps allow you to set how frequently to water your plants (in days) and for how long (in seconds), but some might offer some additional settings as well.
I have 3 battery-operated watering systems for my balcony (that I use even when I’m home because I have a lot of pots) and on their how-to-use instructions, it was written that a charge should last for about 6 months.
Honestly, I did not conduct a formal test, but it does appear that the battery life lasts for several months. I only charged them twice in nine months, both times before embarking on a trip.
And this was done more as a precautionary measure to ensure that the batteries did not deplete while I was away.
If you opt for a battery-operated pump like I did, my suggestion is to charge them using a power bank. This eliminates the need to detach the small hoses from the pump to bring it closer to a power socket.
In conclusion, there are several effective methods for watering plants while away on vacation for one to two weeks, from simple DIY solutions to more advanced automatic watering systems.
And by planning ahead and taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure that your plants remain healthy and hydrated even when you are not home.