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Top Tips on How to Keep Plants Alive During Vacation

Posted on August 22 2021

Top Tips on How to Keep Plants Alive During Vacation

The good news: it sounds like you’re going on a trip! The conundrum: What to do with your houseplants while you’re on vacation. Whether you have one or one hundred plants (or are leaving for a week or a month), keeping your indoor plants alive while you’re on vacation takes preparation. So how can you do it?

Frequent Flyers

Let’s just take a moment and say that if you frequently take lengthy trips, selecting drought-tolerant plants will save you lots of headaches. Looking for some inspiration?

  • Sansevieria
  • Agave
  • Pothos (including the ‘Snow Queen’ and ‘Neon’)
  • Desert Rose
  • Hoya ‘Hindu Rope’

Even if your expeditions are short (lasting a week or less), plants that are content with household humidity will be your best option. Like what?

  • Philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’
  • Philodendron ‘Birkin’
  • Philodendron ‘Moonlight’
  • Crown of Thorns

Clearly, making wise plant selections based on your typical travel itinerary won’t leave you with bland decor: you can still have an Exotic Forest!

How to Keep Indoor Plants Alive During Vacation

Getting Help

Do you have a massive plant family with varying care requirements? You may need to enlist the help of a fellow plant fanatic or hire a professional plant sitter. (Seriously, check listings in your local area!) Handing the baton over to someone else can feel daunting, so how can you help them succeed?

  • Determine the frequency of visits. Unless you also have a furry friend to look after, chances are, your plant sitter doesn’t want to come over daily. Realistically evaluate your plant’s needs. Is once a week enough? Twice a week? 

  • Give your plant a health check-up. Inspect them for pests, disease, and any other issues. Start any remedies your plant requires ASAP, and ensure that your plant sitter is informed about your treatment plan.

  • Helpful hints. We can’t expect our plant sitter to remember everything, right? Write tips on clean popsicle sticks and stick them in your plant’s pot. What should you include? Things like your plant’s preferred moisture level: “Dry topsoil” or “2 inches Dry” are a few examples of valuable instructions!

  • Making a spreadsheet. If you’re a detail-oriented list-maker, this could be your dream option. And the best news? You make a list once, maintain it by adding any new additions, and viola! It’s ready to hand off to your plant sitter whenever you travel. (Tip: You can use the popsicle sticks as “name tags” to help your plant sitter quickly identify the plants in your collection.)

  • If you only have a few fussy specimens, you might decide to hand them over to a fellow plant parent for a “sleepover.” Things to keep in mind? Help your friend locate the best spot for your plant: one with proper lighting and humidity. Do they have the tools they need? Or should you loan them your mister or humidifier? Hash this out before your departure!

    How YOU Can Keep Your Plants Alive During Vacation

    So you want to fly solo? There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if your trip is somewhere between 7-10 days. What are some ideas to keep your indoor plant alive and flourishing while you’re on vacation?

    Relocating Sun Lovers

    Sun = water evaporation. So, your direct light and bright indirect light plants will dry out more frequently than those that require medium-low light. Solution? 1-2 weeks before your departure, move the plants that are currently in extra bright locations to an area a few more feet away from the window. Why? This will allow your plant to acclimate to its new environment while it’s under your supervision. Remember to hold off watering until you’re ready to leave!

    Clustering Humidity Cravers

    Do you have several humidity-hungry plants? Cluster them together in a small room and close the door. Why? Plants produce humidity; a small, sealed environment will maintain a more humid climate!

    Forgo Fertilizer

    When you order your favorite burger at a fast-food restaurant, what’s the next question? “Anything to drink with that?” Our plants are no different… when they’re fed, they get thirsty too (mainly because it triggers a growth spurt)! If you know you have a trip coming up, hold off fertilizing 1-2 months before your departure. 

    Rethink the A/C

    Bumping your thermostat up a few notches while you’re on vacation is an effective way to minimize your indoor plant’s watering routine and keep it alive. Why? Less A/C means more humidity and less ventilation, keeping your plant’s soil moist for longer periods.

    Remember, don’t go crazy and turn the A/C entirely off. If the environment is too hot for chocolate, it’s too hot for your plants. (Besides, you don’t want to come home to a burning, musty house!)

    Self-Watering Systems

    It’s important to note, Self-Watering Systems (pots or methods) are only suitable for plants that like to maintain even moisture. If you have a plant with requirements like “allow the first 2 inches to dry out” or “allow the topsoil to dry out,” this isn’t the solution for you.

    • Self-Watering Stakes: Stakes (like these) water your plant through osmosis for 7-10 days. How? The soil draws moisture through the stake’s clay tip, which is connected to a water bottle.
    • Self-Watering Pots: If these usually aren’t your preference, here’s some good news: You don’t have to routinely use the Self-Watering reservoir if you don’t want to. It will just be there when you need it! Read up on which pot you select since many are suitable for varying lengths of time. And remember: Don’t repot your plants immediately before departure. 
    • DIY Systems: Okay, MacGyver… Do you know what you can make with a potted plant, a shoestring, a book, and a glass of water? You got it: a DIY Self-Watering System! How? (1) Fill a large glass with water. (2) Elevate it on a book next to your plant. (3) Place the shoestring in the glass, reaching the end to the bottom. (4) Push 3 inches of the other end into your plant’s soil, near its base.

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