God forbid when they need sunshine and regular watering. So much work, amirite? But after all that time and effort nurturing those babies, it's hate to see all that work go to waste when you want a break from them.
Here are some strategies for a demanding water jungle while you're away on vacation, sorted from the easiest to the most complicated method.1 (Lucklily, rain isn't that consistent either, and they are used to Mother Nature's infrequent moods.)
Be sure to take note which plants need more water and which need less water.
Not every plant can be a succulent, after all, and we definitely would not recommend the bottom watering method for these!
|Vacation Length||Recommended Method|
|Up to 7 days||Bottom watering / water wicking / self-watering pot|
|1-4 weeks||Greenhouse method / water wicking|
|1 month+||Greenhouse method / water wicking + neighbor|
Water the plants from the bottom down
Oh my god! Did you know you could water plants from the bottom-up?
Not only do most people employ this method to prevent overwatering and fungus developing in the soil, it is extraordinarily effective at keeping plants happy up to a week.
This method is perfect for watering while you are away on vacation, because all you literally need to do is fill a shallow tray or baking pan with water and place your plants inside.
(In order for this to be effective, the pots would need drainage holes so the plant can suck up the water through the roots.)
Though it is not recommended to let plants sit in water to prevent root rot, personally, we really do not think it is a big deal if this is done only very occasionally, since the roots will only absorb as much as they want and no more.
This can also be accomplished with pot saucers, even though saucers can only hold a limited amount of water.
Either way, it's a good idea to let the soil dry out time to time before watering again.
(Some people keep their plants in the sink using a variation this method, but if you don't get good light by your sink, that's going to be a thing. This could possibly be remedied by applying a cheap grow light.)
Vacation Length: Less than a week
Create a mini greenhouse with a plastic bag
This is also a recommended techniques for watering and nurturing seedlings.
Putting a plastic bag (or a plastic quilt bag) over the plant traps in moisture from inside the bag, creating condensation, which will then drip back down into the plant. It's humidity—and science—at its finest.
The main thing to remember with the greenhouse method is that it will substantially raise the temperature inside the bag, so be careful about putting the plant in an area with strong sunlight since it will essentially bake the plant.
Others have noted to take care that the bag does not touch the plant foliage to prevent damage, though a few leaves might be OK.
Plants are stronger than you think!
Vacation Length: Several weeks or months
Create a water wicking system.
If you've never done this before, try this out at least a day or two before leaving to make sure this works!
Basically, you may have a decent understanding of irrigating by now.
This method is great for most plants, including succulents. (Though if the succulent only needs watering every three weeks, and you're only gone for one, then... you know.)
It requires string, a container that can hold some water and the plant. Dip one end of the string into the jar of the water and the other end buried into the plant soil, sort of like creating a makeshift telephone pole.
Some suggest elevating the pot of water to make sure the water wicks through the string.
Many people have reported great success with pure cotton strings or kitchen twine, but definitely try it out first. Nothing like thinking you've been watering the plant the entire time, and to come home to... well, to the opposite.
Vacation Length: Several weeks, depending on water container size
Buy a self-watering pot or planter
Ironically, this uses the same method as watering from the bottom-up (see above) but some self-watering pots come with an added irrigation system (fancy) by creating a space and running a medium, like a piece of string as described above, between the soil and the water.
This is basically if you don't want to go to the DIY route for whatever reason, even though that's actually easier!
In our opinion, this is an extra nuisance since it requires repotting a plant, buying an additional container, and I'm a cheap houseplant mom.
Vacation Length: Less than a week
Ask a neighbor to water the plants.
But you know, they may kill it or not be able to stop by as frequently as the plants need. If anything, we would ask them to refill a pot or tray of water!
Vacation Length: However long you want to bother the neighbor
- Go for the simple method. No point in making life more complicated than it needs to be! ↩