Where are you going on vacay this summer? Are you flying to an exotic location abroad? Camping off the grid? Sunning on a beach with a good book? Wherever you go, you need to add one more thing to your to-do list before you head out the door: Make a plan for watering your plants. No matter how relaxing your vacation is, coming home to dead plants is a buzz kill. So, here are some tips for how to water plants while on vacation.
How long will you be away?
The length of your vacation will determine which watering strategy you need to employ. For example, if you're going away for the weekend, then a good soaking of your plants along with an application of mulch before you go should be enough to keep them alive for a few days.
You need to consider not only how long you'll be away but what the forecast will be at home. For example, I recently went camping for a week. Before I left I checked the forecast and learned that little rain was expected and temperatures were going to be high. So, I moved my container plants to a location that gets some early morning sun but shade for the hottest hours of the day.
I gave the containers a good soak before I left, and I'm happy to report that they fared well while I was away.
If you're going to be away for longer (i.e. a week or more) then consider these 7 tips:
1. Ask a friendly neighbor. Hopefully you have a friendly neighbor who is going to be home while you're away. If so, ask them to water your plants once or twice a week (depending on the forecast). Of course, you should be prepared to return this favor while your neighbor is away.
2. Use an automatic sprinkler system. If you have an existing automated system then give it a test run a few days before you plan to go.
3. Group containers together. By grouping container plants close together you create a humid microclimate. Mulch will help plants to retain moisture.
4. Wind proof. If, like me, you live on the top of a hill that gets a lot of wind, then consider covering plants with summer weight garden fabric. This will help plants retain the moisture they have.
5. Self watering conversion kit. These are kits that you buy that go in the bottom of a pot. They will water the plant that's in the container for the time that you're away. Check out this link to see an example of a kit available for purchase.
I like the kits because they come in different sizes to accommodate different sized pots.
The kits are most handy if you've planned ahead and placed the kit before you planted the pot. If you haven't planned ahead it can be quite a chore to replant all of your containers.
6. Wicking system. This method employs a wick to slowly bring water from a source to your plant. It works best for container gardens. Check out this guide to make your own wicking system.
7. Overturned soda bottle. Empty a two liter soda bottle, and cut it in half so that one half contains the cap and resembles a funnel. Poke a small hole in the cap with a drill bit or nail. Place the bottle in the ground with the cap buried and the open end ready to hold water. Fill the open bottle with water.
The water will slowly drip out of the cut bottle while you're away.
image of water on plants via Shutterstock