5 Tips For Keeping Your Plants Alive While You're Away

Taking care of houseplants can be a considerable part of your weekly routine. When you bring in more houseplants, you add more work, but the joy they provide outweighs this burden. Most plant parents love caring for their plants, and it's rewarding to care for them and watch them grow and thrive. However, everyone needs a vacation occasionally, and while the idea of time away is exciting, leaving your plants behind can also be challenging. Like ProFlowers says, after spending so much time caring for them, you'd hate to come home to most of them struggling, if not dead.

To avoid such horrors, research and invest in a few items that can help keep your plants happy and healthy while you take some time for yourself. Because even though you love caring for plants, you need to tend to yourself too! So here are the best ways to ensure your plants are just as healthy when you return from your trip!

1. Find a suitable water solution

Most of the damage to plants while you away occur because they do not have enough access to moisture. Plants need water to survive, whether in the air or their pot. According to Food52, a good soak will ensure the soil is saturated and provide the plant with plenty of water in your absence. One of the best ways to soak your plants while preparing for a vacation is by showering them. Not only will this clean the leaves of dust and produce a boost in humidity, but it will also thoroughly drench the soil. This should be enough water for trips about a week long.

For cacti, succulents, and other drought-tolerant varieties, ProFlowers says you don't have to worry about them. Even a two-week vacation shouldn't hurt these plants since they prefer to go without water. However, to be safe, you can always give them a good soak before you leave. But be sure their pots have drainage so the soil can dry out quickly; these plants hate to sit in water.

2. What about tropical plants?

You'll have to get creative for the plants that need moist soil and humid air. Tropical plants, for instance, require these and more. Unfortunately, most humidifiers won't be able to run for a week without running out of water. So instead, it's imperative to consider clever techniques to help keep these plants happy.

First, you can use mulch or plastic wrap over the top of the soil to help keep the moisture from evaporating, via Eco Peanut. Second, there are self-watering pots you can invest in, like this one by Easy Plant, or little devices that drip water slowly into the soil. If you prefer taking the DIY route, you can make these instruments with a few items you probably already have, like plastic bottles or a water bowl with some string. Alternatively, you can buy cute options off Etsy, like theĀ Mushroom Self Watering Glass or theĀ Terracotta Plant Watering Device.

3. Move them away from the light

As mentioned, the most problematic aspect of leaving plants home alone is their access to water. The more sunlight your plant gets, the more water it will need. According to Plant & Soil Sciences eLibrary, this is because of transpiration, which is when plants pull water from the soil and use it to grow and survive. To prevent plants from using up all their water too quickly, you can move them away from the light just a bit to reduce their need for water, via Food52. If you have a lot of plants, this can be a headache to move them all across the room. This process can be made more manageable with a plant cart like this one with wheels.

Once you return from your relaxing vacation, or maybe not-so-relaxing visit with the in-laws, you can put your plants back in their original spot. Alternatively, Food52 says if they are bigger plants that are hard to move, you can use a curtain over the window to diffuse some of the light.

4. Avoid fertilizing before you leave

Giving your plants food before you leave might sound like a good idea to ensure they have everything they need to survive while you're gone. However, this is not the case. It would be best if you skipped fertilizing your plants in the weeks leading up to your trip. Fertilizer boosts the plant's growth rate, says Frontier, meaning they will use more energy and water to grow and deplete the nutrients they were just given. This will result in your plants needing to be watered more often, which is not what you want right before you leave them alone for a week or more.

Similarly, you won't want your plants to invest much energy into dying foliage in your absence. Pruning can help plants reserve energy and, once again, save water, according to Food52. Be sure to rid the plant of unhealthy leaves or dead foliage and then prune any flowers that could make the plants use more water. This will set your plant up for success to survive while you're away.

5. Phone a friend, or hire a sitter

All the above tips and tricks are excellent ways to keep your plants happy while you're away. However, if you'll be gone for a month or more, these typically won't last long enough. For such situations, Swansons Nursery says you can always call a friend who lives nearby or hire a plant sitter. Plant sitters are like pet sitters who come to care for your plants in your absence. This means they'll need to be allowed into your home while you're not there, and not everyone loves this idea. You can find fantastic sitters who go through background checks on apps such as Watering Can. Or you can ask your friends and family to see if anyone has someone they trust.

Once you've found a sitter, it's a good idea to invite them over before you leave, according to Swansons Nursery. This allows you and the sitter to tour the house and plants, where you keep supplies, and you can go over the details about how you care for your plant babies.