I’m off on holiday in a couple of weeks. Believe me, I really can’t wait for the escape. But being the obsessive house plant collector that I am, going away without having someone look after the beloved plants can leave me feeling quite anxious.
Most house plants will tolerate a week without water, while you're on holidays. But, if you're going away for two weeks, it's well worth making arrangements to keep them watered while your jet setting. Given I am currently watering my growing army of ferns, orchids and herbs virtually every day in hot weather, a week absence could be enough to finish off some of my more delicate specimens. But things don’t have to be this way!
If, like me, you are planning a summer break, there are a range of super-simple measures that you can take to ensure your houseplants survive the temporary abandonment. And the best thing is it’ll only take you five minutes to do before you dash out the door.
As the primary factor affecting how quickly your plants will dry out is temperature, simply moving them from sunny window sills to cooler, shadier spots in the home can reduce their rate of water loss. It doesn’t really matter if they are sun-loving plants either as, for a short break, water stress is likely to have a much larger impact than a spell with lower light levels.
This is particularly important for fast-growing, thin-leaved plants, such as ferns, herbs and indoor bedding plants, which are likely to succumb to the effects of water stress far more quickly than slow-growing or succulent plants like aloes, cacti, yuccas and tillandsias. Other plants that require attention include ones in small pots, as their small volume of growing matter will dry out more quickly, as well as anything in a porous unglazed terracotta container.
Grouping your plants together in a close huddle will further reduce water loss by creating localised humidity, as the leaves of neighbouring plants both emit and trap the water of each other's transpiration.
If you want to go one better, the standard advice is to put all your plants either in the laundry tub or bathroom tub and lay a towel down underneath. Plants can draw on the moisture through the holes in their pots via the wick effect when thirsty. Make sure you water the plants thoroughly first.
For those plants that can't fit in the bathtub or laundry sink due to the size or weight of the pot, the solution here is a waterworks watering system. The waterworks system is great and super simple, I even use mine as an ongoing system even when I'm not away on holidays. The water will slowly seep out through the ceramic cone over a period of time and will help ‘water’ your plant while you are away.
Five minutes work for complete holiday peace of mind. Vino, here I come…