When you go away, your plants still need looking after. Even without you around your plants need enough light, enough water, and the right temperatures. But fear not, there are a few ways to ensure that your plants do not run out of water while you are away.
Depending on how long you are away for there are a few methods that work best. The best solutions are ones that allow a gentle trickle of water to enter the soil, as too much water will lead to the plant’s roots being damaged.
So, let’s look at how to water indoor plants while you’re away as well as how some of the different options work.
Place The Plant In The Bathtub With Water
Typically, watering plants involves adding water to the soil from the top and allowing it to trickle down into the soil for the roots to soak up. This method, however, involves placing the plant pot in a small amount of water so that water can enter the soil from the bottom.
Make sure your plant is in a pot with holes on the bottom so that water can enter the container and get into the soil. The best way to do this method is to soak a towel or cloth in water and place it in a bowl or sink. Next, place your plant or plants on top of the wet towel or cloth.
Because the water is in the towel, it will take longer to get into the soil. This is what makes this method work, as the soil receives a steady amount of water, not too much at once.
If you place the plant pot in too much water you risk ruining the soil. As well as water being able to flow in, vital soil nutrients might also flow out if there is too much water. This technique works best with tropical plants that require a decent amount of watering, but less sun.
This method is best suited to plants that can survive without a lot of sun. If your bathroom does not get much sun, you can always use the kitchen sink as an alternative.
The Cotton String Wick Method
Just like when you used cotton string as a makeshift telephone, with two yogurt pots at either end, cotton string can be used to carry water from a receptacle to the plants. Simply fill a container with water, and place string from the container to the plant’s soil.
Over time the string will become saturated and water will flow into the plant’s soil. Although this method is very slow, it ca be useful if you have many plants that need watering while you are away. Just make sure the main water source has enough water in it.
One problem you may have with this method is the fact that the string may fall out of place. As you will be away, there will be know way of knowing if the string is doing its job. Why not experiment with this method and see what configuration stays in place while you are out.
The beauty of this method is the fact that if set up correctly, you can leave it set up for up to 3 weeks. Better yet, if you have a neighbor willing to help, it is a simple job to fill up the main container. Rather than explaining what each plant needs just tell them to fill the main bowl.
Make sure the string is strong and absorbent as you do not want it to break or fall out once it is saturated with water. Likewise you want the string to absorb some water. Make sure to trial a few different types of string before you leave.
Drip Irrigation Kits
If you are feeling a bit more fancy, a drip irrigation kit is a great way to make sure your plants are getting enough water. They are simple and easy to use. They pump a small amount of water through each pipe on a set schedule that you decide.
Just plug in the pipes to the soil, set the timer and amount of water, and the machine will slowly pump drips of water to the soil. All you have to do is decide how long the system pumps water for and how often.
These kits can even be set up to drip water to your plants continuously for up to 30 days. Again, like the cotton string method, a neighbor can come by and easily start the kit over again, just fill the main bowl with water and reset the pump settings.
These kits either run on mains electricity, battery power, or can be USB charged. Make sure that it has enough charge before you go away. Likewise, if you live somewhere with occasional power cuts, then this method might not suit your situation.
The Greenhouse Method
This method may seem more complicated than the others, but will work just as well if not better. The only way soil goes dry is through the process of evaporation. When water is exposed to heat, it turns to gas and goes into the air. The greenhouse method reclaims that evaporation.
Simply get a normal clear plastic bag and place it around the plant pot, ensuring that it is air tight and our of direct sunlight. With an air tight seal, any water that is retained in the plant or in the soil will be unable to escape the bag.
When water evaporates from the plant or the soil, it will simply rise us to the top of the bag in the form of gas, then condense and roll down the inside of the bag back into the soil. Some people even keep their plants in this cycle forever, in containers known as terrariums.
If done correctly, this method can mean the plant can survive for months. However, one thing to watch out for is overheating. Because no air can get in or out, if that inside air is warmed too much by sunlight, that heat will be trapped.
Place your plant in its greenhouse set up away from the sun, perhaps in a shadier spot that it normally sits in.
Ask A Neighbor
That’s right, sometimes the classic methods work best. I am in no way suggesting you have to give your neighbor the keys to your house or apartment, but if you have a neighbor you trust, they might not mind popping in to water your plants.
Be sure to give them clear instructions as watering plants can be quite a complicated task when there is more than one type of plant that needs special attention. Of course, if you have security concerns then do not use this method.
The Plastic Bottle Method
You could even try placing a plastic bottle, with small holes poked in it, on or in the soil. This method is best for plants that need constantly damp soil.
Simply fill a plastic bottle with water, poke some very small holes in the lid or the sides, and place it on the soil.
This will allow water to enter the soil in a slow but constant way. Make sure to leave the cap on the bottle so that the water evaporates slower. Likewise, make sure all residue is removed from the bottle before use, plants may not like alcohol or soda.
This method is probably the least problematic of all the methods because everyone has a plastic bottle laying around somewhere in their home. As well as being convenient it is a cheap method.
The one drawback of this method is the fact that it does not keep the plant watered for a long time. A normal sized bottle of water will only keep the plant watered for around four days before it runs out. This method may be best for a long weekend or a short break away.
It is entirely possible to keep your plants watered and healthy even when you are away. As long as you devise a way for water to slowly enter the soil, not too fast and not too slow, then your plants should be fine.
Remember that plants need different water amounts, and may need different watering timings. Be sure to research into your plant’s needs and maybe even test each method for its effectiveness. The last thing you want to do is over or under-water your plants.
Remember that before you leave your plants alone it might be best to give them extra water anyway. For example if you water them once a week, give them an extra glug before you go. A little extra water will help them cope better while you are away.
So get those scissors, water bottles, and pieces of cotton string out and set up a way for your plants to stay hydrated while you are away. They may miss you while you are gone, but they will not go thirsty.