How to Water Plants When on Holiday

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Written and Presented by Adam Woolcott

We’re now at that time of year when many of us are going on holiday for a week or two – looking forward to relaxing, escaping the routine and just having a great time. However, whilst we’re away having a great time, our plants might not be. Especially when you’re unable to call on friends and family to keep them watered. This leads us to the question; how exactly do you water plants when on holiday?

Plants that are particularly at risk of drying out include houseplants, greenhouse plants and plants in containers or hanging baskets as these have no or very limited access to refreshing rainwater. With long hours of daylight, strong sunshine and high temperatures, these plants can dry out very quickly indeed!

How Do I Keep My Plants Alive?

There are simple things you can do to prevent your plants from drying out. Such as; moving houseplants away from sunny window areas and leaving them in cooler, less sunny rooms in the house, like the bathroom. You can cover your greenhouse glass with a whitewash or shading to block out the drying rays of the sun and pots and containers can be grouped together in cooler, shadier parts of the garden. Alternatively, plants can even be trimmed back to reduce their moisture requirements.

Once you’ve carried out the above, there are other methods to consider for later in the year. These include installing irrigation systems or drip hoses and it is best to do this later in the year. This is because when your garden is dormant, it is much easier to see where each plant emerges from the ground – meaning that you are able to see exactly where irrigation points need to be created. Another benefit is also that you can install these without damaging plants at full maturity.

There are however more immediate methods you can use to keep your plants from drying out. Some of these can be purchased and many can be made from recycled products. We’re going to look at five different methods that you may want to try in your own garden, allowing your plants to survive independently for up to two weeks.

1. Place Your Plants on Absorbent Material

The first method is to line your plant saucers or growbag trays with a deep layer of super absorbent material. I find that capillary matting or foam works the best. With this, you then add water until it reaches the top of the layer and set your plants on top. This allows them to draw water from the material as required and keeps them in good condition. This method is also useful because it means that plants aren’t sat in a constant pool of water which may actually cause them to drown.

2. Watering Globes

Water globes are a good way to keep your plants fresh during your time away.

Another option is watering globes, which are plastic spheres with a long and narrow spout. The idea is to fill the domes with water and then push the spouts into the soil around the base of your plant. Watering globes allow the water to seep out very slowly over a long period of time. This, therefore, sustains your plants while you are away. I recommend testing these a week or two before you depart. This is easily done – place your globes into your plant pot and mark a line where the water starts. 3-5 days later, check how much of the water has drained against the line. If it looks like a suitable amount then it is fine to leave while you’re away. If the water is draining too quickly, place something semi-absorbent like a kitchen roll or a cloth over the spout to slow draining.

3. Watering Spikes

Water your plants on holiday with water spikes

Something else that works in a similar way are water spikes. These are round spear shaped hollow vessels that are made of terracotta, which is porous. This means water is able to pass through it at a very slow rate. These go into the group near your plants and will need an upside-down, long-necked bottle to sit on the inside. Over time, the water will evaporate out of the spike and into the soil. This is an excellent way to water your plants when on holiday.

4. Water Bottle

Plastic bottles with tea towel can be used to keep the water flowing to your plants

If you’re looking to recycle products then the ubiquitous plastic bottle is perfect for watering your plants. Fill a bottle to the top with water, take a piece of used kitchen towel and fold it over twice. With this, place it over the bottle top and secure it with an elastic band, trimming the towel if needed. Dig a small hole next to the plant and bury the neck of the bottle in the soil. Similarly to the water globes, the water will slowly seep through the towel and water your plants. This is a perfect no-cost option!

5. Bowl and Towel

Water plants on holiday by using a bowl of water and an old tea towel

One final method you may want to try with recycled methods is strips of absorbent cloth that act like a wick. Take an old unwanted tea towel and tear it into inch-wide strips – one for each of the plants you are watering. Place one end into the base of a bucket or large bowl and then secure it with a large stone. Once it is secure, bury the other end of the towel into the soil at the base of the plant. Once you fill the bowl with water, you will find that the cloth will transport the water from the bowl into the soil as it’s needed.

This year don’t worry if you don’t have friends or family to care for your plants whilst your away – try some of these methods to water plants when on holiday, there’s never any guarantees but at least while your sunbathing on the beach you know you’ve given your precious plants the best opportunity to survive, so have a great holiday knowing that whilst you’re being refreshed so are your plants!

Happy Gardening

Adam

For more advice from Adam, feel free to check out our other blog on How to Keep Bugs Away From Plants.

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