Caring For Houseplants While You're Away

Vacations are meant to be times when we can wind down, relax, and recharge. We get on a plane, or train, hop into our car or across the sea and toss the cares of our lives at home behind us for a few days or weeks.

If you have indoor plants, though, time away can seem stressful. These are your little green friends who depend upon you for water and care. Will they be alright while you’re on your vacation?

There's no reason to sweat! Caring for houseplants while you are on a trip can be easy as long as you know how to set your plants up for success. Here’s a guide to guaranteeing you come home to happy, healthy houseplants.

The Steps Everyone Should Take

I’m going to break down houseplant care steps by the period you plant to be away from home. There are certain things, however, that everyone should do before heading out on a trip to make sure that their houseplants are going to be a-okay.

The first thing to do is check in with all of your plants. Coming home to a healthy plant means making sure that you are leaving with a healthy plant in the first place. This involves making the rounds on all your houseplants and understanding how they’re doing before you leave.

Check your plants for signs of a pest infestation, and take care of any bugs that you find as quickly as possible. You can check out our Care Article on pests to identify who may be munching on your plant’s leaves and how to deal with them.

You will also want to check in on your plants to make sure they aren’t suffering from any type of disease or fungus. Take a look at soil health, leaves, and stems to make sure everything is looking healthy.

Look out for moldy soil, yellowing/browning leaves, and any spots forming on your plant’s foliage. Any leaves that look unhealthy should be pruned with sanitized shears. This will help stop the spread of infection and give your plant a helping hand in getting better.

Leave the curtains or blinds open for any plants that regularly depend on the sun coming through your windows. This way you can ensure that your plants will get the amount of natural light they’re used to while you’re away. On the other hand, if there are any plants that you move during more intense hours of daylight, go ahead and move them before you leave to make sure they don’t get scorched.

If You’re Going to Be Gone a Few Days

If your trip is going to be less than a week in length, then ensuring that your houseplants are well taken care of is going to be a bit easier than if you’re planning a month-long getaway.

Most plant owners water their plants once a week, and sometimes once every two weeks in the fall and winter. If your trip falls in the days between your normal watering day, then water your plants on the day that you normally would. For example, if you water every Sunday and your trip is scheduled for Wednesday-Saturday, then you don’t need to do anything special to safeguard your plants. Houseplants love routine, and sticking to your usual watering day will keep them happy.

If you have plants that you water more than once a week and you are going to be gone on the day(s) you would normally water them, then give them a drink before you leave. It’s also a good idea to check all of your plant’s soil the day that you leave or the day before to make sure you haven’t forgotten about any plants that need attention.

If You’re Going to be Gone for a Week (or a Little Bit Longer)

If you are planning to be away from home for a week, or even a week and a few days, then you are going to want to take some extra steps to make sure that your plants are hydrated during that time. You can even ask a friend or family member to come to check on your plants during that time and water them, but if that’s not possible there are some pretty cool water delivery systems out there.

The first tool I’d suggest is the Plant Life Support Houseplant Watering Device from Bubblegum Stuff US. This quirky little drip system will keep your plant watered for up to 7 days, and has easy-to-follow instructions printed right on the bag. Fill the bag and hang it on the provided hook that can be stuck into your plant's soil. The system comes with a water regulator that delivers a steady drip of hydration to your plants while you’re gone.

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Another wonderful way to make sure that your plants don’t get thirsty while you’re gone is the Olla Pepin terracotta water spike from Pepin. The olla is a very old, traditional way to irrigate plants- fill an unglazed ceramic jug with water and then bury it next to plants. The porosity of the jug will allow the water to leach out slowly over time and allows the plant to have long-term access to water without a gardener having to water the plant regularly.

The Olla Pepin works the same way but is smaller sized to suit houseplants. Simply fill it up and then bury it into the soil of your potted plant. One of the coolest things about this product is that if you use it regularly, your plant’s roots will begin to grow around the olla itself. This will enable your plant to draw out only the water that they need when they need it- pretty cool!

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If You’re Going to be Gone For Multiple Weeks or a Month

Water your plants before you go, and definitely check in on their health before you take off. Don’t rely on watering spikes and do rely on someone you trust. This is a situation where you want to have someone- either someone you know or someone you hire- to come in and care for your plants.

If all your friends and relatives are sorely missing a green thumb and cannot be trusted, then there are services that offer plant sitters. These are people who can come into your home (for a fee of course) while you are gone and keep your plants alive while you are on vacation.

Make sure to be clear with plant care instructions when you hire a plant sitter or ask a friend or family member for help. And it’s always nice to leave a note detailing care instructions, even if you talked them over. No one can remember everything, and why take the chance when it comes to your precious plants?

And there you have it- an easy guide to caring for houseplants while on vacation, no matter the length of time. Take these steps to ensure that you and your plants can relax while you’re away.