“How to water indoor plants while on a vacation” A question mostly googled by many people before they are planning to go on a long tour or on a relaxing vacation. It is an important topic for all the plant lovers who want to take care of their beloved plants, when they are far away.
Almost all indoor plants need regular watering, except for a few like the succulents. If you are planning to go on a long vacation, without making any appropriate arrangement for your indoor plants, then surely you will find them faded, droopy, and withered after returning from the journey. Some of them may also die.
Therefore, it is very much important to make suitable arrangements for your plants before you leave. In this blog post, you will get a clear view of what things to do to take care of your near and dear plants when you are roaming around the globe.
Analyze the water requirement of all your plants
The first step of the entire process is that you have to analyze the water requirement of every plant you have. Like the succulents do not need very much water. The plants of tropical origin like the Calatheas or the Alocasia etc. need moist soil always. The orchids need dry soil between two watering.
You have to make a list of all your plants and how much water they need. Well, how would you do this?
For this, you have to analyze the past experiences of yours with the plant. You don’t actually need any lavish complicated equipment for this. Just remember how much water you are applying to your plants and in how many days’ interval you are watering your plants. The above analysis will make the list of water requirement for all your plants.
Before making the list, make sure to take into consideration the factors affecting the water requirement of the plants. Like the atmospheric temperature, humidity, sunlight incidence on that particular plant, size of the plant, water holding capacity of the potting mix, etc.
Seek help from your friends and neighbors
If you have a good friend or neighbor to whom you can rely on, request them to water your plants. If they agreed, then give the keys of your home to them. Also, give them the list you have made about the water requirement of your plants, and instruct them how and when to water the plants.
Don’t forget to bring a special gift for your friend/neighbor from the place you are going to visit.
Automatic Houseplant Watering Systems
If you don’t have a friend or neighbor free to water your plants, or you don’t want to give the keys of your house to anyone, then don’t worry. The automatic house plant watering systems will effectively do the job for you. Here is a list of such watering systems, some of which you can make at home, and some of which you can buy readymade from the market.
a) Self-watering pots-
The self-watering pots also called the self-watering planters can be an easy solution to automate the process of watering for your plants. They are easily available in the market or at any garden store. You can order them online also. You can make your existing pot to a self-watering pot by simply adding a kit available online.
The only problem with these readymade self-watering planters is that they are not suitable for a very long period of time. But it will work nicely for a period of 4 to 10 days depending on your plans water requirement.
If you want a self-watering system for a longer period of time or you want a make a self-watering system at home, then here are the solutions for you. You can choose any of them according to your convenience.
b) Simple water-wicking system
It is an easy and quick set up for a self-watering system you can prepare at your home. It will also serve you for a fairly long period of time.
- A cotton rope- A cotton rope is a highly absorbent material and easily wicks up. You can also use some cotton clothes in place of cotton rope. Make sure to roll the clothes to form a rope and use it in this self-watering system.
- A water container- You can take any container like a bucket, a jar, a tub, or anything. Choose the container according to how much water you want to supply to your plants and for how long.
You have to properly irrigate the plant before setting up this system. The potting soil should be moist.
- Place the water container near the potted plant.
- Cut a cotton rope. The length of the rope should be enough so that it could easily reach the pot from the water container.
- Keep one end of the rope inside the water container. Make sure that the rope is long enough to reach the bottom of the container.
- Take the other end of the rope and bury it inside the potting mix near the plant without disturbing the roots.
- Fill the container up with water and you are good to go.
- The water from the container slowly wicks up through the cotton rope and reaches the soil inside the pot and then to the plant. In this way, the self-watering system works on its own.
This system will work for both long and short duration. If you have chosen a large container it can function even for 20 to 25 days.
c) Bottle drip systems
- A bottle- You can take any plastic bottle for this purpose. The size of the bottle determines the longevity of the system.
- A nail and a hammer- Required to make some holes on the bottle.
The soil must be moist before starting this process.
- Take a plastic bottle.
- Make some small holes in the cap using the nail and hammer. The number of holes will determine how much water will be released to the soil.
- Fill the bottle with water.
- Bury the bottle turning upside down (cap side first), in the potting soil, without hampering the root system.
- The water will slowly release from the bottle and keep the soil moist. If you have some fancy bottles you can also decorate your potted plants increasing the aesthetic appeal of the plant.
This self-watering system will work for a period of a week only.
d) House plant bath
A very quick and easy self-watering system is putting your house plant inside a bathtub or sink. It is very effective for the house plants which need a lot of water, and can thrive well inside the dark lighting condition of the bathroom.
- A bathtub or a sink.
- A towel
- Take a bathtub or sink
- Fill it with water. The amount of water depends on the number of plants you want to water and the water requirement of the plants. Accordingly, fill the tub.
- Place a towel or any cloth on the base of the tub so that the pot could put a scratch mark on the tub.
- Then place the potted plants inside the tub. Make sure that the pot should have good drainage.
- The water from the tub can be easily sucked up by the plant roots.
This system will work from a duration of 7 to 10 days.
This system is only useful for small plants. Large and heavy pots are difficult to lift up here and there.
e) Making your own capillary mat
This self-watering system is a fusion of a plant bath system and a simple water-wicking system. It is good for plants that require moist soil always.
- A capillary mat- Any absorbent fabric would act as a capillary mat. A cotton cloth will do a good job.
- A water container
- First, rinse the capillary mat with water and spread it.
- Keep one end of the capillary mat inside the water reservoir.
- Spread the other end, and put the pots on it.
- Fill the water reservoir with water and your self-watering system is ready to perform.
- The fabric will act like a wick and absorb the moisture from the reservoir and supply to the plants.
It will work well for a time period of 15 days.
f) Plastic bag greenhouse
If you are planning to stay out for a really long period of time like a month or two, then this method will work very nicely for you. It is not a self-watering system rather a water recycling system.
- A polythene/plastic bag
- Water the plants as usual. Don’t overwater.
- Insert four wooden stakes on the four sides of the pot. This will make the framework for the miniature plastic greenhouse.
- Wrap the polythene around the pot, so that the plant will remain inside the polythene bag just like sitting inside a mini greenhouse. The plastic should not be wrapped too tight so that your plant will struggle to grow. It should be wrapped lightly.
- The water will gradually evaporate and then will return to the plant. This cycle gradually continues and the water will recycle inside the mini greenhouse we have created around the plant.
- Make sure that the entire system is not placed under direct sunlight. Otherwise, the temperature inside the plastic will eventually increase, making it a solar cooker. It will surely burn your plant, which you will not like. So keep this miniature plastic greenhouse away from direct sunlight.
This system will work flawlessly for very long periods of time. It can run even for 7 to 8 months.
All the above techniques to make your own house plant self-watering system will solve the problem for sure, but you have to choose the appropriate method according to your needs and availability of materials. Before completely rely on a new system it is advisable to at least test the system once. So if you have house plants and you are planning to go on a relaxing vacation then you must have to plan everything in advance for you and your plants.