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12 Ways to Care For Houseplants While On Vacation

Caring for your plants while on vacation can be a challenge, especially for those with specialty or rare plants. Plants need more than just water, and those who are vacationing for a long period of time need some tips and tricks for keeping their plant alive while they are away. 

12 Tips for Keeping Indoor Plants Alive While You’re Away

1. Use Grow Lights

Use Grow Lights

Several types of plants require partial light conditions. In these instances, leaving your plants in a full sun window for a several-week vacation can be too much. Instead, look for grow lights that can be set to turn off and on with a light timer to ensure your plant gets just the right amount of light. 

2. Automatic Watering Systems

Automatic Watering Systems

Set up an automatic watering system for your plant before you leave. Some options include bulbs, string watering, or a peddle tray. 

3. Group Plants Before Leaving

Group Plants Before Leaving

Grouping plants together creates a microclimate that helps retain moisture and increases humidity levels. For plants that require humidity, place them close together before you leave so they can share humidity and keep the room humid for longer.

4. Add Compost to Soil

Add Compost to Soil

To ensure your plants get enough nutrients while you are away, add compost to the soil just before you leave. There are also compost pellets which can help extend the soils’ absorption of the compost for longer vacations. 

5. Set the Room Temperature

Set the Room Temperature

When you are home, you likely change the temperature on a daily basis. You might be tempted to turn the thermostat down while you are gone to save money, but this can kill your plants. It is recommended to set a schedule on your thermostat while you are away, keeping the temperatures around what you normally would so as not to shock your plants. 

6. Add Lava Rocks to Your Plants

Add Lava Rocks to Your Plants

Lava rocks on top of plant soil can help a plant to retain moisture. Place a few rocks on top of the soil just before leaving. You can also use wood chips, or wet newspaper in a bind. 

7. Make a Mini-Greenhouse

Make a Mini-Greenhouse

Another way to care for plants that need humidity while you are away is by making a mini greenhouse by covering with plastic bags. Water your plant, then cover it with a plastic bag, taping the edges just below the pot rim. Cut a few small slits so the plant can breathe, but the plant will stay humid for an extended period of time using this method.  

8. Prune Before You Leave

Prune Before You Leave

Pruning the overgrown foliage of a plant right before you leave for your vacation can allow it the space it needs to grow and maintain plant health while you are away. Remove any dead or yellowing leaves and branches. Then tuck them into the soil at the base of the plant.

9. Find a Plant Sitter

Find a Plant Sitter

If the vacation you booked is longer than a week, then you will likely need to hire a plant sitter. Ask a friend, neighbor, or professional plant-sitter to care for your plants while you’re away. 

Create a task list for them, which includes action items like watering or rotating plants. Have your plant sitter come one or two times per week. 

10. Add Curtains to a Timer

Add Curtains to a Timer

When a plant sitter isn’t feasible, you can also control the light your plants get by putting your curtains on a timer if you have electric shades. Setting them to open and close at certain hours of the day (using a light timer) can ensure your plants only get the light they need.

11. Add Bug Catchers to Pots

Add Bug Catchers to Pots

It’s common for plants to attract small bugs, even when they live indoors. Order bug stickies and place them in your pots before you leave to ensure there isn’t an infestation while you are away. 

12. Water Thoroughly

Water Thoroughly

For shorter vacations that don’t warrant a plant sitter, be sure to give the plants a good watering just before you leave. Ensure there is enough moisture to last while you’re away, and move the plants to either a shaded area or a place with indirect sunlight to keep them from drying out too quickly.