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How to keep your plants healthy while you're away

Are you planning for your next holiday? This is a time when to-do lists can seem endless, and there is so much to do before you leave the house. There isn’t just a lot of work to do in the day or two before you go on holiday, but lots to do for weeks beforehand. One thing that is easy to miss off the list is to work out how you will take care of your plants while you are away. 

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How to keep your plants healthy while you're away
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Are you planning for your next holiday? This is a time when to-do lists can seem endless, and there is so much to do before you leave the house. There isn’t just a lot of work to do in the day or two before you go on holiday, but lots to do for weeks beforehand. One thing that is easy to miss off the list is to work out how you will take care of your plants while you are away. 

Now, you are here because you haven’t missed this essential stage of holiday planning and are wondering how to best deal with your plants. Luckily, this is the question I’m planning on answering today. 

How do you keep plants from dying while you are on holiday?

This is a broad question, and unfortunately, I can’t give you a simple answer. The obvious answer might be to keep your plants watered. But as any gardener knows, it isn’t quite as simple as this. Taking care of your plants is a little more complicated than adding water and hoping for the best. You need to consider what type of plants they are and what amount of watering is necessary, among other things, like whether the plant needs shade or bright sunshine. 

Don’t get me wrong, keeping your plants well hydrated is a great start. If you don’t have the time or resources to do much more than this, then most of your plants will survive a short holiday. When you are home, you can take care of them and bring them back to full vitality. If you want to do a little more than ensure your plants survive, the next step is to work out how to help them thrive in your absence. To do this, you need to look at the types of plants you have and work out what each one needs to stay healthy while you are away.

So, the first step you need to take is to divide your plants into categories. Consider your indoor plants, outdoor plants, pots, succulents and house plants and treat each variety as a section on its own. 

Let’s look at some popular plant categories and the steps you can take to keep them healthy during your holiday.

Deal with your favourite plants first

Many of us have those few plants that hold some special meaning to us. That might be as simple as your favourite plant because of the type or the colour that it blooms, or it might hold some sentimental value too. My favourite plant is a bonsai Acer that was a gift from my dad who grew it from a cutting. So, it is this plant that I give most of my attention to if I know I’m going to be away for a few days.

Put your favourite plants aside and work out what it needs to survive and thrive while you are away. These are the plants you want to give most of your attention to and if it means setting up DIY irrigation systems, then so be it! It is worth doing a quick search online or in books to find out what this plant needs and doing your best to provide it. If it requires daily watering, then there are some great DIY options for irrigation systems. You can also buy one of the self-watering options available. 

Head outside and deal with your bedding and pot plants

Most plants in the ground in your garden can survive a week or so left to their own devices. Make sure you give them a good watering and if necessary, add some plant food to the soil before you go. 

Your pots need a little more attention because these plants can’t continue to draw nutrients and moisture from the ground. Your best option to deal with these is to move them to a shady spot and give them a good water before you leave for your holiday. The shade can buy you as much as two or three extra days before they need watering again. You can extend this even further by popping some water collection trays underneath your pot plants. You can fill these trays with water. This allows the plants to draw up the water when they need, and these trays also double as a water collection system for rainy days.

Herbs and plants that require daily watering

It is essential to separate those plants that need watering daily through the warmer months. These are plants like your herbs or hanging baskets. You can do little other than the obvious and ask a good friend to pop around and give them water each day. The alternative to this is to install a self-watering solution. This can be as easy as filling a bottle with water and planting it upside down in the container, allowing the water to feed into the soil slowly. You can also buy some fantastic self-watering options to use.

Take care of your houseplants

Your houseplants need a little extra thought because they can’t take advantage of any water that nature provides. A simple option to keep these types of potted plants healthy while you are on holiday is to move them to the bathroom. Bathrooms tend to be light and airy spaces, and the bathtub can double up as a handy watering system. Pop your plants into the bathtub with some old towels and add water to ensure the towels are moist. Your plants can then draw up the water they need. 

Take care of your succulents by leaving them alone

Succulents are fantastic because of how well they thrive when left alone. If you have an array of succulent plants in your home, you are already aware of how little care these plants need. While away for an extended period then give them some water before you leave and then go on holiday without worrying about them at all!

How do you keep plants watered for four weeks?

If you plan to go on an extended and well-deserved break, there is a high chance your plants will struggle. This applies to both your indoor and outdoor plants. The only way to deal with is to either ask a neighbour or friend to pop in every few days and give your plants some attention or install a watering system.

You can buy or make self-watering solutions for potted plants, ranging from simple DIY ideas to shop-bought irrigation systems. You can achieve a lot with a bottle and some water trays. But if you have many plants to consider, you may need a trip to your local garden centre for advice and see what products are on offer.

For your outdoor plants, you need to consider installing a sprinkler system. These attach to your outdoor water supply, and you place them wherever you need them. Then a timer is set to water the plants at a set time each day.

We also spoke to Lewis Normand from iPlantsman about keeping plants healthy while you're away. He told us: "Pick your battles, many plants will be ok left to the mercy of rainfall. Plants in pots much less so. If you can’t guarantee them water, it may be safest to move them to a cool and shady spot while you are away (if this is indeed possible).

"Irrigation systems can be as expensive as you like, but a basic system with a manual controller can be used to irrigate prized plants (again, especially plants in pots) for less than £100 plus your time assembling and setting up.

"Set up reciprocal agreements with your friends, family and neighbours. My neighbours pop across to my garden and water anything that needs it when I’m away and we do the same for them. This is the best scenario for keeping your plants adequately watered in your absence and good for community as well.

"Houseplants are less easy unless you are happy with having non-family members coming into your home in your absence. Water well in the days coming up to you leaving. Move plants away from hotter windows and even consider moving some to other rooms to keep them cooler. It is not uncommon for me to put a little water in the bath and transfer some of my favourite houseplants in your there to give them the best chance."

How can I keep my plants watered while away?

In conclusion, the most crucial aspect of keeping your plants healthy while you are away is water. Without water, many plants won’t survive. Luckily, with a divide and conquer approach, your plants can survive and even remain healthy. All you need to do is divide up your plants into categories and then treat these categories individually. Provide the right solution for each variety of plant and your plants will be fine. There are plenty of irrigation and homemade solutions available to keep your plants watered while you are on holiday. When you come home well rested your plants will be waiting for you, alive and well.

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