How to Water Plants While Away: 4 Tips To Make Your Plants Survive

Do you ever feel like you can’t travel because of your plants? They need water, but you need a vacation. So, what do you do? Can you really water plants while away? Instead of asking someone to water for you, set up a self-watering system while you’re away. With this solution, watering the plants while on vacation is easy and affordable. This guide will show you what you need for simple DIY plant waterer setups and how to make them.

How Can I Water Plants While Away?

Watering plants automatically is the solution. Think of using a self-watering system like delegating the responsibility to the system you choose.

Self-Watering Systems: 4 Techniques

Fortunately, you have a few options when it comes to watering plants while you’re away. These are some of the top choices and how to use them. As you read through these methods, keep one important tip in mind. Whenever you’re instructed to push something into the soil near the stem or base, be careful with the roots. Any item you put in the soil shouldn’t directly touch the plant’s stem. That’s too close.

1. Water Wicking

As the name implies, you’ll create a wick for this method. It involves something for wicking and a container of water. The science behind it is simple. The absorbent wick will pull water away from the container and to the plant.

How to Make It

For water wicking, you’ll need a bucket or a vase. How much water you’ll need depends on the size of the plant and how long you’ll be gone. Fortunately, you can use different sizes of containers. This will be covered in a later section. You’ll also need wicking material. Clothesline rope works well. Be sure to choose cotton since it absorbs water better. These are the steps:

  • Cut a wick piece that’s long enough to reach the plant from the water container.
  • Fill the water container.
  • Near the plant’s base, push one end of the rope a few inches into the soil.
  • Put the other end of the rope in the water container, and make sure it touches the bottom.

2. Bottle Watering

This indoor plant watering system uses empty bottles to help keep your plants alive while you’re away. For plants in small or medium planters, a standard water bottle provides enough for about three days. For larger plants, use something bigger like an empty wine bottle. The bottle creates a slow drip that waters the plant.

How to Make It

You’ll need a small nail, a hammer, and an empty bottle for each plant. Each bottle should have a cap. These are the steps:

  • First, water the plant to thoroughly saturate the soil.
  • Use the hammer and nail to create a small hole in the cap.
  • Fill the bottle with water.
  • Replace the cap.
  • Push the cap side of the bottle down a couple of inches into the soil.

3. The Plastic Bag Method

A plastic bag makes a great automatic plant waterer. Plants recycle air, which means that they won’t suffocate in a plastic bag. However, it helps to poke a few small holes in the bag to allow in some fresh air. The plant reuses the moisture it produces. Think of it as recycling water. Some plants can survive on this method for several weeks if you use a polyethylene bag. That’s the type of material commonly used for freezer bags.

How to Make It

You’ll need a bag large enough to cover the top of the plant. It shouldn’t compress the foliage. Find some yarn, twine, or something to tie around the planter. Also, you’ll need a couple of garden stakes. They should be a little longer than the plant’s measurement from the soil line to the top. These are the steps for this self-watering plant DIY method:

  • A few days before you leave, remove dead leaves and any pests.
  • Prune the plant if necessary.
  • Two days before you leave, water the plant thoroughly.
  • Before you leave, put the garden stakes in the soil near the edges of the pot.
  • Put the plastic bag over the top the day before you leave.
  • Secure the bag to the pot with string or twine.

If you’ll be gone for an extended time, put covered plants in a place where there’s more shade than sun.

4. The Bathtub Method

This simple method may work for some plants. It won’t work in a windowless bathroom if your plants require ample sunlight. The idea is to let plants soak up water from their roots. For smaller plants, you may also be able to use a sink. For example, if your kitchen has good natural light, your kitchen sink may work. This method works for about a week.

How to Make It

All you’ll need for this method is a towel. These are the steps for this indoor plant watering system:

  • Place a towel on the bottom of the sink or bathtub.
  • Fill the sink or tub with a few inches of water.
  • Put the plant pot on top of the towel.

This method works better with bottom-draining pots.

More Watering Tips

If you also have outdoor plants or a sun porch for plants, you may want a drip system. You can buy convenient drip system kits with everything you need and instructions.

Here are a few other important watering considerations for indoor plants.

How Much Should You Water a Plant?

This depends on the type of plant, its size, and how long you’re gone. As you devise your DIY watering system, consider your plant’s minimum watering needs. You can usually find helpful suggestions in online forums for specific plants. The methods in this guide allow minimal control over water measurements.

Keep in mind the limitations of some methods for watering plants on vacation. For instance, bottle watering is better for shorter periods. With wicking, you can fill a larger container for a longer trip and a smaller one for a shorter trip.

The type of plant is also important. These methods are for plants that need to maintain moist soil. They aren’t ideal for succulents. A succulent can tolerate a dry spell but not continual moisture.

Should I Water Plants From the Top or Bottom?

When you’re home, it’s good to water from the top about once a month. Doing this helps flush excess minerals and salt from the soil. However, regular bottom watering keeps roots uniformly moist and strengthens them. This is why some methods for watering plants while on vacation include putting items into the soil. The wicking and bottle methods are good examples.

Which Part of the Plant Should Be Watered?

Leaves can only absorb a minimal amount of moisture or condensation. The roots are the primary point for absorbing water. The method you choose from this list should be based on the specific plant’s needs. Do some research on the plant. Also, you can ask a local nursery about how to water plants while away if you have delicate plants.

Now you’re an expert on how to keep plants watered while on vacation without breaking the bank. Head to your nearest True Value store to stock up on everything you need for your automatic plant waterer!