How To Keep Your Plants Alive While You're Away On Holiday
STORY: Dawn Hee
20 September 2022
You’re all packed and ready to leave for your long-awaited vacation, but there’s just one thing left to do - making sure your beloved plants will do just fine till you get back. After all, the last thing you want is to return home and find them wilting.
While it’s best to have an experienced hand babysit your indoor garden while you're away, many of us don’t have the luxury of that. For shorter trips of up to a week or so, however, there are some easy ways to keep potted friends happy. Read on to find out how you can ensure your plants will look none the worse for wear at the end of your holiday.
1. Give them a health check-up
Needless to say, healthy plants have a higher chance of surviving your absence. So before you leave for your holiday, give your plants a quick once-over to see if there are any pests wreaking havoc, and snip away any yellowing or diseased leaves. And if you're feeling kiasu, you can always give them a generous spritz of your preferred pest product as a precautionary measure.
2. Adjust your watering schedule
If you’re only going for a short vacation (say a week or less), the plants will do just fine with a minor tweak in your watering schedule. Once your travel dates are confirmed, adjust your watering schedule accordingly so that you’ll be able to provide your indoor garden a good drink just before you set off for your trip. Not only will they be kept happy for the next few days, you’ll be back just in time for their next watering session too. Just be sure that the water is drained completely - waterlogged potting media can lead to root rot, and mozzies may breed in stagnant water left on trays.
3. Create a self-watering system
Planning to be away for a fortnight or so? A simple DIY self-watering contraption will be your best friend. All you need are some clean cloth strings (you can even get them from a new mop) and upcycled bottles at home. Submerge one end of the string in a bottle of water, and the other end into your plant’s potting mix, and let physics do its magic. Water will naturally be transported into the potting mix via the strings as and when your plant needs it. For larger pots, more strings can be added accordingly.
4. Time for some huddling
It's no secret that most plants love humidity, and you can try to keep humidity levels high in your absence by placing your plants near each other. This also helps to slow down the evaporation process for moisture in the potting mix. Alternatively, you can also add a thin layer of moist sphagnum moss on top of your plant’s potting mix to achieve a similar effect.
5. Adjust environmental factors
If your plants are usually placed in a bright and warm spot, shift them to a cooler and shadier area, or draw the day curtains while you're away. Plants tend to get thirsty more frequently in brighter and warmer conditions due to several factors such as transpiration, which involves loss of water vapour. And since you won't be around to monitor, you can be sure there's no chance of precious variegated plants getting sunburnt from the sun’s direct rays too.
6. If you’ll be away for months, however...
These tips can only go so far before your plants start screaming for some TLC. So if you’re planning to be away for a month or more, get someone to check in at least once a week, and request for them to check for pests too. Or if you’re a frequent traveller, choose hardier plants - like succulents and sansevieria - that can continue to thrive without water for long periods. All the best!