This simple hack will save your houseplants while you’re on vacation

Keeping houseplants happy and healthy is easier said than done. You need to find the ideal lighting, temperature, and potting situation, and make sure you water them at the right intervals. And if your plants start to droop or turn brown, you’ll need to make adjustments to get them back in tip-top shape. All of this becomes easier once you find a routine. But as we know, routines are fickle things, and something as small as a three-day vacation can throw your plan completely off balance. Until now, that is. Read on to learn the simple trick that will keep your plants alive when you’re not around. Gardeners and gardening experts swear by this trick, viz path cheaper than hiring a plant sitter.

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The types of houseplants you own will determine the care they need when you’re not around. When creating a vacation plan, you should consider your plants’ drought tolerance, sun exposure, size, and the length and season of your trip, he says Nathan Henry, gardener and landscaper at Nathan Heinrich Design. If your plants need regular watering — which is the case for most plants that aren’t orchids, succulents, or cacti — and your trip is less than two weeks, you might want to consider employing a DIY watering system.

Plastic water bottle

Keeping plants hydrated while on vacation requires little more than a plastic water bottle. To use this method, “just fill a closed water bottle with water, poke a small hole in the cap of the bottle, and stick the bottle upside down in the soil — deep enough for the soil to completely cover the neck of the bottle,” says he Brody Hall, certified gardener at The Indoor Nursery. “The water slowly drips from the bottle cap into the soil, keeping your plants watered while you’re away.”

It is important to note that this method – like all methods – has its drawbacks. “While water-filled bottles are a great watering solution for a week or two, I’d suggest finding a workaround if you’re planning on staying away longer than that period,” says Hall. “A bottle can only hold so much water and it will eventually leak, risking it drying out and potentially killing your plants.”

The method is also prone to accidents – like a pet or gravity knocking the bottle over. Luckily, there’s a second option for watering plants on the go if that’s not right for you.

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Filling the bathtub with water
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If you have a bathtub, you have everything you need to water your plants on the go, provided they are planted in pots with drainage holes.

“A tried-and-true classic method is to fill your sink or bathtub — depending on how many plants you have — with about an inch or two of water and place your potted plants in the water,” she says Leslie Vincent, garden expert and gardener at Atkins Garden Shop. “Make sure the holes in the bottom of your pots are clear so the roots can soak up the water when they need it. This will keep the plants hydrated for at least a week.” You’ll want to make sure you remove the saucers from the bottoms of your flower pots. Leaving them on will prevent your plants from accessing the water.

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young black woman with house plants

When all else fails, the easiest — and most foolproof — way to keep plants alive when you’re away from home is to enlist the help of a plant sitter. “Hire a neighbor, housekeeper, dog walker, or online contracting service to look after the plants while you’re traveling,” says Heinrich, who notes that this is his top recommendation for people who care deeply about their plants or plan long trips.

“Write detailed instructions next to each individual plant, especially if they have special needs,” Heinrich says. “You can even request that your plant sitter send you weekly photos of your plants so you can see how they’re doing and recommend adjustments to their care.”

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