How to Care for Houseplants While On Vacation

You’ve been diligently busy filling up your house with indoor plants and transforming the interior into a lovely and welcoming environment.

Your careful attention has resulted in everything seeming vibrant and full of life, but now that you have a vacation on the horizon—even while you can’t wait for the break—you can’t help but worry about the impact your absence will have on your plants.

You may even have nightmares about returning to find withered plant carcasses collapsed in their pots. Plants generally do their best to get the most sunlight and water, but they can’t do much without you.

Firstly, take a few deep breaths and relax. We’ve all felt this way. Or let’s just say it’s a dilemma that every plant lover in the United States or around the world faces.

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Whether you’ll be gone for a long weekend to a cabin in the woods or a whole month overseas, below, you’ll find the best advice to keep your houseplants happy and healthy while you are away.

Preparing your plants will only take a short time, allowing you to devote your attention to more pressing issues, such as applying a high-quality sunscreen or reading an interesting book.

How to Keep Houseplants Alive While on Vacation

According to iNews, more people are purchasing plants than ever before. Over the previous year, the RHS has recorded a gain of 50% in sales of houseplants, with an increase of 80% in ferns and a rise of 150% in monstera sales, known as the Swiss-cheese plant.

However, for plant lovers, nothing is worse than the anxiety of returning after a vacation to find your cherished green companion dried out, wilted, and lacking leaves.

This is true regardless of whether you are an experienced plant parent or have just purchased your first succulent.

Don’t worry; we’ve done the legwork for you. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your beloved houseplants green, hydrated, and alive while you’re away on holiday.

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Things You’ll Need

Sheer Curtain
Plastic Bag
Wood Chips
Lava Rocks
Empty Bottles/Capillary Wicks
Fresh Towel
Shallow Tray

Read How to Clean House Plant Leaves

Tweak the Light and Temperature

Imagine this: you’re out in the sun for almost the whole day. Won’t you feel thirsty? Of course, you will. In the same way, your plants feel thirsty, too.

This is due to a few factors, the most significant of which is that plants lose the most water through a process referred to as transpiration.

The rate at which a plant loses water through this process depends on how much sunlight it receives. Therefore, the higher the amount of natural light, the more water it will need.

The tip is to relocate your houseplants to prevent them from withering due to a lack of water while you are gone.

You may even place them in the center of the room so that the heat and light coming in from the windows won’t be able to dry them out as quickly as they normally would.

On the other hand, if you do not plan to move the houseplants, hang a curtain over the window. Remember, whether you’re at home or not, you should never direct the full force of an air conditioning or heating system at or near a houseplant.

Although they are a luxury for people, air conditioners and heaters tend to strip the humidity out of the atmosphere inside the house, which most tropical plants crave.

Maintain Moisture

If you are just going to be gone for a week or less, properly watering your plants before you leave is enough to keep them healthy, growing, and most importantly, ALIVE.

Be cautious to only water plants with potting soil that is dry or mostly dry before you water them. Allow any extra water to drain from the potted plant.

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This will ensure that the potting soil is kept wet, but your plants will not be sitting in a saucerful of water, which might cause the roots to rot or encourage the growth of pests.

This step is only required for plants that you must water at least once weekly. Houseplants resistant to droughts, such as succulents and cacti, may last a week or two without being watered completely.

When the winters arrive, the time for slower plant development and the hibernation of certain plant species, you may skip watering them altogether. 

Nevertheless, if you plan to be away for more than a week, there are several ways to keep your plants in top condition. 

Try one of the tips below or a combination—depending on the duration of your trip, the type of plants, and the time of year.

  • Transport humidity-loving plants, like ferns, to the bathroom.
  • Place wood chips, lava rocks, or mulch on the growing area.
  • Line a shallow tray with tiny rocks and fill the tray with water.
  • Water your plant thoroughly and then cover it with clear plastic.
  • DIY a self-watering system with empty bottles or capillary wicks.

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Read How to Care for Houseplants in Summer

Find a Plantsitter (Educated Neighbor)

If you have a plant-savvy neighbor or friend who can come over a few times a week while you are gone, ask them to water your houseplants.

You can then take care of their plants for them in exchange. It’s a great way to ensure that both parties have healthy, happy plants.

Even if you’re not a horticulturist, a little pre-travel preparation goes a long way. For a few weeks before you go, note how much water each plant requires and how frequently, and then give explicit instructions: “Water this plant once a week with a half-cup.”

Help your neighbor by arranging different houseplants with comparable watering requirements on a waterproof floor and out of the direct sun (in the kitchen or bathroom area).

During the summer, the temperature in your home may rise, so be sure to change the care recommendations to account for the increased water use.

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DIY a Mini Greenhouse

If you have a modest number of houseplants, you may get yourself a water-recycling terrarium online or DIY one with a big transparent plastic bag and keep them happy for months.

Place the open bag on a waterproof floor in a room that stays at a reasonable temperature year-round (cold in the summer and warm in the winter) and is shielded from direct sunlight.

To prevent ripping the bag, gently place a damp towel on the floor, then place as many watered potted houseplants on the clean towel.

Pull the edges of the bag over the plant or plants, breathe air into the bag to puff it up, and then twist the top to close it.

Put a stop to any leaks using a rubber band or a twist knot. Fold the twisted section in half for an extra-airtight closing, then wrap it with another elastic band.

The leaves of the plants inside the container will discharge excess water, which will then fall back into the potting soil and become available to the plant’s roots once again.

Regardless of whether your plants are kept indoors or outside, you must ensure they are not exposed to direct sunlight. If they are, your terrarium bag will turn into a solar cooker.

Read How to Care for Houseplants in Winter

Set Up a Wicking System

If you’re short on time and want to avoid using plastic bags, or if you simply have too many houseplants to take care of, take advantage of a wicking system.

To begin, you will need some absorbent wicking material, such as thick yarn, remnants of old natural-fiber rope, or strips cut from an old cotton T-shirt, in addition to water-holding containers, such as bottles, bowls, or pails. Note: Prepare a test pot to validate the performance of your wick.

Place a container of water next to the houseplant; if the container is big enough, it may fulfill the needs of numerous pots simultaneously.

Position one end of the wick into the water, ensuring it reaches the bottom of the container so your plant will not be left high and dry as it drinks.

Then, poke the other end of the wick about three inches deep into the plant’s damp soil. When the soil begins to dry out, water will be drawn up the wick to replace the lost moisture in the soil.

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Read Best Houseplants to Buy: A Guide to the Plant of Your Dreams

Invest in a Slow-Drip System

If your house is flooded with indoor plants, consider purchasing a drip watering system with an automated timer.

Not only will this take care of your houseplants while you are away, but it will also save you time even while you’re at home.

These systems are incredibly easy to set together and need no special tools (other than a punch that will come included with the kit).

Expect to spend approximately $100 on a basic drip system that will serve you well for years to come.

Here’s a list of the best slow-drop systems to keep your houseplants alive while you’re away.

  • Stone Color 3-Tier Stacking Planter
  • Plant Micro Automatic Watering System
  • AiHihome Automatic Watering System
  • Blumat Automatic Watering Sensors
  • AGSIVO Drip Irrigation System
  • Flantor Garden Irrigation System

Read What to do if a House Plant Gets Frozen?

A Few Days Before You Leave

  • Divide your houseplants by size and weight.
  • Then, divide your plants by type and neediness.
  • From there, separate tropical and leafy into two groups.
  • Locate the sunniest and the draftiest area of your space.

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Right Before You Leave

  • Carefully optimize indoor room temperatures.
  • Increase airflow to help circulate stale air.
  • Dry your plants out to a healthy level of thirst.
  • Move them away from heat vents and intense sunspots.
  • Group all moisture-loving leafy, tropical plants together.
  • If you have sensitive plants, think about moisture.
  • Build a mini greenhouse for moisture-loving plants.
  • Crank up the humidity for tropical plants.

Read How Much Oxygen Does a House Plant Produce?

America’s Most Popular Houseplants

Indoor PlantBotanical NamePopular States
  Aloe Vera  Aloe BarbadensisArizona, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, Michigan, Virginia
  Succulents  N/AAlaska, Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota, California, Florida, Carolina, Texas, Michigan, Arizona, Ohio,
  Snake Plant  Sansevieria TrifasciataWest Virginia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Kansas, Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota, Utah, Michigan,
PothosEpipremnum AureumOregon, Columbia, Washington
PhilodendronPhilodendronMontana, Washington, Oregon, Alaska
Peace LilySpathiphyllumAlabama, North Dakota, Nebraska
English IvyHedera HelixRhode Island, Delaware, Indiana
PeperomiaPeperomiaColorado, Connecticut, Maine
CalatheaCalatheaNew Mexico, Pennsylvania, NY
BromeliadBromeliaceaeFlorida, Hawaii, Louisiana
African VioletSaintpauliaNew Hampshire, Montana
Lucky BambooDracaena SanderianaIowa, Tennessee, Wisconsin

Read How to Kill Fruit Flys in House Plant

Low Maintenance Houseplants for Frequent Travelers

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Houseplants are hot right now and for various reasons, including the fact that millennials have adopted them as their “children” and their role in trials about healthy living at home.

Not only may houseplants enhance one’s physical health and the quality of their breathing environment, but they can also boost one’s mood and sense of mental well-being.

Over the years, even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which has researched the ability of plants to clean the air within apartment buildings, suggests having at least one houseplant for every 100 square feet of residential space.

Many plants are wonderful alternatives for those who aren’t home a lot, provided that you are willing to commit to finding the correct light and soil for your plants and developing a routine for them. In addition, some plants need less attention than others.

If you want plants for a happy and healthy house but are worried about how to care for them, here are nine plants that can survive even if you travel quite a bit.

How to Care for Houseplants While On Vacation
How to Care for Houseplants While On Vacation

The Final Cut

Who doesn’t like vacations, right? Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of taking time off for one’s health, yet, being a plant lover, you shouldn’t feel left out in any way.

The good news is that you don’t need to worry about houseplants while you’re gone. With some quick tweaks and foresight, you’re all vacation-ready.

Finally, we uncover ways to care for houseplants while on vacation. You are now ready to enjoy that long-awaited vacation knowing your houseplants will welcome you back with leafy, flower-laden arms.

This brings us to the end of this plant care guide. Now it’s time to hear from you. What are your tried-and-true tips for keeping plants happy, healthy, and alive while you’re on vacation? Drop your wisdom in the comments below. Enjoyed reading? Share it with a plant lover.