How to Take Care of Plants While on Vacation


When you go on vacation, your plants don't take a vacation from needing water. Few things can ruin a good vacation memory like coming home to a yard or home full of dead, dried plants. Whether you have an outdoor garden or a potted houseplant collection, take measures to provide your plants with water while you're gone.

Indoor Plants

Step 1

Move potted plants away from direct sunlight and sources of heat, according to Purdue University. The sun and heat can accelerate moisture loss.

Step 2

Dig a hole in the plant's potting soil and pour in several inches of soil polymer crystals. These crystals absorb water and release the moisture slowly, helping to keep soil moist up to 50 percent longer than pure soil, according to CBS News.

Step 3

Add several inches of mulch around the plants. This helps trap soil moisture.

Step 4

Set up a self-irrigation system for long vacations. The University of Minnesota recommends placing a wire dish rack or similar structure upside-down in your bathtub and filling the tub with 2 inches of water. Arrange your pots on the dish rack above the water. Stick one end of a shoelace or similarly absorbent string into the drainage hole in the pot's bottom end, and let the opposite end of the shoelace float in the water. This creates a wick, with the pot pulling in water as its internal soil dries.

Outdoor Plants

Step 1

Add 3 to 4 inches of mulch around the outdoor plants, starting from the base of the plant outward to the edges of the imaginary circle that extends under the plant's branches This helps block out weeds that can compete with your ornamental plants for soil moisture and also helps trap moisture in the underlying ground.

Step 2

Set up water stakes. These products are designed to be screwed onto a standard water bottle. Fill the bottle with water and attach the stake. Turn the bottle upside-down and stick the stake in the soil. Over time, the stake gradually feeds the plant water from the bottle.

Step 3

Buy a timer for your sprinkler, suggests CBS News. This is ideal for extended vacations. The timer can automatically turn on your sprinkler system several times a day according to your customized settings, keeping your plants hydrated while you're away.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil polymer crystals
  • Disk rack
  • Bathtub
  • Shoelaces or rope
  • Mulch
  • Water stake
  • Water bottles
  • Sprinkler timer


  • "Taylor's Master Guide to Landscaping"; Rita Buchanan; 2000
  • "The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual"; Barbara Pleasant; 2005
  • Purdue University: Indoor Plant Care
  • University of Minnesota: Houseplants on Vacation
  • CBS News: Vacation Gardening Tips
Keywords: water houseplants, water outdoor plants, vacations and plants

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.