According to travel consultant Christopher Elliott, the travel industry has aggressively marketed long-weekend travel with the end result that Americans leave home more often. But even if it's only for a few days, indoor plants need their daily dose of moisture and light. Those who don't have willing neighbors or can't afford house-sitters can use a number of easy strategies to keep plants hydrated. Even the constant business traveler can keep a plant or two healthy with a little effort.
Hydrate plants and soil several days before leaving. Soak plants and their pots in tepid water for about 10 minutes; then allow the pots to drain completely before putting them back in their saucers or containers.
Build colonies for plants with similar requirements. Gather humidity hogs like ferns, Chinese evergreens and ficus together and separate cacti, succulents and zebra plants that thrive in hot, dry conditions.
Push a pencil through pot drainage holes and press a pre-wetted piece of cotton basting string or the end of a cotton shoelace up into the soil. Lay this wick into a gravel-filled tray then fill the tray to the top of the gravel with water.
Arrange colonies in ceramic or plastic containers or trays. Put bright-light lovers near but not in sunny windows. Tent colonies of moisture fiends with clear plastic bags held over and around the plant with bamboo plant or other wooden stakes.
Group colonies of plants that love hot, dry places near windows, too. If you plan to be gone longer than a week, put succulents in trays with a half-inch of water; moisture will be picked up by terra cotta pots.
Put plants in the bathroom if it has natural light. Line a tub or shower with nylon netting or set containers on bricks or upended ceramic pots. Draw a few inches of water to establish a beneficial humidity level. Aralias, ficus and monsteras will do fine in this environment.
Upend a 16-ounce drink bottle or larger soda bottle full of water in plant soil for gravity-powered irrigation. Buy a kit to connect irrigation tubes to the bottom of a plastic reservoir to distribute water to several pots.