Gardeners lovingly blend various plants in container gardens every year. Potted plants require intense care to remain beautiful because the container limits access to water and nutrients. In contrast, garden plants have ready access to these essentials except during times of extreme drought. Lack of water causes potted plants to dry out quickly in the close confines of a planter. If a vacation looms, keeping your potted plants moist during your absence will ensure the plants remain healthy when you return.
Shade, Shelter and Water
Move all plant containers under the canopy of a large shade tree. This area shouldn't receive direct sunlight and should feature minimal reflective sunlight off patio or deck areas. Place the planters on top of the mulch between existing plants to provide shelter as well as access to any available rainfall during your absence. If you don't have mature trees, move all planters into a cool garage to slow growth and limit water evaporation from the soil.
Remove hanging baskets from their hooks and place these planters in the shade. Air circulation around all sides of a hanging planter causes it to dry faster than container pots or garden plants. Place hanging baskets in sheltered locations between other plant pots to limit moisture evaporation caused by wind.
Mulch the surface of each basket or planter with a 1-inch layer of shredded pine bark or hardwood mulch. Mulch helps conserve moisture in a planter much as it does in the garden.
Stop fertilizing plants right before or in a two-week period of time before vacation. Fertilizer stimulates plant growth. The objective lies in slowing down plant growth to conserve energy and water in the container.
Water the plants deeply at the soil surface every two to three days leading up to departure with a final watering on the last day. Make sure each plant has a drip tray. Fill each drip tray with a 1/2 inch of water to supplement the plant during your absence.
Drip Irrigation Using a Soaker Hose
Collect all pots and hanging baskets in a sheltered, shady location. Arrange to the pots in rows to allow efficient use of a garden soaker hose.
Connect the soaker hose to a standard garden hose attached to an outdoor water timer. Set the timer to water every other day during your absence. This method requires the outdoor water tap to remain on during your absence.
Wind the soaker hose over and through each plant pot and hanging basket.
Turn on the water flow to the recommended rate. Soaker hoses require a slow trickle of water that gradually provides moisture to each plant.