How to Leave House Plants Alone


Houseplants add living greenery to our indoor spaces, but they require constant and proper care just like any other plant. When you are called away or on vacation, the houseplants must still be provided with the proper amounts of light and water to thrive while you are gone. You can leave houseplants alone for a short one to two week period without having to arrange for a plant sitter, if you take the proper steps beforehand to ensure they can survive.

Step 1

Move plants to a brightly lit room that is out of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight dries plants more quickly and is also more likely to burn or damage the leaves.

Step 2

Fertilize plants one week or more before you leave them alone with your normal fertilizer. Fertilizing right before you leave may cause stress to the plants if they don't receive enough water to dilute the fertilizer while you are gone.

Step 3

Water the plants thoroughly right before you leave. Water until it begins to drip from the bottom drainage holes. Empty the drip tray after 15 to 30 minutes, as you don't want the plant sitting in standing water, which can lead to disease.

Step 4

Fill a shallow dish that is wider than the planter with a layer of pebbles. Add water to the dish until it is even with the top of the pebbles and set the planter on it. Place a plastic bag over the plant and dish. This provides enough moisture for a short trip of a week or less.

Step 5

Set up a wicking system if you are leaving the houseplants alone for up to two weeks. Lift the plant from the pot and thread a strip of cloth or thin rope through the bottom drainage hole and into the pot. Set the plant back in the pot. Put the other end of the cloth in a nearby bucket of water. The cloth draws water into the pot as needed to keep soil moist.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you will be gone for more than two weeks arrange for someone to come to your home and check on the plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Dish
  • Pebbles
  • Plastic bag
  • Cloth strip
  • Bucket


  • University of Illinois Extension: Caring For Huseplants
  • Penn State Extension: Houseplant Watering
Keywords: houseplant vacation care, leaving houseplants alone, watering indoor plants

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.