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How to Water Indoor Plants While on Vacation

By Joshua Duvauchelle ; Updated September 21, 2017
Potted plants need regular watering to stay alive.
potted tulips image by Derek Gower from Fotolia.com

Due to their contained growing environment, potted plants need frequent watering to survive. This poses a problem anytime you go on vacation and can't tend to your indoor plants daily. Besides hiring someone to visit your home to water the plants, several management strategies can help you keep your indoor plants hydrated while you're gone.

Repot your indoor plants in a light-colored plastic pot. Light colors deflect heat to keep plants cool and lower moisture loss caused by heat-related evaporation. Plastic also retains moisture much better than porous material like clay pots.

Set the potted plants away from direct sunlight or any sort of heating or air conditioning appliance.

Add polymer crystals, available from most garden stores, to your potted plant's soil. The crystals absorb water and slowly release it over time, and CBS News reports that such polymers reduce the water needs of potted plants by up to 50 percent. Insert a pencil three or four times around your potted plant, making holes that go down to the plant's root network. Pour the polymer crystals into the holes and cover them with a layer of potting soil. Every time you water the plants, the crystals will absorb moisture and release the moisture as the surrounding dirt dries.

Construct a self-watering system for extended vacations. Fill a bathtub or several large containers with a couple of inches of water. Turn a wire dish rack upside down and place your potted plants on the rack so that their bottoms are exposed. Insert a shoelace an inch into the bottom of each pot's drainage hole and place the other end of the shoelace into the bathtub or container of water. As the pot's soil dries, it will naturally draw moisture through the shoelace, according to the University of Minnesota.

Water the potted plants right before you leave for your vacation.


Things You Will Need

  • Light-colored plastic pots
  • Soil polymer crystals
  • Pencil
  • Bathtub or containers
  • Shoelaces


  • If you live in an area that receives periodic rains, Purdue University recommends setting your houseplants outdoors while you're on vacation so that they can be naturally watered.


  • Whatever method you choose, test it several weeks before your vacation to determine the exact length of time that your houseplants can survive without you. The length of time each method can water your plants varies according to numerous factors like your plant species and potting soil, and no watering system can keep your plants alive indefinitely.

About the Author


Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.