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How to Water Outdoor Container Plants While on Vacation

If you will be going out of town for a while, the problem of how to water outdoor container plants while you're away may arise. Some plants need to be kept in moist soil in order to grow properly, and may begin to wilt and die after a few days without water. There are two simple ways to keep your plants properly watered while you are on vacation.

Use an Empty Bottle

Water your plant thoroughly. If the soil is dry, the self-watering systems will not work properly.

Clean out an empty 2- or 3-liter soda bottle. This bottle will become your self-watering system for your potted plant. Use a serrated knife or kitchen shears to remove the bottom of the bottle. Be careful doing this, because the edges can be very sharp. Put duct tape or electrical tape along the cut edge to protect yourself and your plant from being injured.

Turn the bottle upside down and fill the neck of the bottle with potting soil. Fill it loosely; do not pack it tight.

Gently but firmly press the mouth and neck of the bottle into the potting soil in the container. Push the bottle at an angle, so that the mouth of the bottle is pointing toward the roots of your plant.

Fill the upside down bottle with water. Wait a few minutes, to allow the water to drain down, then top off the water level.

Move the plant's container to the shadiest place in the yard that the plant can tolerate. If the plant must be in full sun, leave it in full sun, but if it can withstand partial sun or filtered light, move it to a shady area of your yard. This will slow the evaporation of the water in the bottle.

Use a Self-Watering Container

Consider investing in a self-watering plant container if you will be traveling for an extended period, or if you travel frequently (see Resources). These containers have a reservoir that you can fill with water. The plant's roots "drink" the water on an as-needed basis.

Water the plant completely, making sure that the soil is very moist. Self-watering containers do not work correctly if the soil is dry to begin with.

Fill the reservoir with water. Self-watering containers differ in design and instructions, so please follow the directions included with your self-watering container.

Move the plant's container to the lowest amount of light it can tolerate. Again, this is to decrease the amount of water lost to evaporation.

Ask a friend or neighbor to visit your yard and refill the plant's reservoirs to keep a steady supply of water available to your plants if you will be away from home for longer than a 10-14 days.

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