Tips & Techniques
Betterdays in Full Swing

How to Water Plants While on Vacation: Tips to Keeping Them Alive


Vacation is a time to get away and be carefree, a time to leave all the stress and chaos of life behind, escaping to a place of relaxation and peace. Don’t let a garden and watering schedule become something to worry about when you should be relaxing. Use our tools and tips to create a space that will essentially water itself, so you can enjoy that trip and come home to the beautiful yard and plants you so lovingly care for all season long.

Learn everything there is to know about how to water plants while away so you can keep the greens green and the flowers blooming, no matter how long you are gone.

Slow Drip System

Slow drip systems can be a great resource if you have containers and pots to water. They are easy to install, very simple to modify or change and best of all they are affordable and do not require professional installation. With a slow drip system, vacation plant watering is easy!

The slow drip method will irrigate, as the name implies, through a consistent slow drip of moisture that is applied to plants and flowers as roots need it. By soaking via a drip that wets soil exactly at the base of the plant, roots get a healthy drink of water without any moisture being lost to evaporation. Slow drip systems can be homemade, or they can be purchased as a simple kit from most local hardware stores.



Watering Bulbs

Watering bulbs, also known as self-watering globes, are typically glass or plastic bulbs with long hollow stems that are inverted into the soil near the base of a plant. These handy tools will water plants and flowers without so much as lifting a finger (aside from filling the bulbs and inserting them). Plant watering globes are a quick and efficient way to water even when you are away.

Simply fill the bulb with water and gently push the stem deep enough into the soil so that the bulb is stabilized. As soil dries out, it will release oxygen into the bulb, which will in turn release a precise amount of water. Depending on the size of the bulb used, some watering globes can provide ample moisture for several weeks at a time. It is the no fuss way to water potted plants while you are having fun in the sun (or snow…).



Wicking System

Wicking systems have been around for ages, and the technique is a very simple, effective way to water without having to do anything except place a wick into the soil. Wicking systems eliminate the need to know when to water plants as the wick will do it for you!

Just fill a large container, glass or vase with water and insert one end of a thick cotton rope into the water, taking care that the end of the rope reaches the bottom of the vessel with water. Place the other end of the rope directly into the soil, several inches down to ensure ample water makes it to the roots of the plant. Do not disturb the plant’s roots during this step. The rope should only be long enough to stretch from the bottom of the water source to the soil. Cotton clothesline, found at local hardware stores, is the perfect size and texture.



Plastic Bag Greenhouse System

Plastic bags are quite handy when creating a pseudo greenhouse effect for plants. They are able to hold onto water as it begins to evaporate, letting it drip back down into the soil.

To use this method, water plants well, then simply set them in a plastic bag that is large enough to accommodate the entire plant with room around it. Take care that the bag does not touch too much of the plant leaves. Use stakes to lift the top of the bag far enough above the tallest portions of the plant. Blow into the bag until it balloons out a bit, then tie it up to seal it. While away, keep the plant in a room with indirect sunlight.



Mulch Barrie

Mulched plants lose 25% less water than un-mulched plants. Encourage plants to better retain moisture by applying a layer of mulch around the garden. Grass clippings, bark mulch, leaf mold and compost will all work to shade soil and retain moisture. Additionally, mulch can help control pesky weeds and it creates a great barrier between the soil and hot summer air.

Before adding mulch, fertilize plants for a quick boost and water root zones well. Allow all water to soak in prior to adding. Place a thick layer of mulch, particularly around the base of each plant.



Set Up a Watering System with an Electronic Timer

With a few staple watering tools and a programmable timer, setting up a worry-free watering system is easy.

First, bring a flexible, durable hose like the Flexogen Super Duty Hose out to the garden. Choose a good quality hose that will be able to hold up against direct sunlight and other outdoor elements when left out for extended periods. Find the end of the hose that’s closest to the areas needing water, and connect it to a weather-resistant soaker hose. Ideal for new plantings, shrubs, bushes and raised beds, soaker hoses drip water straight to the roots of plants, ensuring they receive moisture right where they need it. For delicate seedlings, sprouting vegetables and wildflower gardens, spike an elevated sprinkler into the ground. With a circular spray pattern and 1,200 square feet of coverage, it can water lightly without allowing for any pooling of water. On the end of the hose closest to the water source, attach a timer.

It is simple to set up a timer for two different watering areas (like one for the garden and one for containers). Use a dual outlet electronic timer and set the timer according to the appropriate start time, duration and frequency for each spot. This virtually foolproof solution can even have a safeguard feature that turns the water off on days it will rain, so no need to worry about over-watering or flooding.



You want to return from vacation revitalized – so why not make sure your garden feels the same upon your return? With a touch of preparation ahead of time, you can have a carefree vacation, free from the worries of your garden’s well-being back home.

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