Whether you're hitting a south coast beach for a few days, or taking an extended summer vacay, you definitely don't want to come home to an indoor plant graveyard. There's a few simple ways you can prepare your plant buddies to fend for themselves while you’re away and return to thriving greenery.
(Note, these tips are for tropical-foliage plants. Many succulents and cacti are drought-tolerant, so they should be fine without you for a few weeks.)
Away for a week or so?
Give your plants a thorough watering before you head off. You want the soil to be moist, but not so wet they’re sitting in a puddle of water; drainage is key.
Going on an extended trip?
One way to keep the soil moist over a prolonged period is by laying damp newspaper directly over the soil. To really retain some moisture, pop a plastic bag over your plants after watering. This creates a mini greenhouse. But remember, cut a few holes in the bag to allow for air circulation. Use skewers (or the like) to elevate the plastic so it isn't sitting directly on the leaves.
Self-watering pots come into their own when you go away. Simply fill up the water reservoir and your pot will do the rest.
You may need to move plants from their regular spot, particularly if they are in a sunny or light position. The more light your plants receive, the more water they require, so it's best to reduce this slightly – although you don't want to leave your foliage friends in the dark.
Keep blinds or curtains partially closed. This keeps the temperature down, which is important in the hot summer months.
Group plants with tropical foliage together. This should increase the humidity and stop them from drying out as quickly. Sit plants on saucers filled with pebbles and some water because this increases humidity. But keep the water away from roots; they can rot with extended exposure to water.
If you're a diligent plant parent and regularly fertilise plants, it's best to give them a bit of a rest from feeding in the weeks leading up to going away. Save those nutrients for when you get back and want those plants to get growing again.
Pruning dead or dying leaves and stems is good practice, but it's especially important when you're away for a while. Those dead bits can cause problems with pests if left to decompose for a prolonged period.
If you just can't bear to leave your plant pals on their own, entrust them to a foliage-loving friend. Try and give clear written instructions and group plants with similar care needs for added ease. And don't get mad if they kill anything.
You can find the original post we did for Broadsheet here.