A Traveler’s Guide to Keeping Houseplants Alive

If you travel a lot, you may have experienced problems keeping your plants alive while you're on vacation or business trips. You water them before you leave and hope for the best, only to come home to find they’ve wilted or worse. After an incident like this, you might be avoiding houseplants altogether. The truth is, you don’t need to forgo a luscious living space just because you’re never home. If you can’t find a plant sitter but still want to hit the road, follow these tips and you won’t have anyone calling the plant protection authorities on you.


Low-Water Plants

Start by choosing plants that don’t mind if you aren’t there to water them every day. There are a plethora of beautiful low-water plants to choose from. Succulents and cacti are a stylish addition to any room and can go for months without being watered.



A Little Shade

Some plants require direct sunlight to flourish, but most only need partial sun or indirect light. When you leave for a trip, move your plants to areas in your home that get a minimal amount of light. Shade keeps the moisture in the soil from evaporating, giving you plant access to soil water for a longer period.



Do Some Trimming

Before leaving for a trip, do a little maintenance on your houseplants. Remove any leaves that look lifeless as well as buds or flowers. These take up a lot of water and by removing them you’ll save the plant water to stay alive rather than bud and fruit. Don’t feel bad about it, they’ll grow back when your home to give them all the water the need.



Retaining Water

Try laying saturated newspaper down on top of the soil of a potted plant to keep the soil moist while you’re gone. Or step it up by repotting the plants and line the sidewalls or bottom of the pot with a water saturated diaper. This will retain a lot of moisture in the soil and keep your plant as happy as a baby!



Self-Watering System

If you’re going to be gone for an extended amount of time and really want MacGyver the situation, try making a self-watering system for your plants. It’s surprisingly simple.


Start by placing a gallon jug or vase full of water next to the plant. Get ahold of some natural twine and cut into a long piece, placing one end inside the container of water. Tape the top of the jug or vase with duct tape to prevent evaporation. Then take the remaining end and put it into the plant soil. Use a rock or a small weight to hold the twine in place. When the soil starts to become dry, it will suck water up through the twine from the container due to capillary forces, and your plant will be watered as needed. Pretty cool, right?


If you don’t keep house plants because you travel, you no longer have any excuses for not adding some life to your living space. Try a few of these tips out and see what works best for you and they type of plants you have. Remember, for added peace of mind, you can always experiment with these techniques before your departure. Bon voyage!



Images used with permission, courtesy of Przemysław Kozieł and www.dreamstime.com

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