7 tips to help your plants survive while you're on vacation

A range of houseplants lined up on a shelf
A range of houseplants lined up on a shelf (Image credit: Shutterstock)

When we go on a much-needed vacation or on an extended work trip, we often forget about our precious plants. And if you haven’t enlisted a ‘plant sitting’ friend to check in on them, you’ll probably wonder if they’ll still be alive by the time you get home!

Whether it’s your favorite succulents, orchids or tomato plants, you’ll need to know useful tips to help your plants survive while you're on vacation. This is especially the case if you already have a plant routine in place that keeps them happy and healthy.

Luckily, there are some clever ways to ensure your plants are hydrated and nourished while you’re away. Plus, this will save you the heartache of coming home to wilted, dying plants. What’s more, there’s no harm in continuing these savvy solutions as part of your daily plant care routine. 

So, if you want to ensure healthy plants when you’re away, check out these tips to help your plants survive while you're on vacation.

Plus, if you're planning on staying at a hotel, here are 7 things to always do when you check into a hotel room.  Plus,here are 7 best low maintenance plants for easy care .

1. Shower your plants 

Showing a plant in bathtub

Showing a plant in bathtub (Image credit: Shutterstock)

A good tip is to give your plants a good watering before you leave for vacation. You can either bring them all in the sink or the bathtub to shower them thoroughly until water is running out of the drainage holes. 

When the soil is completely soaked, allow water to drain from the holes before replacing the plants back onto their allocated drip trays or saucers. This should give them sufficient water for a week or two, so they remain healthy when you get back. For larger plants that can’t be moved around, you can use a watering can with a long spout, and ensure the plant has good drainage. 

2. Leave them in the sink 

Kitchen sink with plant on side

Kitchen sink with plant on side (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Alternatively, you can fill your kitchen sink with one to two inches of water. Then leave your plants to sit in the water for the duration that you’re away from home. 

Before you do, ensure you remove the saucer or drip tray from underneath the plant, so that the soil can absorb more water from the pot drainage holes. Again, this should sustain your plants for a period of time, until you return. 

3. Relocate plants into the shade 

A ZZ plant on a table against a wall with limited light

A ZZ plant on a table against a wall with limited light (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If your plants are facing the sunlight, or perched on a balcony, it’s best to move them into the shade. This way, plants are less likely to dry out quickly, or become sunburned from direct heat.  

In addition, less light is known to help soil stay moist longer, as it reduces photosynthesis and the amount of water that plant roots absorb from the soil. What’s more, lowering the room temperature to 65-70 degrees F can also reduce the levels of photosynthesis — keeping your plants in good health. 

If you lack natural light in your home however, you might want to invest in one of the 7 plants that will thrive in the shade

4. Bring outdoor plants in 

Balcony plants

Balcony plants (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, don’t forget to bring your outdoor container plants inside, and preferably group your houseplants together. If you have a lot of sunlight in the room, these can help to shade each other. 

Also, if you have containers or hanging baskets on your porch, move them into the shade, or in a sheltered area before you leave. This will protect them from the harsh sun or windy conditions. 

5. Use a self-watering bulb 

Self-watering bulbs for plants

Self-watering bulbs for plants (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another clever option is to invest in self-watering bulbs to keep your houseplants hydrated while you’re on vacation. These clever irrigation devices ensure your indoor and outdoor plants get sufficient water daily. 

Self-watering bulbs in particular, are made from high-quality glass and can hold up to 150 ml of water. Simply fill the bulb with water, make a small hollow in the soil, and insert the bulb next to the plant at an angle of 60 to 75 degrees. Watering bulbs like this Miles Kimball Plant Watering Globes Set of 6 ($18, Amazon), for indoor plants are ideal for watering for seven days. 

6. Self-watering planters 

Self-watering planters

Self-watering planters (Image credit: Amazon)

If you have larger potted plants, you might want to invest in self-watering planters instead. These are pots designed with a detachable tray/reservoir that can store lots of water at one time. The idea is to fill up the reservoir directly instead of pouring water through the soil and guessing when to stop. These also come with mesh drainage holes on the bottom of flower pots that keeps soil well drained and ventilated. This also prevents overwatering.  

Self-watering plants such as this WOUSIWER 10 inch Self Watering Planters ($19, Amazon), are ideal for watering plants for a week or even longer without the need for frequent watering.  

7. Water gel crystals 

Water granules in soil

Water granules in soil (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you didn’t want to invest in any self-watering devices, another clever tip is to use water gel crystals. These white granules store water, and can be sprinkled on top of the soil to slowly release moisture into your plants.

Generally, you’ll need to make a few, evenly-spaced holes around the plant using a thin stick or pencil before adding the water crystals. Just be sure to steer clear of the root area to avoid potential damage. Once you water the plant, the crystals will swell to absorb the water and release it to nourish your plants. Water gel granules are a great option for indoor and outdoor plants, without the risk of overwatering. This also protects them from heat and drought conditions.

You can easily find these handy granules at your local gardening center or online like this Miracle-Gro Water Storing Crystals 12 oz ($11, Amazon). Bear in mind to always read the product label first before applying the allocated amount of granules.   

More from Tom's Guide

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!