To prepare for your family vacation, you hired a pet sitter to come to check on the cat throughout the week, put your mail on hold to prevent an overstuffed mailbox, and remembered to wash the remaining dirty clothes and dishes so you could come back to a clean home.
One important step you forgot to check off that list, however, is to have the plants watered while were away.
After your two-week vacation ends, you return to a scorched garden and dying house plants. Some of those plants can be restored with a little extra love, but the others appear to be goners.
This scenario may have been common in years past, but this summer you can keep your garden healthy and thriving by having your plants taken care of while you’re away. Here are eight vacation plant-watering ideas to try.
1. Pay attention to the weather forecast
Depending on the plants you grow and what the weather forecast looks like for the time you’ll be away, you might not have to worry much about watering.
Keep in mind, though, that even if forecasters predict rain, it’s still good to have a backup plan in case the clouds go away and the rain doesn’t come.
2. Water and mulch your garden before you go
Give the ground a good soaking the night before you plan to leave, and then add mulch to prevent water loss. A few inches of mulch is all you need in order to prevent water evaporation and maintain damp soil.
If you plan to only be gone for a long weekend or a short week, this strategy might be enough to keep your garden healthy. When preparing for a longer vacation, be sure to have someone check up on your plants when the mulch is no longer enough to keep the roots hydrated.
3. Pick veggies that are ready for eating
If there are edibles ready to be picked right now, they are likely to go bad before you get back from your trip. Take advantage of the fresh veggies your garden has grown to prepare healthy snacks for the road. Eating healthy is important while traveling, and this way you’ll save money on food.
4. Trim plants to remove dying blooms, stems and leaves
Along with your ripe veggies, you’ll want to remove dying vegetation to prevent disease. Examine each of your potted plants to scope out any dying blooms or already-dead stems and leaves. They remove any damaged plant parts you notice to keep fresh greenery thriving throughout the summer.
5. Put a timer on your sprinkler and invest in an automatic plant waterer
By connecting a timer to your garden sprinkler, you can program what time of day and how often your plants will be watered. For house plants, try a watering system that waters and fertilizes potted plants while you’re away.
Keep in mind that while a timer on your sprinkler can be very convenient, it can also cause you to over-water your garden.
Again, pay attention to the forecast and whether or not you’ll be receiving any rain during the days you’re on vacation. The amount of rain predicted will impact how often you should set the timer to turn on your garden sprinkler.
6. Cover pots with plastic bags
Potted plants tend to dry out more quickly than flowers and herbs planted in the ground. To retain moisture without having to remove plants from their pots, wrap your pots — plant and all — in plastic bags.
This strategy is effective because water cannot escape through the plastic, assuming there are no holes in the plastic. After evaporating, the water is simply reabsorbed by the plant.
7. Hire a neighbor, friend or family member to maintain your garden
If you prefer trusting a hired hand to a sprinkler timer, talk with your neighbors, friends and family members to see who has the time to help out with your garden.
And if you have a friend knowledgeable about gardening, a few simple instructions are probably all they need to properly water your plants.
If there are not many people around who have a gift for gardening, and you have to hire a neighbor who knows little about gardening, then you have to provide detailed guidance so that he or she can do a good job. This is especially true for potted plants that you may need to water more frequently.
8. Move potted plants to protected environments
Watering is not the only kind of care plants need while you’re away. Plants also need protection from both the sun and wind. For your indoor plants, it’s best not to leave plants in direct sunlight all day (unless the plant requires full sun). Instead, draw the window shades so your indoor plants can receive partial sunlight. Placing these potted plants in a more shaded area also reduces the amount of water they’ll need during your vacation.
To protect your outdoor potted plants, place them in a sheltered location where they can still receive sunlight, or bring your plants indoors. Flowers are delicate, and strong winds can easily tear off beautiful flower petals. By providing shelter, you can travel knowing your favorite flowers will still be intact when you get to return home.
Keep your plants healthy and happy even when you’re away
You’ve worked hard this spring planting your garden and tending to each plant to produce beautiful flowers and tasty food. Don’t let all of that hard work go to waste because of the one or two quick weeks you’ll be gone on vacation! Try these vacation plant-care strategies to ensure your garden remains healthy.