How to keep houseplants alive when on holiday

We all need a holiday sometimes, but if you are proud of your house plants, the thought of returning home and finding they are wilting from a lack of water will be a frightening prospect.

While most house plants will comfortably survive just a few days without being watered, if you are away for a prolonged period, particularly during the warmer summer months, a sustained timeframe without your plants getting a healthy drink will leave them at risk.  But there are things you can do to solve the problem and make sure your plants are happy and healthy even in your absence.

One of the simplest and most reliable ways to have your house plants looked after is by asking a friend or neighbour to pop in and water your plants while you are away. With this personal approach, you can be confident your plants will get a good level of attention.

However, this solution isn’t open to everyone as we don’t all have someone we feel we can trust with access to our home, or perhaps those teenage children staying behind are just a bit forgetful.

If this is where you find yourself, there are still options available to you. One quite simple quick fix is to re-pot your plants with water-retaining granules added to the soil. While these are not effective for longer periods away, they can make a difference by prolonging the moisture available for plants.

These granules are simply added to the compost and swell substantially as they absorb water, which can then be released over a longer timeframe. They also help to prevent the problem of overwatering which can lead to excess water holding in the compost - something that can harm the plant roots.

Operating in a similar way, self-watering pots can give you peace of mind when you are away from home. These pots allow you to fill a larger reservoir of water that can be gradually fed into the pot as your plants need while you are away. There are a number of different styles and sizes of self-watering pots, so you are sure to find the right one for your plants.

What you do need to keep in mind when it comes to using self-watering pots while you are away on holiday is that it might involve repotting your plants before you go. Self-watering pots are certainly a great solution for people who like to plan ahead and are away quite often, making the most of the reservoir facility. 

Alternatively, try employing the wick method. This is very simple and can be done instantaneously without any replanting. The wick method uses a soft string fabric (such as a shoelace) and draws water from a solution of water and nutrients into the soil of your plant, preventing your plants from drying out.

The moistened fabric has one end placed in the water and the other placed in the plant pot, ensuring the mouth of your container is positioned higher than the level of the compost in your pot. With a larger water supply, this method can be effective over a sustained period of time for a longer trip away.

If you would like advice on watering your house plants when you are holiday the Poplar Nurseries team are always available at our garden centre to support your gardening activities.