These basic survival tips will help your plants stay green, lush – and alive – when you’re next on holidays, writes The Hungry Gardener.
Ahead of my family’s holiday this year I’ve been making plans. Plans for someone to check the letterbox, feed the chickens, keep an eye on the bees and, last but not least, water the garden while we are away. Just like anything living, plants do best with some attention through the holidays.
But in the rush to get out the door and away on holiday it’s easy to forget. That’s until we return a month later to find our plants slumped, stressed and near death.
Avoid this dilemma by investing some time in your plants before you travel. A few simple steps will get them through any holiday break.
Most indoor plants will tolerate a week without water. But if you’re intending to be away for longer than that it pays to prep your plants in advance.
Group all of your plants together and give them a proper soaking just before you go. After watering, lay out an old towel in the laundry trough or bath, place your pot plants on top and then run the tap to fill the trough or bath with a couple of centimetres of water.
The plants will wick this water up into the soil as needed through the drainage holes at the base of the pots. The towel will remain damp and will continue to provide your plants with moisture while you’re away.
If you run out of room in the bath, or you don’t have one, move your plants away from windows and direct sunlight into a position with dappled light. Place plastic saucers under the pots and make sure that they are filled with water before you leave.
Also, consider cutting back some of the mature foliage. This limits the amount of energy the plant will require, helping them to survive until your return.
Outdoor container plants
As with indoor plants, give outdoor container plants a thorough watering. Slide a saucer under each pot and fill with water. An old piece of wet carpet will do if you run out of saucers.
For hanging plants, take them down and group them on an elevated, waterproof table in a sheltered position each with their own full saucer. Be mindful to arrange any draping foliage carefully.
To help retain moisture in the soil, particularly through summer, you can also place damp newspaper around your potted plants, covering the topsoil.
Garden beds and veggie patches
Holiday-proofing garden beds and veggie patches is a bigger job. Spend some time tidying up, removing weeds and refreshing the mulch. Give everything a big drenching if it’s been dry and put up shade cloth over your veggies.
A timed drip irrigation system will help with watering if you have one installed.
However, if you are going away for more than a fortnight – and genuinely care for your plants – ask a friend or family member to water when they come to pick up the mail.
3 tips to prep your plants before the holiday
1. Plan ahead
Set aside one to two hours before you leave to prep your indoor plants. You’ll need to allow more time if you have outdoor container plants and a garden.
2. Give your plants a big soak
Water the day of departure (or the day before) to give your plants a moisture boost.
3. Get a plant-sitter
Ask a family member or friend with a green thumb to look after your plants while you’re away, particularly if you have booked a big holiday.