Outside view of VIDA Building

Keeping Plants Watered While You’re Away

Houseplants being watered with a pitcher

August 2022


If you have plants in your apartment or townhome and travel for several days or more, it can create watering challenges. In some cases, you can just wait until you get back. Plants like succulents can easily handle a dry spell. But if your trip is long or your plants require moist soil, you’ve got problems. Here are 7 simple ways to make sure your plants stay hydrated, healthy, and happy.

Give a Thorough Watering When You Leave

Just before you go, give your plants a thorough soaking. Typically, more than what you’d normal do, so you can get a day or two extra beyond your normal watering cycle.

Move Plants Out of Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight heats the soil and causes water to evaporate. While most plants need direct sun, spending some time with less sun will be far less harmful to them than spending time without water.

Create a DIY Watering System

Build a drip watering system using a plastic bottle. Just remove the cap from an empty water or soda bottle and pierce one or two small holes in the cap using a needle. Then fill the bottle with water, replace the cap and invert it in the soil of your plant. Just be sure it’s pushed deep enough that the bottle stays upright and doesn’t fall out. Water will slowly seep out while you’re gone. Be sure to first try this before you leave town. You may have to add holes to the cap until you create the amount flow your plant needs.

Use Water-Retaining Granules

Water retaining granules do just what you’d think. When you mix them with your soil and then water your plants, they hold water and slowly release it over time. This works especially well if you thoroughly soak plants before you go so that the granules soak up as much water as they can hold.

Make a Plant Bath

If you have your plants in pots that have a drainage hole at the bottom, you can place them in a large shallow bowl filled with water. They’ll be watered from the roots up while you’re gone.

Try a Water Wicking Drip

Place your plants around a large bowl filled with water. Be sure the bowl of water is raised higher than your plants. Then cut a length of cotton rope (make sure it’s cotton rather than polyester), place one end in the water and bury the other end in the soil of each plant. Water will slowly “wick” down the rope from the water to your plants.

Be Neighborly

A simple way to ensure your plants are cared for is to enlist the help of a friend or neighbor. Make things easier for them by leaving clear instructions and making sure any watering or fertilizing equipment is left out for them. You should also offer to return the favor when they go away or pick up a small gift for them during your travels.