Watering Houseplants While On Vacation

 Ontario, Canada

Ontario, Canada

What’s the first thing to do when you get back from vacation? Check on the plants of course! We often go on short vacations to a cottage (a very Canadian pastime) as a retreat from the city to enjoy fresh air and starry nights. Suffice to say, with as often as we go, I've mastered the art of going without a plant-sitter and can comfortably leave for up to 1 week during the peak of summer (even longer in the winter when the plants are dormant).

Here are some tips and tricks I use to water my houseplants while I'm away on a short vacation. You don't have to use every single one of these methods: adjust according to how much light and therefore water each individual plant needs (a succulent for example, won't need any sort of humidity hack, but a fern could benefit from multiple).


Vacation Watering Tips

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Last Minute Watering:

An obvious given is to water right before you go: I do this a couple hours before I leave. I'll still "top off" the plants that don't need a thorough watering.

❷ Sheer Curtain:

Draw a sheer curtain over bright windows (south or west). Adding slight shade mimics a streak of cloudy days, allowing the soil to stay moist longer. You can substitute this by moving plants away from a bright window.

❸ Huddle Together:

The transpiration from neighbouring plants help create a humid environment - more humidity slows down the dry process.

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❹ DIY Self-Watering Reservoir:

Simply set your plant in a bowl of water (pebbles optional). You can have it so that there's just enough volume of water for the plant to drink the bowl empty by half-way through your vacation. This allows the soil to dry out during the remaining half.

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❺ Run the humidifier:

Not just for winters, you can run your humidifier to have a more humid environment, similar concept to "#3 Huddle Together."

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❻ Greenhouse:

Keep sensitive plants in a greenhouse: if you don't have one on reserve, you can DIY this with sheer plastic bags or large upturned jars. Always ensure adequate light is allowed through.

❼ Self-Watering Bottle:

For large planters, I’ve upturned bottles full of water and buried the neck directly into the soil. This allows the bottle to slowly water the plant over time. Make sure your opening is narrow, if not, use a clay spike to regulate the flow.


Vacation is all about being stress-free and hopefully these tips will provide you with some peace of mind. If you are particularly anxious and vacationing for the first time with a houseplant collection, set these systems up and have a friend check on them so you can be reassured. I totally get it!


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