‘Not There Plant Care’ – Caring for plants while you’re away on holiday

It’s the holiday season and you’re ready to make that trip to visit family and friends, or to escape everything for a little while.

You can take your real babies with you, and sometimes your fur babies too. But what about all those plant babies you’ve managed to collect along the way?

Well here are some top care tips to ensure your plants don’t suffer from abandonment issues and look green and healthy on your return.

Water thoroughly

No matter where you’re leaving your plants, give them a good drink before you go. You can set them on trays or plates or even in the bathtub if you happen to have one.

Fill the trays either directly or by watering the soil to the point that the tray has filled up a good bit. If you use the bathtub method, place all your plants in the middle and fill the tub a couple of inches deep.

Just be careful of which type of pots you’ll be putting in a tray or in the tub. Ceramic and terracotta should be fine – though terracotta may build up a white residue by absorbing water and its minerals, which should be ok short-term and just requires cleaning on your return. With concrete or cement pots or anything hand-painted, however, you’re best to avoid leaving in water. Concrete will absorb water and this can crack the pot, and water may also damage any paints.

A great alternative is an automatic plant waterer

Automatic Plant Waterer

Blumat Classic Automatic Plant WatererThis ingenious watering system is a handy little helper for whenever you’re  away from your plants for a little while, or simply for everyday use. It helps ensure your plants are always getting a proper drink.

We sell one, made by Blumat, for less than a tenner and you can add it when ordering most plants that we sell.

What you get

Our automatic plant waterer is made up of a clay cone and a water feeding tube that’s attached to the cap and gets fixed to the cone.

Which plants is this good for?

Blumat’s automatic watering system is suitable for all plants. You can position the water source at different heights to affect the flow of water, better suiting the type of plant you’re caring for.

How to use your watering system

Blumat Automatic Plant Waterer Installation Instructions
  1. Remove the green cap
  2. Soak clay cone in water for about 15 minutes
  3. Fill the clay cone with water
  4. Press the cap on the completely full clay cone
  5. Insert the cone into the soil near the roots. The clay cone must be completely under the soil.
  6. Place the tube in a water container. Ready!

How does it work?

The system supplies plants with water directly through the porous clay cones. When the surrounding soil is dry, it draws moisture out of the cone. Water is drawn from a nearby reservoir through the tube to keep the cone topped up and ready to consistently water plant.

Water level

For best results water your plant well initially, as you would normally, before inserting the cone into the soil. This will help the soil better draw water from the cone.

Water Level 1

Water level in container same as/slightly lower than cone.
Water is dispensed according to the degree of moisture in the soil. Water is dispensed approx 75ml/24h. Ideal position for most plants.

Water Level 2

Water level in container much lower than cone.
Watering is dispensed according to the degree of moisture in the soil. As the roots need more energy to draw up water, water discharge reduces to approx 50ml/24h. This better suits plants preferring drier soil like succulents and cactus.

Water Level 3

Water level in container higher than cone.
This allows water to flow from the container into the cone. The cone therefore constantly dispenses water even if the soil is moist. This can be up to 150ml/24h. This is better suited to plants that prefer to stay a bit damp, like ferns.

Relocate Indoors

If your plants are in a room that gets lots of light or direct sunlight, close any curtains or move them away from windows or into to a room where light is filtered. Direct sunlight can burn leaves and will dry out soil more quickly, leaving your plant with less nutrients and energy.

If it’s an extended trip you might also consider buying a plant light or ‘grow light’. These can be useful even when you’re not on holiday because they provide light that stimulates growth by emitting a light that helps photosynthesis. There are many types of kits to choose from. With a timer, you can provide the right amount of light appropriate for your plants.

Relocate Outdoors

You can also take your plants outside, which will give them an opportunity to enjoy natural conditions and, potentially, be watered by rain.

A well shaded location, like a patio or deck, is a great location because it provides a more favourable climate and out of direct, harsh sunlight. The south side of the house, naturally well shaded from sun light, can also be a good spot and also tends to be much cooler in summer.

Apart from watering your plants well before you leave, you can also place them on trays that are filled with water to give them a drink for a few days at least. If they receive rain, the a tray or plate will also act as a reserve.

If you don’t have such a spot, only move your plants outdoors  after taking a few things into consideration. Find another place out of direct sunlight, especially late afternoon sunlight (even more so in the summer). Your plants have lived indoors and have gotten used to much kinder, more consistent conditions. Harsher conditions such as hight heat or cold, or heavy wind will come as a bit of shock.

For example, don’t take an indoor plant and place it immediately outside if the temperature is significantly colder or hotter. You may have to train your plant to get used to such a change by taking it out gradually over several days for a few hours at a time, extending a little more each time.

Lotsa plants

Feed Your Plants

Don’t just water your plants and set up water reserves. Give them a feed of appropriate fertiliser. This will help your plants with necessary nutrients, and will give them a good chance of survival if they run out of water before your return home.

Most plants enjoy a feed with fertiliser every couple of weeks during the growing season, so if you’re going away for a week or two during the spring or summer, the (hopefully) usual feeding routine should be enough.

Recruit some help

Sometimes this just isn’t possible, but if there’s a friend or family member you might be lucky enough to call on, they will be a godsend.

You might like to set out a watering and feeding schedule in writing for them. This is especially useful if you’re going to be away for an extended time or if you have any rare or expensive plants you’d prefer to receive some proper plant sitting. Don’t forget a nice souvenir as a big thank you too.

If a trusted friend or relative is not an option, some professional plant sitting services have also begun to emerge and might be worth a call.

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