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Holiday Plant Care: How to set up your plants when you go away

Holiday Plant Care: How to set up your plants when you go away

Bye bye plant babies!

Whether you’re off on a multi-day business trip or a month long vacay, us plant parents are faced with the age-old dilemma – what about my plants? After spending months perfecting watering and care routines and committing to the role of plant parent, the thought of leaving your leafy babies is awful!

But, as much as you might consider your Pothos a close personal friend or believe your Monstera would love to catch some poolside rays, the hard truth is – your plants have to stay behind. So, while you're wondering how on earth you’ll survive without your plants, here’s a handy guide to ensure they can survive without you!

How to care for house plants while away for a few days?

1. Give them a good soak!

Most house plants will be fine on their own for shorter trips (3-4 days - hello long weekends!), as long as you give them a really deep soak before you go! Just remember to let them drain fully and make sure there’s no standing water in their drip trays. 

Plants inside a shower


2. Gather and group 

Once they’re soaked and drained, gather up all your house plants and group them together in the bathroom. The shower or bathtub is a great place if they’re still a little drippy. Moving your plants to the bathroom will keep them cool and reduce the amount of water evaporating from the soil (especially during warmer months). 

If you're a real fancy pants, you can wet a few old bath mats or towels and pop them under the pots or cover the topsoil with some wet newspaper or paper towels to keep things moist.

A large white bag of clay balls3. Crank up the humidity!

Plant species such as ferns, peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) and elephant ear plants (Alocasia), don’t like drying out between waterings. To ensure their soil stays moist, you can boost your indoor humidity levels with aqua clay balls

These baked clay pellets (usually used as a growing media or drainage aid for house plants) are also great for ramping up that humidity. 

Simply layer some clay balls in the bottom of a tray, about (2 to 4 cm thick). Thoroughly wet the tray right before you leave, drain any excess water out and place your plants on top! The clay balls will then gradually release moisture into the air and keep your plant babies hydrated. 

How to care for house plants while away for a week or two? 

Going away on vacation for a few weeks? You don’t necessarily have to call in someone to plant sit. If you set up right, your house plants should be fine all by themselves! First, make the same preparations you’d make for a short trip (see above), then it’s time to put some extra systems in place!

1. Wick it, wick it good! 

If you’re going away for a few weeks and want to keep your smaller house plants hydrated, you can set up a wicking system. Trust us! It’s easier than it sounds. Simply find a glass jar or container that’s taller than your plant's pot and fill it with water. 

Grab some cotton wicks or natural twine and place one end in the soil of your plant and the other end in a container of water. 

Or take out all the DIY steps and use our new little WaterWicks! Simply insert them into the bottom of your pot, and make sure the end of the string is sitting in water. 
The water will slowly make its way from the container to your plant, keeping the soil moist while you’re away. Pretty nifty hey? 

Bottom of a plant pot with waterwicks attached

2. Embrace self-watering pots 

Yes, there are such things as self-watering pots and they’re great for medium to large house plants! These innovative pots have an in-built waterwell that can keep your house plants hydrated for up to 2 weeks (providing it's not too hot). At Plants in a Box we absolutely love our self-watering pots. One of our favourites is the Mr Kitly range.

Simply re-pot your house plants into self-watering pots a few weeks before your holiday and give them a top down water to settle the soil. Then all you need to do before you go is fill up the waterwell with water. It’s that simple! Your plants will then wick up water from their wells when needed. 

A woman holding a plant in a pot3. Let it shine!

While your plant can go without natural light for a few days, if you’re going away for a week or more you need to make sure your house plants have some form of natural light. If your bathroom doesn’t have enough light consider moving your plants to your kitchen or laundry!

A large healthy indoor plant growing in a pot

How to care for house plants while away for 2 weeks to a month?

So you’re leaving for 2 weeks or more? Okay now it’s time to call on that reliable friend or neighbour! You’re gunna need someone to help keep your house plants happy and hydrated. 

Yes I know what you’re thinking. But they don’t know the routine! Luckily there are some fool proof devices that can tell your plant sitter when your plants need watering. 

1. Trust in Sustee!

Sustee is a fail-proof water checker that tells you exactly when it’s watering time! Simply pop the Sustee stick into the soil of your house plant to the level indicated. Next water your plant and wait 10-15 minutes for your Sustee to absorb water at root level, just like your plant!

As the device sucks up water it will change colour, from white to blue. Your plant sitter will know when it’s time to water again when your Sustee changes back to white. Honestly, it’s a game changer! You can shop the full Sustee range here.

2 white Sustees on a table next to a packet of 2 Sustee refills

2. Say Elho to my little friend 

Elho self-watering pots are not only equipped with a recycled self-watering insert, but also a watering indicator. Similar to the Sustee, this water checker will tell your plant sitter exactly when it’s time to water. 

This super cute water meter has a little plant inside which grows taller as you water your plant! As your house plant sucks up water from the insert, the plant in the indicator will shrink back down and once it’s right at the bottom, it’s time to water! What did we tell you – fool proof! 

A pot for a plant with a water indicating device built in

What about my outdoor plants? 

Your outdoor plant prep totally depends on what plants you have in your garden and how long you’re going away for. If you’re going away for a few days, your outdoor babies will be totally fine if you give them a big water before you leave. In fact, in the cooler months, most plants will be fine for up to a week, as long as they get a decent drenching beforehand.

As we said before, you’re leaving for more than 2 weeks, then it’s time to call in that favourite friend or neighbour! As a rough guide, they will only need to water your garden every couple of weeks in winter, and weekly during summer. 

Trusty Sustee 

If you have any potted plants outdoors, make sure you move them undercover and ask your friend or neighbour to water them once a week. If you want a fool proof solution, pop a Sustee in each one of your potted plants and ask your plant sitter to only water when the Sustee is displaying white! They work just the same on outdoor potted plants.

A close up view of white and green sustees


Automatic, systematic! 

If you have thirsty babies (such as herbs, vegetable crops or flowering plants), they may need to water them every 1-2 days, depending on how hot it is! If that’s the case you may need to bribe your plant sitter with some chocolate or wine, or better yet, set up an automatic watering system

Check out our range of Hoselink hoses and accessories. With a Hoselink hose reel, mini sprinkler kit and automatic tap timer, you can create your very own automatic sprinkler system!

An outside tap with an automatic timing mechanism attached

Time to say goodbye 

Okay, so now you know how to set up your plants before go away, it’s time to say adieu. Blow your babies a kiss, tell them to behave and go and getaway! 


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