Don’t let your trip away be the death of your plants, use our 8 top tips to keep your house plants healthy and happy this summer
Lighten the load
Before leaving, prune off any dead, dying, or unsightly foliage and also remove any buds or flowers, which usually require more frequent watering to maintain their condition.
If you’ll be away for a week or less, giving your plants a good soil-soak before departure should be sufficient. While you shouldn’t regularly overwater plants, this is an exception to the rule. Let any excess water drain so your potted plant isn’t sitting in a saucer of water, which can attract pests or lead to root rot.
Create a living environment
Water your plant thoroughly, then cover with a clear plastic bag to just below the lip of the planter. This creates a makeshift greenhouse and keeps the moisture inside. Make sure to cut a couple of holes in the plastic to allow for ample air circulation – plants need to breathe, too! Use chopsticks or kebab skewers to hold the bag up and away from the foliage.
Reduce water requirements
Re-pot the plant and mix water crystals into the soil. Soak the water crystals in water to expand them before adding them to the soil, otherwise they may push the soil up over the rim of the planter. Water crystals will help the soil stay moist for up to twice as long. They’re available from any major hardware store or garden centre.
Help with humidity
Transport your humidity-loving plants, such as ferns and air plants, to your bathroom (provided there is a window that receives some natural light) or another small room and group them together. The smaller the room, the easier it is for your plants to maintain humidity and moisture. A bath or shower with the curtain or door closed is perfect.
Move your plants away from the windows so they won’t photosynthesise as quickly and thus will require less moisture. We’re not suggesting you move them to a dark corner, but just shifting them a few metres back from a window can significantly reduce their light intake. When you get back, return them to their usual spot.
Phone a friend
If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time and have a friend who’s willing to water your house plants for you, take them up on the offer. Leave your friend with clear plant care instructions, or walk them through your watering schedule a week or two beforehand.
If you occasionally use fertiliser on your house plants, hold off in the weeks prior to your departure and wait until you return. Fertiliser increases the rate of plant growth, and you’ll want your plants to grow as slowly as possible while you’re gone, as this will help them conserve energy and water.
Words by: Ryan McQuerry.