Plants on a shelf

How to look after your plants while you go on holiday (including how to keep them watered)

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Heading off on holiday? Keep your plants happy while you’re away with these simple tips.

After the chaos and uncertainty of the last two years, chances are you’re looking forward to taking a well-deserved break this summer. Whether you’re staying home or taking a trip abroad, spending time exploring and relaxing with friends and family is the perfect way to shake off the stress we’ve all experienced.

Before you head off on your travels, however, there are a few things you’ll want to get in order – including prepping any plants you have around for a week or two on their own. Going on holiday is supposed to be relaxing, and the last thing you want is to have to worry about what state your leafy friends will be in when you get home. 

The good news is that most plants will cope with being left for up to a week without water. However, if you’re going away for an extended period – or you just want to ensure your plants stay looking their best for your return – you’ll want to take some steps to remedy your absence.

This is especially important during the summer, when the weather is warmer and your plants’ soil will likely dry out much quicker than usual

Of course, you could always ask a mate to pop round with a watering can and a misting bottle every so often. But there are also some things you can do before you leave to keep your plants happy while you’re away – and that’s where this article comes in. Beyond giving your plants a good drink before you leave, these tips will ensure your growing season isn’t disrupted by wilted leaves or yellowing foliage

To give you the tools you need to prepare your plants for your departure, we asked Dr Katie Cooper, founder of the online plant shop and subscription service Bloombox Club, for her top tips. Here’s what she had to say. 

Group your plants together

Plants grouped together
Grouping your plants together will enable them to create a microclimate.

If you’ve left your plant prep to the last minute, this is an easy step you can take to give your plants an extra boost while you’re away.

“Having a dense and diverse plant collection is not just good for you; it’s good for your plants too,” Cooper says. “When grouped together, plants can ‘feed’ off one another as they create their own microclimate.”

Make sure to group your plants in a cool area of your home away from direct, bright light, as this will cause their soil to dry out quicker and may even burn their leaves. 

Use a water dispenser (or make your own)

These handy accessories are perhaps the most obvious way to keep your plants watered while you’re away. “Water plugs or dispensers slowly release water into your plant’s soil, so there’s no need to be at home,” Cooper says.  

While you can buy water dispensers from most plant shops, you can also make your own, too. 

Simply grab a bottle (a plastic water bottle will work for small pots, while a wine bottle will work well for larger ones) and fill it with water, and then before you leave, quickly turn it over and plunge it upside down in pre-watered soil.

The water will leak slowly out of the bottle as the soil dries out, keeping your plant nice and hydrated.  

Make your own water wick

A woman watering her plants
Preventing your plants' soil from drying out is important if you want to keep them healthy.

In a similar way to a water dispenser, a water wick will transfer water from a container into the plant’s soil as it dries out.

“Another way to give your plant gradual moisture is to create a water wick using a jar of water and one of the following to pass water into your plant: a piece of cotton, some plastic tubing or a piece of string,” Cooper explains.

“Dip one end of your connector in the water and the other in the soil, and your plant will draw water gradually.” 

Create a DIY greenhouse

Upping the humidity around your plants will stop their soil from drying out as quickly – ideal for when you’re headed off on a trip. 

Grouping your plants (as outlined above) is one way to do this, but another is creating your own DIY greenhouse in your bath – what Cooper calls “the bathtub trick”.

“Step one: put all your plants in the bath, step two: shower your plants with water, and step three: cover them with a plastic sheet to trap humidity,” she says.

“The bathtub trick can keep your plants looking healthy for up to two weeks!”

New to plant parenthood? Check out Stylist’s guide to buying, styling and caring for plants to get started.

You can find out more about the most common houseplant problems by checking out our range of plant care content, too. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.