Tips to Water Plants While You are on a Vacation

The very thought of a vacation could be a cause of worry for those avid gardeners who have no one to water their plants in their absence. While two to three days without water may not cause damage to most plants, a longer duration would affect them detrimentally. It is also not possible to water them well in advance. In such cases, you may either go for some plant watering aids from garden stores, or try some DIY ideas. So, all you have to do is to adopt any of these methods or get some ready-made devices, so that you can find your plants hale and hearty, when you return from a vacation. Go through this Buzzle article for a brief overview of the same.

DIY Watering Systems

Bottle Method 1
This is one of the simplest methods to ensure that your plants get enough water while you are on vacation. Take a plastic bottle, and make a tiny hole through its base. Fill the bottle with water, and place it on the soil just besides the plant. The base of the bottle must be slightly below the soil surface. Now, water the soil thoroughly. The water will drip from the bottle, as and when the moisture level of the soil drops.

Bottle Method 2
Take an empty beer bottle; clean and fill with water. Water the soil thoroughly. Now close the opening of the bottle with your hand, and flip it upside down. Insert the bottle into the soil (with its neck down) at an angle. Do this fast, so as to reduce the amount of spillage. As in the first method, water will flow from the bottle to the soil, in a gradual manner. If the plant is big, you may use two bottles.

Absorbent Threads

This method uses the capillary action of water to provide moisture for plants. Take a container filled with water. Place it on a slightly elevated area besides the plants that are to be watered. Take some absorbent strings (even shoelaces will do), and tie them to a small, heavy object. Put that object inside the container so that it holds the threads in place.
Now, use a screwdriver to poke holes near the plants. The holes must have a minimum depth of three to four inches. The other end of each string must be inserted inside the hole. The strings will wick water from the container to the soil.

Mulch

A thick layer of mulch will reduce the amount of water lost from the soil. So water the soil well, before covering the surface area with mulch. However, make sure that the mulch layer is of normal thickness. However, an unusually thick layer of mulch may cause harm to the plant. You may also use newspapers soaked in water for mulching. This method is not suitable for a period of more than four to five days.
Water Tray
If you have a big, shallow tray that can hold several pots, make use of it. Spread some pebbles or small stones on the tray. Fill the tray with water, till the pebbles are completely immersed. Place the plant pots on the tray.

Plastic Bag

Water the plants thoroughly. Now, place a clear plastic bag over the plant, and secure the ends of the bag to the rim of the pot using a rubber band. You may insert some bamboo stakes in the soil so that the foliage of the plant does not touch the plastic bag. This set up works like a miniature greenhouse, as the plastic bag traps moisture inside but allows movement of air. Make sure that the plants are not kept in direct sunlight. Shift them to a location with some indirect light.
These are some of the simple ways to water your plants while you are away on vacation. If you have extra empty pots, add some soil into them and water thoroughly. Place potted plants inside them. Instead of soil, damp newspaper or sponge may also work. You may also try covering the plant pots with damp towels. If you find these methods time-consuming, you may opt for devices and gadgets that are readily available in garden stores.

Store-bought Watering Devices

Capillary Mat
Made of absorbent fabric, the capillary mat holds moisture which, in turn, can be taken up by the plants. If you are going for a long vacation, spread this mat inside the bathtub, and turn on the faucet till water trickles drop by drop. Make sure that the drain is open. Now place the potted plants on the mat.

Aqua Globe
This instrument is nothing but a glass bulb with an attached tail. All you need to do is to fill water in it and push the tail into the soil near the plant. When the moisture level of the soil reduces, water will drain slowly from the globe to the soil. These instruments are available in different sizes, from which you can choose the right one as per the size of the plant and the duration of your vacation.

Terracotta Plant Waterer
This conical, hollow, terracotta spike (like an ice cream cone with a hole at the bottom) has an open end to insert a bottle filled with water. The other end with a pointed tip has very small holes. Clean an empty wine bottle and fill with water. Place the cone over the top of the bottle. Now tip the bottle upside down, along with the cone. Insert the tip of cone into the soil, at an angle. Water will seep into the soil through the pores in the terracotta and the small holes provided in the tip.

Drip Irrigation
Get an inexpensive drip irrigation kit for watering plants while you are on vacation. However, you must attach a timer to the spigot so that you can choose the time and amount of watering.

Soaker Hose

These hoses can be used to keep the soil moist for a long duration. They have tiny weep holes, through which water seeps into the soil in very small amounts. You can keep the hoses beneath the soil or mulch. In this case too, you have to attach a timer to regulate watering. Another option is to keep the faucet open, just enough that it drips water.

Time-release Water Products
Various products are now available for time-released irrigation. These products contain biodegradable materials with water in the gel form. Water is released, as and when the gel comes into contact with the soil. Water the soil thoroughly, before placing the gel. The amount of gel must be in accordance with the size of the pot.
In short, watering plants in your absence is no longer a cause of concern. You can use DIY mechanisms or ready-made
devices for the same. Otherwise, hire a garden sitter, who will take care of the plants, while you are away. Find out if any of your friends or neighbors are ready to help you out.