House Plant Care While Away From Home
Keep your houseplants healthy while you are away from home by ensuring you have a plan in place for their care!
If you are going away for just a few days in the summer time, remove your plants from direct sunlight and water well just before leaving. In the winter months, place pots in the center of a warm room close together. If you turn the heat down, place fragile plants on top of the refrigerator or on top of your deep freeze where they will benefit from the warm air which both appliances emit.
Better care is required if you plan to be gone longer than 3 or 4 days.
A longer absence during the growing season requires more elaborate care and planning.
Up To Two Weeks Absence
If it will be warm in your home (ie summer months, or you will be leaving the heat on, you can care for your plant by watering it thoroughly and putting it into a large transparent plastic bag (available at garden stores). Avoid allowing the plants' foliage to touch the surface of the bag by inserting sticks into the soil. Close and seal the top of the bag with a twist tie. If the plant is really big, place just the pot in the clear plastic bag and tie the top of the bag around the plant stem.
For plants in clay or porous pots, place a large, old bath towel into the bathtub with bricks to hold it down. Run the water until it rises just above the top of the bricks. Place the plants on top of the bricks. The water will seep into the pots' porous surface, naturally acting like a wick to keep the soil moist.
Another method is to lay down several layers of newspaper on top of a plastic dropcloth, or old plastic shower curtain. After placing plants on top of the papers, turn on the shower, completely soaking the plants and newspapers. Next, close the shower curtain, and attach another plastic cloth over the shower curtain rod, taping the other edge to the wall, creating a "greenhouse effect". Keep the bathroom light on.
Plant wicks are useful for pots made of plastic or glass, (these are available at garden stores). Place all plants together in one area. Place individual plant wicks into one large container of water (a large jar or plastic tub works well),and connect the pots to the container via the wicks.
Choosing Low Maintenance Plants
If you are away from home often, it is important to choose plants which are hardy and will not suffer too much from underwatering. Heart-Leaved Philodendrun, for example, can be left unwatered for up to two weeks, and some varieties of corn plants and snake plants can be left for up to a month. Other excellent plants which do not require much water are rubber plants, the aloe vera plant, and the aspidistra, also known as the cast iron plant. Very few flowering plants do well without constant care, unless they are out of bloom and in their resting state.
Whatever method you choose to care for your plants while you are away, remember, it is always best to have someone come by to care for your plants as no plant keeping or storage method is 100 percent perfect during extended absences. Be certain to attach instructions to each individual plant to avoid your well intentioned sitter from killing them with kindness, particularly through overwatering or over fertilization!