Whether it's a long weekend away or a month abroad, we're sharing our top four tips for prepping your plants before your spring break departure.
1. Watering: Maintain Moisture
- If you'll be away for a week or less, a good soil-soaking before you leave should be sufficient. While you shouldn't regularly overwater your plants, this is an exception to the rule. Make sure to let your potted plant drain completely before you're on your way - so the soil is soaked but your plants aren't sitting directly in a saucer of water. Dump out any excess water from the saucer, which could attract pests while you're gone.
- If you'll be away for more than a week, there are a couple ways you cam prepare your plant - try one of the tricks below or a combination, depending on the length of your absence and the variety of plant. First give your plant a good soaking, then…
- Add mulch, rocks, or wood chips directly on top of your plant's soil to help hold-in moisture. We've heard damp newspaper can also do the trick.
- Cover the top of your plant down to the lip of the planter with a clear plastic bag, creating a makeshift greenhouse. Cut a couple slits in the plastic to allow for air circulation. Use birch sticks to hold the bag up and way from the foliage. Make sure not to cover the planter's drainage holes - or let the bag rest against the foliage.
- Line a shallow tray with small rocks - and fill the tray with water almost to the top of the rocks but not quite. You don't want the base of your planter to be sitting directly in water, but instead you want it to rest on top the rocks.
- Transport your plants to your bathroom, provided you have a window, or another small room, and group them together. The smaller the room - the easier it is to maintain humidity. No closets though, unless you have a spectacular walk-in with a window!
2. Environment: Tweak Temperature
- The more sun your plant receives, the more thirsty it will be. Most houseplants are likely to wilt if placed in direct sunlight for an extended period of time - especially if there's a lack of water. Because you won't be around to keep a close eye on them, move your plants that are usually kept on a sunny sill to the center of the room, or a spot lit by indirect sunlight, while you're away. This helps to keep the soil from drying out and the leaves from burning. Once you return, you can move your plants back to their usual spot.
3. Health: Please Prune
- Before you leave, make sure to prune off any dead or dying foliage, which can steal nutrients from healthy stems and leaves, and attract pest while you're away. Depending on the houseplant, you can also trim off any buds or flowers, which require more water to stay plump and healthy.
4. Growth: Forgo Fertilizer
- If you use fertilizer regularly, hold off until you return from your trip. You want your plants to grow as slowly as possible while you're gone. FYI, we're not big on fertilizer - especially during the winter when plants are pretty dormant.
P.S. Remember that the tips above do not apply to your drought-tolerate and sun-loving cacti and succulents. So if you are an avid traveler, those are the plants for you! Provided you have the sunlight they require.
Whatever preparation you decide to do, give yourself a big pat on the back when you return to a healthy and happy houseplant. It missed you, too. Have a tip you'd like to share? Comment below or tweet us at @TheSill.
(Photography courtesy of the lovely Sidney Bensimon)