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How to keep plants alive while on vacation

Dead plant
Dead plant because of bad watering


Keeping indoor plants alive while on vacation is always a challenge. Whether you’ve got 2 plants or 200, we will show you how to water your plants while you’re away. 

Here are our best tips to keep your plants alive:

Ask your neighbors or friends to come water your plants – and teach them how! 

Do you have a good relationship with your neighbors? Asking them for help is the easiest and safest way to handle your plants while you’re away. If you have to leave your plants to go on vacation, you have to leave them with someone you trust, who can easily come by. To make their job easier, gather all your indoor plants in the same room.  If you have daylight in your bathroom, that’s the perfect spot. Gather all your plants in your bathtub or shower for easy watering. Avoid putting your plants in direct sunlight while you’re gone, so the water doesn’t evaporate as fast.

It’s also very important that your neighbour knows exactly how much water to give to each plant, and how often. Unless they already have a lot of experience with plants, it’s better to be very specific. Leave a note for each pot, with the exact amount of water to use, and the best watering frequency for that plant.  

Did you know that the number 1 reason plants die is overwatering? Let’s hope that your neighbor is not too generous… Maybe your neighbor isn’t great with plants, but still willing to help, In that case, go for a foolproof system, using a visual watering meter. Have you ever heard about the Sustee watering checker? It’s a little stick you leave in the soil of your plant. It has a little window on top that changes color when your plant is thirsty. If it’s blue, your plant has enough water, but if it turns white, it’s time to water it. Easy, right? You will need 1 Sustee in each plant. 

Sustee is a watering checker that helps you to know if your plant has enough water or not

Use an automatic watering system

If you don’t have any friends or neighbors you can count on, you can also consider an automatic watering system. It’s usually used for outdoor plants, but the technique works for any pot. It’s based on a water pipe connected to little drip feeders and, usually, an automatic timer. You’ll need to add a drip feeder to each pot and adjust the flow of the dripper to the needs of each plant. This irrigation system also works if you leave for a longer period. It might be the best solution if you are wondering how to water your plants while on vacation for a month. You’ll need an outside connection for the water hose, and you’ll need to leave the water on while you’re away. For peace of mind, it might be a good idea to ask a friend to come and check from time to time. You don’t want to come back from holidays to a flooded house and a huge water bill.

Automatic watering system
Drip irrigation system for outdoor plants watering

Create a water-wicking system with string or rope

If you would like to create your own DIY to know how to keep plants alive when traveling, you can try this easy method. The only things that you need are a water container and some cotton rope. Fill your water container with some water and put it next to your plant or under the plant. Take the cotton rope and drive it in the soil. Don’t push it in too deep to avoid disturbing the roots. Put the other end of the rope in your water container. The water will travel along the rope to the roots of your plants, like magic! Okay, it’s not called magic, but capillary action. Either way, it’s very easy to set up and very effective.

This system is very inexpensive, and will keep your plants from dying while you’re on vacation.

Self watering system for plants with a rope
Plants with a self-watering system using a rope and a glass of water


Set your plants up to grow in water, also called hydroculture or hydroponics

Hydroculture is a method used to grow plants in water. With hydroculture, you can grow new plants from cuttings in the water and keep them growing forever. It’s a very low-maintenance way to grow plants. As long as there’s water in the container, it will keep your plants alive when you leave. A good tool for the job is a germination plate. It keeps your plant dry above the water, while the roots grow directly in the water below. It works for many kinds of plants and seeds, including cactus and succulents plants. You’ll never give too much or too little water to your plants. The roots will use the quantity they need on their own, from the water reservoir. If you want to know more about how to grow plants in water, click here.

Grow any plant with our beautifully designed germination plate. Elevate your plant life!

Use LECA instead of soil

LECA (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate) are little clay balls that soak up the water, that you can buy at every garden center. You can use them instead of soil for your houseplants. The roots grow between the clay beads and suck up water from the porous clay. This method is often used on office plants so that maintenance is easier and watering is less frequent. This method is ideal if you’re wondering how to keep your plants watered while you’re on holiday.

LECA with growing roots
Healthy roots growing in LECA

Create a DIY Drip system with recycled bottles

Are you crafty? Then this method is for you. You’ll need an empty plastic bottle for each plant pot. Drill a few small holes at the top of the bottle and fill the bottle with water. Turn it over quickly and plunge it into the soil. The holes need to be covered by the soil and the bottle shouldn’t be too close to the plant. When the soil will be dry, the water will slowly come out through the small holes. It’s not very pretty, but you won’t have to look at it while you’re away. Try it yourself! Not great at DIY? There are hundreds of commercial products available that achieve the same result.

Plant watering automation system with a plastic bottle
DIY plant watering automation system with a plastic bottle

Give your plants a bath, or head to the shower!

If your plants are in a pot with a drainage hole, just give them a bath! This method is best for a short vacation when you’re away for only a week or two.

Fill up your bathtub or large container with a few centimeters of water. Put your potted plants in the water. They will drink the water as needed through the drainage hole. This solution is a good way to water your plants when you go on vacation for a week! Plants need light, so don’t do this if there’s no natural light in your bathroom. In that case, you could use a large plastic storage bin instead of a bathtub.

Houseplants in a bath
Watering indoor plants in the bath

Seal the moisture in. Build a temporary greenhouse with plastic bags.

If you want to water less often, you have to keep the moisture in your pot. Create a mini-greenhouse around each plant, to slow evaporation. This is how to take care of your plant while you’re on vacation.

Take a big plastic bag that will cover your plant. The bag must be big enough to cover your plant and its pot entirely. Before you place your plant into the bag, just water your plants as you usually do. Make sure the leaves don’t touch the plastic, or they will rot when condensation forms inside the bag. Keep the plastic away by using sticks in the soil (chopsticks, plant stakes etc…).

Mini-greenhouse with plastic bags
Create your own mini-greenhouse for your plants using plastic bags

Use an olla (traditional terracotta irrigation pot), here’s how to make one.

Ollas are traditional terracotta pots that are used as an autonomous watering system. They are buried in the ground next to your plant. You fill the pot with water, and it will slowly be released into the soil through the porous terracotta walls. If you don’t have one, you can try to make your own DIY version. Take a normal terracotta pot and plug the hole (for example, with a cork). Bury the pot in the soil next to your plants. The opening of the pot should not be covered and should be at the same height as the surface of the soil. Fill the pot with water and add a lid to prevent evaporation and mosquitoes. The roots of your plant are going to grow in the direction of the pot and absorb the water they need.  You can also create a fancier version by gluing two pots together like this.

It’s a nice solution to water plants while on vacation.

Filling an Olla pot with water
Traditional olla pot buried in the soil. Once filled with water, it will slowly release the moisture to the plant roots.

Hopefully one of these solutions will be the perfect one for your situation and your plants. Enjoy this well-earned vacation! And if all else fails, there are now services you can hire to water your plants, just like dog-sitters for your leafy friends.

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