7 sure fire methods to watering houseplants while on holiday

Planning your retreat to sun, sand and relaxation! But wait, you have indoor plants. The good news is that your indoor plants don’t need constant care and it is perfectly fine to leave them on their own while you are away. Let’s explore our 7 sure fire tips to watering houseplants while on holidays!


watering houseplants while on holiday

It’s vacation time! Time to head off to a remote tropical island, ski the highest peaks or explore a jungle of a different type. Or perhaps, you just have to travel for your work.

But before you ditch the watering can, pack your suitcase and board your plane, you need to figure out how to water houseplants while on holiday. Afterall, you have taken such good care of their needs – watering, fertilizing, trimming and otherwise tending to their needs. It would be awful to return to withered, dried out indoor plants.

The good news is that your indoor plants don’t need constant care and it is perfectly fine to leave them on their own while you are away.

We have compiled 7 sure fire methods for watering houseplants while on holiday. So, before you leave let’s do is a little reading and planning.

And better still, you can trial these self-watering methods while you are still at home to prove to yourself that they work. Builds confidence and takes all the worry!

Read through all of the watering houseplants while on holiday methods or use the table below to jump to a specific self-watering method you’d like to learn more about:

Ask a friend/neighbour

Ask a friend or neighbour to come over once a week while you are away. Better yet, if you form a group or co-op of plant friendly friends, you can each do this favor for each other.

However, don’t assume that your friend or neighbour understands your plant watering routine. Help them out by leaving specific instructions on how often and how much water to give to each plant.

Grouping plants that have similar watering needs will also help your friend with their assignment.

Your house or apartment might heat up a little more when locked up, and your indoor plants might drink more water during this time. You might need to ask your friend to water more frequently than usual. Remember to move any of your indoor plants that are in a full sun position, even if for only part of the day, into an indirect sun position.

Proslow cost, can be tailored to your specific requirements, added security of having someone visit your home
Conseffort in preparing instructions, potential impact on friendship
Best forlots of plants
Durationas long as your friend or neighbour is willing

Let’s be honest! If you feel like returning home to the sight of withering or dead plants might erode your friendship – perhaps not the best method!

Plastic bag greenhouse

Out of all of the methods, this is the one of my favourites. It is easy to set up, low cost and sustainable for a short or longer period of time. Set up correctly, your trusty plastic bag greenhouse will keep your indoor plants happy for quite a few months.

Ok, first things first. Once the plastic bag greenhouse is set up, it can’t be moved. So, it’s vitally important that you select a suitable position that is:

  • convenient
  • preferably on waterproof flooring
  • will stay at moderate temperatures (cool in summer and warm in winter)
  • not in direct sunlight.

Also, make sure you have watered your indoor plants and allowed them to drain before you put them in the plastic bag greenhouse.

Find a plastic bag large enough to cover your plants with plenty of bag left over. This will make sense once you get started. The bags need to be clear, light coloured or white opaque plastic bags. Black bags or darker colors will result in less light getting to your indoor plant and it becoming unhealthy.

Open your chosen bag so that the bottom is exposed and flat on the floor.

Carefully spread a moist towel inside the garbage bag on the bottom. This will prevent the garbage bag from tearing but will also provide a platform for your plants to sit on.

Place your chosen indoor plants on the moist towel. I place the tallest ones in the centre and then the other plants around this one.

The next step is to carefully pull the sides of the bag up and over the plants. If you want, you can also use garden stakes or a trellis to hold the plastic bag up as well. But be careful to make sure that the bag is not pierced.

Puff out the bag as much as possible by blowing air into the bag in the same way that you would blow up a balloon. Once inflated, twist the top of the plastic bag around to form a seal and secure with a rubber band.

Fold this section over and wrap it with another rubber band. This will help form a nice airtight seal. Don’t worry if your bag is a little saggy, it doesn’t have to be fully inflated like a balloon.

And, you are done.

For small plants, you can place each plant in a sealed plastic zip lock bag in the same way.

So, how does the plastic bag greenhouse work?

The indoor plants inside release water from their leaves. This water evaporates, then forms droplets on the inside of the plastic bag with these droplets eventually dripping back onto your indoor plants and/or the soil. Pretty cool?

Proslow cost, simple to set up
Conscan’t be moved once set up
Best formost houseplants but not succulents or cacti
Durationup to a couple of months

Self-watering pots

When it comes to watering indoor plants, self-watering pots are extremely convenient and a blessing when you want to go on holiday.

These pots feature a water reservoir at the base that your plant can ‘drink’ from. With self-watering pots, you just fill the water reservoir and keep it filled. How long your indoor plant can last without the reservoir being refilled, depends on its water needs and the size of the reservoir.

Of course, your indoor plants need to be potted in self-watering pots before you go away. There is an initial increased investment in the pots so you need to have pre-thought about watering your houseplants while on holidays. More importantly, you should never repot your indoor plants just before you leave on a holiday.

Prosthese pots are great for beginners because it is hard to over or under water your plant, simple
Consupfront investment
Best forbeginners, plants that don’t drink a lot
Durationdepends on how much your plants drink and the size of the water reservoir

Plant saucer

The plant saucer method is one of the simplest methods but not a sustainable method for watering houseplants while on holidays. This method is only suitable for a day or two, three at a push. Any longer and either the water will run out or your plant will develop root root.

The plant saucer method requires that your plant is potted in a pot with drainage holes and has a saucer that collects the excess water.

If you have pebbles in the saucer you will need to remove these before using this method because the excess water needs to soak through the drainage holes and into the soil.

Water your plant as normal and allow to drain. Then just before you leave on your holiday fill the saucer underneath your plant with water. Essentially, you are providing enough water for your plant to drink in the next few days.

Now I know some of you might think – the deeper the saucer, the more water and the longer I can leave my plant. No! Most plants do not like their roots sitting in water. Worse yet, this leads to root rot. So, if you are going away for longer, choose another method.

And, remember to remove any excess water from the saucer on your return.

Prossimple, low/no cost
Consvery short duration
Best formost plants
Duration1 – 3 days

Plant bath

This method is essentially the same as the plant saucer method and has the same limitations. Although it allows many plants to be placed in your bathtub, it is only a short-term approach and the amount of light (or lack of it) in your bathroom may also be an issue.

Instead of filling a plant saucer, fill your bathtub or a sink with an inch or couple of centimetres of water. Protect your bathtub or sink from scratches by laying a towel over the bottom. Then, place your indoor plants in the bathtub or sink.

Again, make sure your indoor plants are in pots with drainage holes so the water can soak through the soil.

Remember to remove your indoor plants from the bathtub on your return.

Prossimple, low/no cost
Consvery short duration
Best formost plants, not suitable for succulents and cacti
Durationcouple of a days to a week

Water wicking system

The water wicking method works for watering houseplants while on holidays by linking your indoor plants to a water reservoir using an absorbent wick. This is a fantastic self-watering system if you are going away for a longer period of time and have many indoor plants.

The whole system is simple to set up and can be built using common everyday items.

The water reservoir – the container that will hold the water for your plants – can be a bucket, old bottles or bowls.

While the wicks – the material that connects your indoor plant to the reservoir and transfers the water – can be thick cotton yarn, cotton string, cotton rope or even strips of an old cotton t-shirt for the wicks.

Choose a water reservoir container that is large enough to cater for the needs of your indoor plants. Remember, the more water you can store in the water reservoir, the longer your plants can survive without you.

Water your indoor plants as normal and allow them to drain.

Choose a location for your water reservoir. A single water reservoir can be used for many indoor plants.

Now you need to move your indoor plants into a space near the water reservoir.

We are going to create a system of wicks from each indoor plant to the water reservoir made out of your wicking material.

Place one end of the wick into the water, make sure it reaches the bottom of the reservoir so that as the water level decreases the wick remains in the water.

Push the other end of the wick into your indoor plant’s soil and make sure it is covered with soil. You need to push it a couple of inches or about 10 centimetres deep.

As your plant’s soil starts to dry out, water will ‘wick’ or travel from the water reservoir to your indoor plant and keep your plant watered.

Isn’t science cool?

Prossimple, low/no cost, can be used for multiple and/or large indoor plants
Consneed to move your indoor plants into one location to use
Best formost plants
Duration1 – 3 weeks

Plastic bottle

The plastic bottle method works by slowly releasing water from a bottle into your plant’s soil. Although this method does not last very long, it is one of the easiest methods to set up. It is also a great way to reuse plastic bottles.

Water your indoor plant normally and allow to drain.

Choose a plastic water bottle and clean thoroughly. I like to use a large 1 or 2 litre bottle.

Using a nail and hammer, carefully punch a couple of holes in the sides and bottom of the bottle.

This is where you will need to experiment a little. The number of holes will determine the rate at which the water will drip from the bottle. Generally, 3 to 6 holes seems to work for most plants.

Fill the bottle and screw the cap back on.

Then, push the bottle into the soil, preferable all the way but a couple of inches (10 centimetres) will do the job as long as the holes in the bottle are below the soil level.
Refill the bottle just before you leave, and you are done!

Along the same lines, you can make a smaller and simpler drip system, by using a snap seal or zip lock bag in the same way – punch a couple of small holes in the bag, fill and seal the bag and then position it on top of your indoor plant’s soil. Obviously, this set up will only last a day or so because the bag is much smaller.

Prossimple, low/no cost
Consneed to work out the optimum flow rate from the bottle
Best formost plants
Duration1 – 4 days

5 genius ways of watering houseplants while on holidays

Want to see how a couple of these methods work? How they are set up? Watch this simple YouTube video called 5 Genius Ways to Water Your Plants When You are Away on Vacation by Jaw Dropping Facts. It not only covers our preferred methods but covers few extra ones as well.

Low Maintenance Plants

Think the hassle and worry of watering houseplants while on holidays is not worth it? That’s ok. You can populate your indoor garden with low maintenance plants. These indoor plants will continue to thrive with little or no attention. So even if you have less than green thumbs and very little time to dedicate to indoor gardening you can consider these:

  • Air Plants
  • Anthuriums
  • Bamboo
  • Bromeliads
  • Jade Plant or Money Tree
  • Orchids
  • Peace Lily
  • Pothos 
  • Cacti
  • Succulents

Final thoughts

Realistically, if you have got into a good routine of watering your indoor plants, they will last for a couple of days, some even a week, on their own. You can simply give your indoor plants a good soaking, allow them to drain, move them out of sunny or hot positions and then you can leave knowing they will be ok.

But if you are not confident or want extra assurance that your indoor plants will survive the break, try out one of our sure fire methods for watering houseplants while on holidays.
Whichever method you choose, set it up and trial it before you leave on your holiday. Observing how the method works (and potentially adapting it slightly) is the best way to leave on holidays confident that your indoor plants will survive.

Now, you can finally relax and not worry about watering houseplants while on holidays.

Make sure you check out our other indoor gardening blog posts.

Remember, life is better with indoor plants!


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