Whether you’re looking to preserve your garden ideas or you’re more of an indoor plant enthusiast, the problem of how to keep them healthy remains the same. However, there are some solutions that will ensure your blooms continue to flourish while you’re away from home, and expert advice on when to water plants.

How to water plants while on vacation – 5 tips that work indoors and outdoors 

Going away doesn’t mean you need to neglect your best indoor plants or your garden. Here’s how to water plants while on vacation, according to the experts.

1. Use ceramic watering stakes 

Brody Hall, a Certified Horticulturist and Co-Founder at The Indoor Nursery (opens in new tab), explains there are two types of ceramic watering stakes that allow you to water your plants while on vacation.  ‘The first type allows wine bottles filled with water to be inserted directly into the top of the stakes. Slowly over time, the water from the wine bottle percolates through the ceramic stake, watering the plant,’ he says.  Alternatively, the second method has a plastic tube that inserts into the top of the stake. ‘The tubing is inserted into a container of water and slowly siphons water from the container, percolates through the ceramic material, and into the plant’s growing medium,’ the Horticulturist says.  

2. Find a new use for your liquor bottles 

When you’re clearing up the residue from your next garden party, it might be worth holding onto a few bottles. Whether you choose liquor, beer, or wine as your tipple, you can find a new use for your bottles the next time you’re on vacation – but how does this unconventional method work?  ‘You can use these bottles to water indoor plants by filling the bottle with water and then placing it in the soil of the plant,’ Brody explains. ‘Fill the bottle full with water, dig a hole with your finger wide enough for the neck of the bottle, and insert with the bottleneck facing downward into the soil. The water will slowly release into the soil and help to keep the plant hydrated.’ However, while this method is a quick and effective solution, the expert warns that it is better suited for shorter vacations. ‘The bottles will release water faster than the ceramic watering stakes. This makes it less suitable for vacations longer than a week,’ he explains.  

3. Use a plastic covering

For both indoor and outdoor situated potted plants, Brody suggests using a plastic covering that will keep the humidity levels high. This will help to insulate the plants so that they don’t lose moisture as quickly. ‘Instead of covering the entire plant and risk encouraging the infection of molds and mildews, the best approach is to lay down dampened mulch around the base of the plant then cover it with a dark plastic bag,’ he says.  When protecting your container gardening ideas, the expert similarly suggests that a large bin bag will also work well. He recommends tucking the bag in around the edges, between the potting soil and the sides of the pot for the best results. 

4. Experiment with mulching 

If you’re wondering how to water your plants while on vacation, then mulch may be a simple solution.  ‘Mulch helps to retain moisture and limits evaporation. For indoor plants, mulching with sphagnum moss, coconut coir, or even decorative stones or pebbles works well,’ the Horticulturist says.  Meanwhile, for outdoor potted plants or garden bed ideas, it is best to opt for something that will survive harsher conditions like strong winds and sun. ‘The best options are pea straw, sugarcane, or bark mulch,’ he adds. 

5. Invest in a self-watering system 

If you’re planning on traveling for a more significant amount of time, or you’re a frequent flyer, it may be better to invest in a self-watering system.  The system that works by slowly releasing water into the soil over a period of time is among the best ways to water your outdoor plants while you’re away – expert Rodger St. Hilaire from Gardening Boost (opens in new tab) suggests.  ‘If you don’t want to buy a self-watering system, you can use a water timer attached to your hose. This will automatically turn the water on and off, so you don’t have to worry about it.’