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How to Take Care of Plants While on Vacation

Looking for ways to keep your plants alive while spending time away from home? Learn how to take care of plants while on vacation with these simple tips.

With summer fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about how your gardens, no matter how big or small, will be cared for while you are out of town.

From houseplants to flowers and vegetable gardens, to container garden care, there are few things we can do to ensure plant survival while we are away.

Because I’ve mostly gardened with native plants, my gardens are used to whatever elements are thrown their way with very little care.

It’s one of the reasons I love to garden with native plants.

They are just easier.

But, I also have houseplants, annuals, vegetables and seedlings that need a bit more care.

So it’s important to plan ahead to make sure all the hard work we’ve put in with our plants survive a weekend or more of us away.

Most of my gardens around the property are self-sufficient and don’t need much care to thrive while I’m away.

However, my container gardens, houseplants, seedlings, and annuals need more care than that.

And they are mixed in all over my property.

Here’s how to take care of plants and keep plants alive while away on vacation.

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The Secret to Keeping Houseplants Alive

How to Take Care of Plants While On Vacation

No matter how big or small your garden is, ask someone to care for or look in on your plants for you.

Of course no one will care for your garden like you do, but with a little coaching, they will do a great job so you can enjoy your trip.

Even if you have an irrigation system, it’s still wise to ask someone to check in on them to make sure everything is working property while you are away.

Before explaining how to take care of plants while on vacation, it’s important to fully understand basic plant care as well as how to care for container gardens.

Because if we don’t understand the basics, it’s going to be difficult explaining what our plants need to someone else.

Watering Day for Houseplants

The most important thing is not to overwater or underwater because either can stress or kill your plants.

And it’s an easy mistake to make.

Irrigation systems on timers are great time savers and can do a lot for you.

How to Take Care of Plants While on Vacation

But if it rains, it’s cool out, and/or plants don’t need to be watered, you could be doing more harm than good to your gardens.

So you may need to adjust the watering schedule accordingly.

Here are tips to help avoid overwatering plants both inside and outside your home.

While much of my plant care blogs focus on houseplants, the general principles are the same.

Shed Garden at Sunrise in May

What to Do Before You Leave for Vacation

  • Do some basic garden and plant maintenance. Harvest ripe vegetables, deadhead spent flowers, weed, and clean up garden debris.
  • In general, give plants a good watering before you leave to ensure they get a good drink of water. Keep in mind some plants may need less water than others so take that into consideration when watering (or not watering). And depending on the size of your garden, take notes for your caretaker.
My Thrift Store Vintage Finds for the Garden

Vegetable Garden Care

Before leaving for vacation, explain to caretakers how to water plants and harvest vegetables that are ready. (see tips below)

It’s really important to site gardens in locations where it will not only be easy for you to care for, but for caretakers as well.

I made the mistake of not siting my vegetable garden in the best place several years ago.

Before redoing my vegetable garden last year, it was not close to a water source.

Which is a big no no. At the time, I had little options to site a vegetable garden in the ground so we were limited and I started that garden far away from a water source.

And since we did not have an irrigation system, watering that vegetable garden was not easy.

It’s one of the reasons I wanted to to move it to the center of the backyard so it was closer to the hose.

self-watering raised garden bed

And these self-watering raised garden beds were a huge help for three reasons.

For starters, they are self-watering so they hold water in reservoirs below the root system and dispense water to the roots as needed.

But second, because we used raised garden beds, we were able to site them in an area of the yard where we could not plant a garden in the ground (on a septic bed).

And three, this location was MUCH closer to a water source making it easier to fill the reservoirs.

So now, these beds are less work for my garden caretaker because I’ll fill the reservoirs before we leave and the beds will take care of themselves.

I mean, how easy is that!

Self-Watering Raised Garden Bed

Tips for Vegetable Garden Caretakers

  • Focus on watering roots instead of the plant foliage to help prevent pests and disease.
  • Describe how long to water each plant or container because “watering” is subjective. I typically ask caretakers to water 10 seconds per area.
  • Ask caretakers to water plants as early as possible in the day so they can dry out before nighttime. Watering later in the day or evening hours promotes pests and disease problems because it gets dark and the temps cool down.
  • Ask caretakers to harvest any ripened fruits or vegetables so that they don’t rot or get eaten by pests while away.
How to Take Care of Plants While On Vacation

Container Garden Care Tips for the Vacationer

Whether you have houseplants, annuals, or vegetables in containers, here are some tips to help keep them happy while you are on vacation.

  • Pull all of the sun-loving containers out of the sun so they do not dry out as quickly while you are away.
  • Group outdoor planters together into one area so it is easier for the caretaker to water.
  • Since “watering” is subjective, ask caretakers to water 10 seconds per pot.
  • Water planters the day you are leaving to ensure they get watered well.
  • If containers are indoors, check thermostats and set the temperature to range between 65-75 degrees F and not fall below 55 degrees. Extreme coldness or hotness can stress or kill plants so keep them comfortable while you are gone.
  • When indoors, keep plants away from air vents, sunny and drafty windows.
  • Or invest in a drip irrigation system like this one and run drip lines to containers. But keep in mind watering needs and group plants with similar needs on the same drip line.
  • Before watering containers, check for dryness using THIS METHOD.
Outdoor Living Space Home Tour

Young Seedling Care

Since I started seeds indoors and have recently planted them, seedlings require more care during hot dry spells while we are away, particularly while establishing themselves.

Much like annuals, they need to be watered and cared for regularly.

And some seedlings will need to be staked or pinched back as they grow.

Take care of any staking or pinching back before you leave if those seedlings need it because they can grow quickly while you are gone.

As for watering needs, seedlings may require more coddling while they establish themselves and grow.

How to Plant a Garden After Starting Seeds Indoors

They will need a proper balance of staying hydrated without overwatering.

Understanding their needs as your climate changes is very important, or you could lose them.

So be cognizant of the weather and their needs as they establish and mature into stronger plants.

Daffodils at sunset

How to Water Gardens When You Don’t Have an Irrigation System

My gardens are quite extensive.

But a large majority of the beds are native plants, trees, and shrubs so they pretty much take care of themselves and have not needed an irrigation system.

Lately, I’ve been tucking in more annuals and seedlings around the property.

How to Plant Flowers in a Window Box Planter

And they need more care.

Since we do not have an irrigation system set up, manual care is necessary.

For the larger cut flower garden in front of the garden shed, I set up a sprinkler system that can be turned on and off.

Not the best or most efficient way to water, but it will get the job done.

And as long as they water earlier in the day, the gardens will do fine.

In other areas of my gardens, I ran these soaker hoses around plants that will need the extra help during the growing season when it does not rain.

How to Take Care of Plants While on Vacation

Tips for Caring for Flower Gardens While Away on Vacation

  • Look ahead that the weather. Is it going to rain? Will it be hot? Will it be cooler? These considerations will help give more explicit instructions to caretakers while you are away.
  • If it’s going to be hot and humid with no rain, water daily in the mornings.
  • If it’s going to be cooler with no rain, instructions will depend specifically on your climate and type of plants.
lilac in the backyard

Returning from Vacation

When returning from vacation, walk the beds, check your containers and houseplants to see how everything held up while you were gone.

Doing so is important because it will alert you to issues early on that arose while away.

Front Yard Cottage Garden

What Do You Do If Plants Look Like They Are Dying

If you went on vacation and your plants are looking less than stellar, you can try reviving them.

I’ve seen plants almost completely dried up, brown and devoid of life, bounce back after spending the time to rehab them.

While not all plants bounce back, some will do better than others.

At that point, what have you go to lose?

Thanks so much for following along.

I hope you have a great trip!

Early Spring in the Garden

More Houseplant Care Tips and Tricks

Looking for houseplant tips, tricks, and inspiration?

Check out these posts to keep plants happy and healthy.

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Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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  1. Great ideas. I find even if it rains, the container pots still need watering as the plant itself blocks the water from going into the container.
    Have a wonderful summer and please keep us posted on all your good thrift finds.

  2. When I was reading your Bricks ‘n Blooms weekly post on Saturday I was wondering how you maintain your beautiful yard and garden when you go to Vermont to stay in your vacation home. You have a great system set up so you don’t have to worry about your NJ property while you are in VT. Great post with so many helpful tips!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I’ve had it down to a science in prior years, but this year with all the seedlings. They are definitely more work!

  3. Pingback: Dirt Road Adventures - Memorial Day Weekend - The Ponds Farmhouse
  4. Thanks for sharing this great advice, I was planning for vacations and this was the last thing that I needed to make it worry free.

  5. These are great tips! I needed this as we’re leaving for vacation in a few weeks. Thanks for sharing!