How to Keep Houseplants Alive While on Holiday

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You're going on holiday and you don't want to leave your plants behind to die. It's tough enough leaving for a long weekend break, let alone for an extended period of time. And what's even worse is coming home to dead plants!

I've got the perfect solution for you – follow my tips on how to keep houseplants alive whilst on holiday, and you'll be able to relax knowing that your green friends are in good hands.

How to Keep Houseplants Alive While on Holiday

One of the most important things to remember when you're away from home is to water your plants!

If you're going on an extended holiday, it's good to ask a friend or neighbour to water them for you. But if that's not possible, you can do some other things to make sure they stay hydrated and healthy whilst you are away.

Adjust the Light and Temperature

The first thing to consider before you go away is the natural light and temperature in your home.

If you're going to be gone for more than a week, it's a good idea to adjust the thermostat so that your plants don't get too hot or cold.

Moving potted plants from direct sunlight to a shaded area will help them maintain hydration and slow down their dry rate.

It would help if you also thought about whether or not your plants will be getting enough light while you're away. If they're not, you can move them to a brighter spot but still use indirect light in your home or place them in a greenhouse.

If you don't have a greenhouse, you can put them in a sunny spot in your yard if the weather conditions allow for your plants to go outside.

Prune your Potted Plants Before you Go

If you want to make sure your plants stay healthy while you're away, it's a good idea to give them a little bit of TLC before you go. If they need it, give them a good prune.

This will help them focus their energy on new growth and prevent them from getting too big. When you're pruning, be sure to cut at an angle so that water can drain properly.

Also, don't forget to clean your pruning shears afterwards to prevent the spread of disease.

Ask a Friend or Neighbour to Water Plants

If you're going away on vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is your plants. But what are the options? You can't just leave them to fend for themselves, and you can't take them with you.

The best solution is to ask a friend or neighbour to be your plant sitter. This way, you can be sure your plants are being taken care of while you're away.

Just make sure to give them clear instructions on your watering schedule and all your plants’ needs. With a plant sitter, you can relax and enjoy your vacation knowing your plants are in good hands.

Watering Before you Leave

Give the potting soil and roots a little bit of drying out (without killing your plant!) a few days before you leave by giving less water, that way you can make sure they have a thorough watering the day before your holiday.

I water from the bottom up at this time, as the capillary action will make sure there are no dry areas around the roots.

Bottom watering will help them last longer without water while away. Make sure that your plants have drainage holes and that you also empty any saucers or trays under the pots, as these can hold water and cause the roots to rot.

TIP: Succulents are a great choice for travellers, as they actually enjoy getting dried out, the same goes for plants such as Snake Plants, Jade Plants and ZZ plants.

Don't Use Fertiliser

If you're going to be away for more than a couple of weeks, it's a good idea to not fertiliser in the watering just before your holiday.

This is because fertiliser can cause plants to grow whilst you are away, and they may not have the necessary resources to support this growth if you are away longer than anticipated.

Check for Pests

If you notice any pests or diseases on your plants, it's good to check them before you leave. Sometimes, pest and disease problems can be worse in a new environment, so if you catch them early, they may be easier to treat.

If there are signs of pests or diseases, it would be good to spray the plant with some neem oil or similar as soon as possible.

Also, have some sticky fly traps in your plants to make sure those pesky fungus gnats don't start laying in your plants whilst you are away; I've just had a minor infestation of them, and they are not fun!.

Watering Techniques Whilst Away

Here are some ways to keep your plants watered while you're away:

Self Watering Methods

If you're going to be gone for more than just a weekend, it might be worth considering getting a self-watering system for your plants. These systems can be as simple as this easy watering system or soaker hoses especially if you have a makeshift greenhouse to put your plants into whilst you are away.

Something that allows you to set times for watering is the automatic drip irrigation system that you can arrange to water your plants on a specific timer whilst away.

Watering Globes

Another option is to get a plant watering globe. This is a glass ball that you fill with a few inches of water and then insert into your plant's soil and then rest on the lip of the planter. The water will then slowly seep out, keeping the plant moist.

Watering Globes

Tip: If the tip of your watering globe gets clogged, it won't work. To prevent this, wrap the end in a bit of cheesecloth before inserting it into the ground.

Use Self-Watering Pots

If you're worried about your plants not getting enough water, you can always use self-watering pots. These are great because they slowly release water into the soil, so all your plants especially those larger plants can stay hydrated even if you're gone for a long time.

Self Watering Plant Pot

21cms Self watering plant pot insert

24cms Self watering plant pot insert

28cms Self watering plant pot insert

33cms Self watering plant pot insert

Water Wicking Systems

Another option for watering your plants while away is setting up a water-wicking system. This is where you place a piece of fabric, such as a cotton rope, in the potting mix and the other end of the wick in a glass jug or water container. The water will then wick up the fabric into the soil of the plant, keeping the plant moist.

Capillary Matting

If you're looking for a way to keep your plants hydrated, using a tray with capillary matting is a great option. Capillary matting is a material that helps to wick moisture from the tray and up into the plant's roots. This provides a constant supply of moisture, which can be especially helpful during hot summer months.

In addition, using a tray with capillary matting can help to prevent root rot, which can be caused by overwatering. If you're concerned about your plants getting enough water, using a tray with capillary matting is a great way to ensure they stay hydrated.

Also, use a fan to create ample air circulation to help with the health of your plants


Mulching is another great way to keep your plant's moist while away. Mulch is a material you place on top of the soil to help retain moisture. It can be something as simple as a damp newspaper or straw.

However, some plants don't enjoy being sat in the water, so you'll need to understand your plant's preferences and dislikes to avoid causing root rot by overwatering it.


For tropical plants, humidity is key to their health and wellbeing. If the air is too dry, these plants will quickly start to suffer, developing brown leaves and stunted growth. Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to increase the humidity around your tropical plants while you're away:

  • One method is to place the plants on a tray of pebbles filled with water. As the water evaporates, it will help to raise the humidity levels in the surrounding air.
  • Place a large bowl of water either on top of your radiator if it's safe to do so or next to it and the heat will help to evaporate the water and increase the moisture in the air.
  • Create your own DIY indoor mini greenhouse to place your plants that need more humidity.
  • Placing jars of water around your house will help to increase too.

Wine Bottle Method

If you don't have any self-watering devices or anything like that, then the wine bottle method is a straightforward way to water your plants while you're away.

All you need to do is:

  • Fill a wine bottle with water until it begins to narrow – but not to the top.
  • Replace the cork (make sure it is entirely in the bottle)
  • Pierce a hole in the cork with a skewer
  • Make sure a little bit of water is coming through the cork by turning the bottle over.
  • Water the plant well before adding the bottle. If the soil is too dry, the water in your bottle will empty too quickly.
  • Then place the bottle upside down in the soil next to the plant. The water will then seep out slowly, giving the plant a steady moisture supply.

You can also adapt this method to using a plastic bottle with a watering spike, and it will add as much water as the plant needs, and it's something that anyone can do, even if you're not particularly gardening-savvy. I have used these terracotta cones, which make them the easiest way for wine bottles.

In terms of watering, the key is to make sure that excess water drain away as you don't want to arrive home to soggy plants.


Can plants survive three weeks without water?

It depends on the type of plant. If you have a succulent, it can probably survive for up to three weeks without water. But, if you have a tropical plant, it might not make it more than a week without water.

How do you make an automatic waterer for houseplants?

I found this video on creating your own DIY self-watering plant system.

And finally…

So there you have it Plant Parents – my top tips for how to take care of plants while on holiday. With a little bit of planning, you can relax knowing that your plant babies are in good hands, and you can enjoy your time away without worry!

A lot of these techniques can be used for your outdoor plants as well. Just remember to come back and check on them when you get home 🙂

Do you have any tips for keeping plants alive while on holiday? Let me know in the comments below!

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Happy Holidays!

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