Holiday Proofing Your Houseplants

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Recently, my family and I got away for some rare holiday time. As a parent, there’s nothing better than seeing your kids excited to see somewhere new. I admit, I may have been more excited to visit Disneyland than they were. But as we all know, there’s no going on vacation without the onslaught of work leading up to it. With all the planning, packing, and email answering going on, it’s easy to neglect our houseplants. Our poor plants are stuck at home missing out on the fun, so the least we can do is set them up to survive an empty house. 

Before Leaving the House

There’s lots to do in the days leading up to your vacation, but preparing your houseplants for your departure only takes a few minutes. Here’s what we did before we caught the plane:

Give them a good watering a day before you go and make sure the soil is well soaked. Make sure you see some water collecting in the saucer below the plant pot. Pour this water out before you leave your home to avoid standing water issues.

Remove dead plant material to help your plant use resources on healthy growth instead of deadheads.

Make sure your plant doesn’t catch a draft near any doors or next to frozen windows. Our cold, dry Alberta air is prone to drying out plant soil.

Bring the heat down a notch. Your plant doesn’t mind the indoor temperatures that make you reach for a sweater. It would much rather keep its soil moist than be in warmer air, which quickly dries potting soil out.

holiday proofing your houseplants watering

Take them out of direct sunlight. Sunlight keeps plants alive, but like us pale Canadians, too much sun can overdry them. Leave them in a spot with indirect sunlight or in a west-facing window that gets fewer sunlight hours.

Place your plants closer together. Plants conserve humidity better when clustered in a group. They also won’t be so lonely, since you won’t be around to cheer them up.

How to Water from Afar

If you’re simply heading out for a quick weekend getaway, a good watering is just fine. For extended trips, though, you may need to call in some backup to keep your plants thriving on their own.

Try drip-irrigating. Drip-irrigation systems release water slowly over time. There are all sorts of options on the market, from high-end electronically powered systems to pocket-friendly water globes and spikes. The best fit depends on the size and variety in your houseplant collection.

Craft your own irrigation system. All simple irrigation systems use similar mechanics to transfer water to your plant, so it’s possible to make your own drip watering system with common household materials. Common ones include empty wine bottles or mason jars with twine. Pinterest is full of great ideas for these homemade systems.

DIY a more humid climate. Humidity trays are quick and easy projects that increase the moisture content in the air around your plants. Just lay a flat layer of small stones or coarse gravel in the drip tray beneath your plant pot. Add water, and voila! Now your plant can enjoy a tropical vacation, too.

holiday proofing your houseplants cacti

Houseplants for Frequent Travellers

If you’re a true globe-trotter or you have multiple long-term trips planned this year, lucky you! In that case, there are many species of low-maintenance plants that may be a better fit for your home. Snake plants, succulents, ZZ plants, and cacti are great choices for your nomadic lifestyle.

Once your houseplants have been holiday-proofed, you can look forward to getting some much needed R&R – and coming home to a home that’s still as green and beautiful as you left it.


Read through our Growing Guides for tips to enrich your garden! 

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