Whether you’re traveling for the holidays, going on vacation, or out of town for business, a little extra preparation can ensure that your houseplants will stay healthy and happy while you’re away.
Tip 1: Clean up your plants
Remove any leaves that are declining—leaves that are more than half yellow or brown should be removed. These leaves aren’t functioning at 100% anymore, and removing them will allow the plant to save its energy for fresh new growth. While you’re at it, clear the soil surface of any shriveled leaves and other debris. Allowing debris to remain on the soil surface can harbor insects that feed on your plant.
Tip 2: Water them thoroughly
Give your plants a good, thorough soak the day before leaving. Our favorite way to do this is by moving plant pots to the sink, tub, or shower. That allows you to give them plenty of water without worry of it overflowing onto your furniture or floor. After watering, allow plants to rest so that excess water drains away before putting them back in their usual spot.
Tip 3: Boost the humidity
For most houseplants, average household humidity is just fine. However, a boost in humidity while away is a great trick to extend the time needed between waterings. Plants in a more humid environment will transpire more slowly, meaning they’ll utilize water from the soil more slowly.
For an easy way to increase humidity, group your plants together. The water vapor released by the plants will be trapped within their canopies, creating a more humid microclimate. You can also place a dish of water in the center of your plant grouping—as the water evaporates, it will add to the humid effect.
Tip 4: Maintain light + temperature
If at all possible, leave your blinds open while you’re gone so that your plants continue to receive the light they rely on to survive. If that’s not feasible, ask a trusted neighbor or friend to open and shut them daily. A sudden change in light levels can induce dormancy or cause plants to decline.
When it comes to temperature, don’t be tempted to turn off your thermostat while away. Your plants can tolerate a slight change, but aim to keep the temperature within 5°F or so of what they’re used to. Similar to light, sudden temperature shifts can be stressful for your plants.
Tip 5: Ask for help!
If you’ll be gone more than a week or two, consider asking a friend to care for your plants. Make sure you leave clear watering instructions and if possible, walk them through your plant care routine before you depart.