The Q&A Archives: Vacation Watering

Question: I once read something about a wick method for watering potted plants (both indoors and out) while out of town, but cannot remember the particulars. Can you give me directions - I will be gone for 4 days and my terra cotta pots tend to really dry out.

Answer: Supplying water to pots by wicking it up from a tray of water is relatively easy. With terra cotta pots, you might want to group them together and surround them with damp peat moss or compost to retard evaporation from the sides of the pots. Watered well and grouped together before you leave, the pots should not dry out in the period of four days. For extended periods, try the wicking method. To wick water, use a strip of cotton material, or heavy-duty paper towels, poke one end into the drainage hole on the bottom of the pot and place the other end in a tray of water. It helps to have the pots above the water source where capillary action will draw the water up to the root area of the pots. The arrangement will depend upon the number of pots you're trying to keep watered, but a children's wading pool filled with several inches of water into which you've placed concrete blocks to hold the pots above the water level will work. Water the pots well and then poke the wick into the drainage hole and let the other end trail in the water. Practice before you leave on your trip, just to make sure the pots remain watered for the proper length of time.

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