Ask a Question forum→How to keep indoor plants alive when away from home ?

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australia
pallavi
Dec 10, 2018 12:09 AM CST
Hi All,

What are some of the measures I could take to ensure my indoor plants dont die when I am away from home for 3-4 weeks ? None of my friends or neighbors are around that time too.

Just soak them well once and put them in a room with indirect light so they dont dry up quick ? Also, should I put water in the trays under them or put them all in bath over some water or moist towels? Would it lead to root rot ? Another option is to put water bottles upside down and make small holes in them and let the water drip.

Questions :-

1) How long can indoor plants with drainage holes sit in water trays without root rots ?

2) I got a lot of plants so self watering pots is not an option for now. If I use the drip bottle or water/moist towel in bath option, can that work for longer than 2 weeks ?

Appreciate all help.
[Last edited by pallavi - Dec 10, 2018 4:53 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
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kniphofia
Dec 10, 2018 2:53 AM CST
What kind of plants do you have? How often would you be watering them? Is the temperature likely to be high?

I would go with the bath/moist towels option if the bathroom lighting is fairly good. I doubt your plants would suffer too much during the 2 weeks.
West Palm Beach, FL (Zone 10b)
MaestroDT
Dec 10, 2018 2:36 PM CST
I was recently away for a week and I tried a bunch of different methods.

1) Water wicking. If you're going to be gone for more than week, you'll need a pretty big reservoir. I used a gallon reservoir and small pieces of yarn that I pressed into the soil of a few pots through the top of the soil and all the way to the bottom. By the time I returned, the reservoir was empty, but the bottom of my pots was still moist. I think I got back right when it ran out.

2) Bag it up! Take a big trash bag, put a bunch of wet paper towels in the bottom, and put one of your pots on top of the wet paper towels. Blow air into it to inflate it and tie off the top. It makes a tiny greenhouse. The seedlings that I bagged this way seemed to fair a little better over water wicking.

3) Take them with you. I had a few seedlings that had just sprouted and didn't want to leave... and I also have a tiny bonsai tree that will die if it gets dry, so I brought those with me.

But 3-4 weeks is a long time to be away.
Name: seil
St Clair Shores, MI (Zone 6a)
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seilMI
Dec 10, 2018 4:10 PM CST
Water them really well before hand then I take the big 2 liter pop bottles, fill them up with water and then turn them upside down it the potting soil. I've had that even work outside in my planters.
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
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Leftwood
Dec 10, 2018 4:41 PM CST
Bag them up - yes. Water them a day or two before, seal in a clear plastic bag, place out of direct sun, but still good light. Cooler temps are better if you are able. No extra moist paper towels. There is nothing wrong with a communal bag with many plants, as long as they won't catch something from each other, like insects. The goal here is not growth, but healthy stasis.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Dec 11, 2018 10:09 AM CST
Sue's question is a good one. Different plant species will require different solutions. Most succulents can go a month without water. Other plants don't tolerate dryness at all. Some are resistant to root rot while others will rot quite easily.

Reducing light and temperature will reduce water use. However, there can be other consequences from reduced light and low temps.
Will Creed
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Dec 11, 2018 10:50 AM CST
Hello pallavi, I just water my indoor plants thoroughly a day before we leave. Have done that in a few occasions when we have to go out of the country in an emergency and coming back after 3 to 4 weeks.

At most the plants will shed some leaves, but it is a better option for us than leaving them even in shade outdoors since at that time our outdoor conditions are extremely dry and goes way too hot into triple digits and zero rainfall here during the summer months.

The plants may shed some leaves, but it is just trying to sustain what it can maintain. Then when we return, I resume watering again. At least indoor conditions are way milder, they are positioned near the windows where I have sheer white curtains on the hottest areas facing west or south.

You can certainly do a water drip system if the plants are more tropical by nature. If they are succulents, no problem since they have good water reservoir in their leaves/stems/roots.

australia
pallavi
Dec 11, 2018 11:09 PM CST
Thanks all. I ve got the following plants :-

succulents
zanzibar
monstera
syngonium
African violets
croton
schefellera ( both types )
fiddle leaf fig
rubber plant
rhapis palm
calathea
parlor palm
dracaena
peace lily
devil's ivy

out of these , I believe peace lily , calathea and mosntera are most susceptible to root rot

I think putting them on a heavily wet towel in the bath and goving filtered indirect light should do the trick for 2 weeks. Not sure if I should fill the bath with water upto 1-2 inches. If I were to do that to already watered plants, would it cause rot ?
[Last edited by pallavi - Dec 11, 2018 11:10 PM (+)]
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Name: Karen
New Mexico (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Dec 11, 2018 11:41 PM CST
When I had a house full of plants and had to leave for a month, I bought a patio drip system kit from Home Depot. I hooked it up to my bathtub. I laid towels in the bottom of the tub, put in all of my plants and led the drippers to their pots. I put a timer on the system so they could still be watered on my schedule. I left the windows uncovered so the light would come in. It wasn't as bright as they were used to, but they did fine for a month. I didn't have any problems with them when I returned.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Dec 12, 2018 1:20 PM CST
succulents - should be able to go two weeks without water
zanzibar - should be able to go two weeks without water
monstera
syngonium
African violets
croton - does not tolerate dryness. keep soil moist
schefellera ( both types )
fiddle leaf fig- does not tolerate dryness. keep soil moist
rubber plant
rhapis palm- does not tolerate dryness. keep soil moist
calathea
parlor palm
dracaena
peace lily- does not tolerate dryness. keep soil moist
devil's ivy

The other plants do need to dry out moderately between waterings. Whether or not they can go two weeks depends a lot on how they are potted. Repotted plants and those in large pots usually go longer than plants that are kept potbound or are in small pots.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
australia
pallavi
Dec 12, 2018 7:00 PM CST
Thanks everyone. I ll hope I could use these measures and keep my plants alive.
Name: Karen
New Mexico (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Plays in the sandbox Greenhouse
Sempervivums Bromeliad Adeniums Morning Glories Avid Green Pages Reviewer Brugmansias
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plantmanager
Dec 13, 2018 12:19 AM CST
Good luck! Let us know what you did and how they do when you get back.
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