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Watering Houseplants While Away on Vacation: Tips for Success

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Do you become a nervous wreck when you are leaving your home for a while and wonder how on Earth your houseplants will survive? Other than having someone come to your home to check on your plants and water, which isn’t always feasible, there are several things that you can do to make sure that your houseplants will be OK while you are gone for a week or two.

Check out my recommendations below!

leaving plants for 2 weeks

Leave a Little Water in the Saucer

The last time we went on vacation, I was very concerned over how one of my Pilea peperomioides would survive.

Although it was only a week that we were gone, this particular plant is growing in a terra cotta pot and it typically will dry out in less than a week’s time.

What I simply did was watered the plant thoroughly right before we left. Then I added maybe an inch or so of water in the saucer. When I got back from vacation, everything was fine! It worked like a charm!

Although you don’t want to do this routinely, it certainly is OK to do occasionally. I would not recommend this if you are gone for a very long period…say, more than 2 weeks or so. Experiment and see what works for you.

When I returned, the water in the saucer had disappeared. If you return and there is still water left in the sauce, be sure to empty it.

Also, if you are using terra cotta saucers, be careful because it may damage any wooden furniture that it is sitting on.

Terra cotta is very porous the the moisture will go right through. If you use plastic saucers, there is no concern. Clear plastic saucers come in various sizes. I always have extras on hand!

However, if you want to keep terra cotta saucers, you can purchase saucers that are glazed on the inside. This will prevent any water from seeping through and damaging any furniture!

Or if you don’t want to bother with terra cotta saucers at all, you can opt for plastic saucers that look like terra cotta. They also come in different colors so you can pick one that matches your pot.

Or if your plant is slipped into a decorative pot with no drainage hole, you can add extra water into the pot, like I did with my rabbit’s foot fern in my office at work.

I would never do this while at home. Only if I know I will be gone for a while. Sometimes, once you know the rules, you can break the rules!

Place Your Plant in a Shadier Location

This tactic will work well if you have plants that are kept in a sunny location. By moving your plant out of direct sun, or to a much darker location, the plant will naturally use less water, and thus dry out much more slowly! And it will do no harm for a week or two.

Make a Temporary “Greenhouse”

This technique will work best for smaller plants. Follow these steps:

Simply insert a few bamboo stakes into the pot.

Place a clear plastic bag over the plant, taking care to try and keep the plastic bag away from touching the leaves of the plant if possible.

Wrap a rubber band around the pot, over the plastic bag, to completely enclose the plant in plastic. Or you can use garden twine instead of a rubber band.

Be sure to situate your contraption out of direct sun while you are away, otherwise you might cook your houseplant!

You essentially have created a mini-greenhouse or terrarium. This creates a closed system and will prevent your plant from drying out while you are away.

For Larger Plants, Cover the Soil Surface

If you have a larger plant that would be too big to create a “greenhouse,” you can use the first technique of letting the plant sit in a bit of water in the saucer, or you can cover the soil surface.

Simply water your plant if it is dry before you leave, and place a few layers of moistened newspapers or paper towels on the soil. Cover the surface of the potting soil, but keep the newspapers or paper towels away from the stems or trunk of your plant.

Use a Water Globe

This method may be the best looking option of making sure your plants’ watering needs are met while you are away for a while.

Water globes are simple to use. Just fill the globe with water and insert it into the pot. The water will slowly be released into the soil of your houseplant. Style meets function!

Of course if you have succulents or cacti, your plants will be able to survive without any special treatment for while. You may just chose to place them out of the sun while you are away, especially if they are in small pots.

Have you used any other methods to ensure your plants are OK while you are on vacation or away from your home? Comment below!


Thursday 7th of April 2022

Thank you for this tip. I too have relied on my moisture meter for watering guidance. Your simplified explanation made so much sense. This may be why I am also killing some of my plants. Uggh! Looking forward for the next tip.


Friday 8th of April 2022

I hope this has helped you out Elena! :-)


Friday 18th of February 2022

We are going to be away for a month this summer and have a number of lovely tropical plants (Lady Val, Cordyline fruticosa, etc.).

I will definitely test out some of your methods on our plants before leaving.

I have the glass watering globe but couldn’t make it work. It just emptied out the water even though I had thoroughly watered the plant right before insertion.

Have you ever tried the Blumat plant watering stakes system? Good reviews but haven’t used ti and was curious about your take.

Thank you for your amazing & helpful site!


Saturday 19th of February 2022

I haven't tried the Blumat stakes, but now you have me curious! :-). I'm glad you enjoy my site!

Michael Kinnear

Wednesday 15th of July 2020

I used to use Oxygen-Plus (Urea Peroxide) with excess water in a DEEP saucer... it was the ONLY way that I could keep my 2 Norfolk Pines alive (since I kept my indoor air cool with the attendant low humidity). However, Oxygen-Plus product was taken off the market 20+ years ago. Why???

Never-the-less, I have continued to leave excess water in ALL of my many different plants with absolutely NO side effects. Lately, I read an article ("Gardening Know How" and other articles) about using dilute hydrogen peroxide in watering my plants... works great!

I do use a self watering pot (designed for African Violets) for my Maidenhair fern... but I still use the 3% H2O2 (approx. 1 teaspoon per cup of water).


Friday 17th of July 2020

Thanks for sharing Michael! What is the purpose of adding the hydrogen peroxide?

Michele Jones

Thursday 12th of March 2020

Hi! Thank you for the suggestions! Do you ever use self wster containers, the kind with the string that is in soul & water. Can you use them on most plants? Michele

Barbara Brown

Tuesday 21st of January 2020

I thank you for the useful suggestions to keep my plants taken care of .I use 'watering bulbs daily..if I don't have watering bulbs,plastic water bottles work just as good.Just fill the bottle and invert into the plant,give it a little twist to create a suction..when the bottle is m-t then it is usually time to water the plant,so I just repeat the steps..this has worked really well for me..


Tuesday 21st of January 2020

Thanks for sharing Barbara. As long as it is working, keep doing it!