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Preparing My Indoor Plants for Vacation

Published: July 13, 2023

watering plantsI'm about to take a trip, and my biggest concern is what will happen to my plants while I'm away. I'm the only one who takes care of the house plants, so when I leave, they are on their own. No, they're not left totally alone; there will be human beings in the house, but their thumbs don't have a single shade of green.

Since I've had these plants for decades, it would break my heart for them to pass away while I'm gone. So, I'm trying out new watering systems.

Self-Watering Pots

Self-Watering Flower Pots

One system I'm playing with is self-watering plant pots. Instead of the usual watering from dirt down, the water into the saucer with these pots. Attached to the bottom of the plant pot is a string that wicks moisture up from the saucer into the dirt. The plant gets to control how much water it needs.

So far, my plants' thirst has proven that they like a weekly saucer filling. As such, I think my people can handle adding water to the plant saucers at least once a week.

Blumat Plant Watering System

I'm also experimenting with another watering system called Blumat. This system consists of a small hollow terracotta cone insert that gets placed in the soil. Attached to the cone is a small tube that's inserted into a water source, in my case, old glass honey or coconut oil jars.

Blumat Plant Watering System

I've found that water jar positioning is key. If the water source is elevated too far above the plant, the water will flow too quickly into the flowerpot. I've had one plant absorb so much water that I had to drain the excess water from the saucer. Conversely, the opposite occurs if the water source is much lower than the plant. The plant might not pull enough water to nourish the roots. My snake plant had the water located too far below, and the plant remained dry.

Blumat Setup Tip

If air gets into the system, the watering stops. Ask me how I know this. Yep, I either allowed the water level to drop too low or didn't have the end submerged in water. If the end of the Blumat tube is not underwater, air will get into the system. When that happens, the water stops flowing, and the plant suffers.

While talking about the air issue, I found that the terracotta cone must be pushed down into the soil until only the green plastic cap is above the dirt. If the cone is not pushed far enough into the dirt, air could seep into the terracotta and stop the water flow. Ask me how I know that. ;)

Ten-Day Plant Watering Test

I've played with both systems for a couple of weeks to get a feel for what to do. I'll be gone for ten days and leaving the watering of my plants in the hands of the brown-thumbed human beings I live with. I don't think I'll be gone long enough for them to kill the plans (I hope), but just long enough to see if the plants are stressed when I return. Wish me and my plants luck. I'll let you know how things work out when I return.

8/28/23 Self-Watering Plant Pot Update

While things worked out well for my 10-day trip, some plants didn't fare so well afterward. Thinking I found a new way to keep my plants watered, I realized one of the methods didn't work so well.

Some of the plants in the water-wicking pots started showing signs of overwatering. The plant roots made their way beyond the pot and into the watering saucer. As a result, the roots remained constantly wet, and some plants started showing signs of root rot.

root rot snake plant

Snake plants do not like having constantly wet roots. Pothos plants, on the other hand, did well with wet roots. Pothos will grow in water and in dirt, so they aren't affected.

Going forward, I've decided to stop adding water to the saucer of the self-watering plant pots. I'll water them the old-fashioned way, from top to bottom. I've also ordered more Blumat plant watering systems and intend to convert all my plant pots to Blumat. With the Blumat system, I don't have to guess whether I'm over or under-watering my plants. The plants get to decide how much water they need.

About the Author: Felicia Williams is a wife, mother and grandmother who likes to write about a host of topics.

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Last Modified: 30 August 2023

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