When you are away from home you need to make provisions to ensure that your plants stay healthy. If you are unable to get a friend or neighbour to come in and water your plants, there are some easy tips you can follow to keep your plants in great condition until you return. These tips also work if you just have a very busy schedule where watering your plants is not at the top of your list.
Method 1. Making a String Drip System
Place a length of cotton string or cloth into the bottom of the soil of your plant. Whatever you use has to be able to hold water.
Place the opposite end of the string into a large jar of water and place it at the bottom.
If the string floats, tie it to a weight to make sure it remains at the bottom.
The process of capillary action ensures that the water travels from the jar via the string to the plant.
The mouth of the jar needs to be above the base of the plant so the water can travel down the string more easily.
If you have multiple pot plants, you can bury multiple lengths of string into your plants with the ends submerged in a pot full of water.
The size of the jar or pot can be altered depending on how long you are going to be away. If the pot is covered, it will minimise evaporation while you are away.
Keep the plants out of direct sunlight so the water does not evaporate due to the heat from the sun and also to ensure that the string doesn’t dry out.
Following this method should provide enough water for your plants for up to a week.
Method 2. Water Bottle Drop System
This is an easy and effective method of watering garden plants.
Firstly, make sure that the soil is completely wet before you start. If you put the water bottle into dry soil, the soil will absorb all the water immediately and leave none to feed the plant during the coming days.
Take an empty bottle, one or two liters in capacity. Then pierce several holes in the sides and bottom of the bottle and bury it in the soil surrounding your plants.
Make sure there are sufficient holes in the bottom of the bottle, or the water will sit and algae can grow in the bottle.
There only needs to be three or four holes in the sides, any more will force the water out too fast.
Place the bottle with the neck of the bottle exposed just above the soil. Point the holes in the side of the bottom facing in the direction of the plant. Make sure no soil can get into the water bottle.
Just before you leave for your trip, fill the bottle to the top with water.
During the time you are away, the water will drip into the soil through the holes in the bottle and ensure that your plant gets adequate moisture. You can put a lid on the bottle to slow the flow of water. This is a useful method if you are planning to be away for a long trip.
Method 3. Making a Watering Bottle
This method works with an empty wine bottle with a screw top. First pierce several holes in the top with a fork or a screwdriver. Then fill the bottle with water and replace the lid. Place the bottle top down in the soil around the plants and the water will drip gradually into the soil while you are away. The bottle may lean to the side, which is fine, but make sure it is sturdy and secure so it doesn’t fall out. Ensure that the soil is damp before you travel. This method works for pot plants and garden plants.
A standard wine bottle holds enough water to feed a 4-6 square foot area of garden for around three days. For smaller areas or pot plants, you can use a smaller bottle such as an empty water bottle or beer bottle as long as there is a replaceable lid. You can also put drops of fertilizer or liquid plant food in the water if required.
The soil can clog the holes in the lid, so if you want to check that the water is dripping properly, place the bottle in the soil before you travel and use a permanent marker to mark the top of the water line and check back in a few hours to see if the water level has dropped. If the soil is clogging the holes, you can remove the bottle, glue a piece of screening over the mouth of the bottle instead. This will allow the water to seep out through the screening slowly.
Method 4. Saucers
This method works for indoor and outdoor pot plants. Place a saucer of water under the pot plant and fill the saucer before you travel. While you are away, the water in the saucer will be absorbed gradually. For outdoor plants, the saucer will collect any rain and feed the plant from the excess water that collects there.
Form a co-op with friends
Another way to ensure your plants are watered while you are away is to form a co-operative arrangement with friends or neighbours. Arrange to care for each other’s plants while they are away and to reciprocate, they will water your garden and indoor plants while you are away.
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