Lauren Fick: Watering houseplants while on vacation

Lauren Fick
Lauren Fick

We are approaching the time of year when many people take a vacation. In the rush to get everything done before leaving, don't forget your houseplants will probably need watering while you are gone. The best alternative is to have someone water them for you. However, if this is not possible, there are alternatives.

1. Well-watered plants can be placed inside a plastic bag. Prop up the bag by using wooden dowels or something similar to keep the plastic off the leaves. Make sure the enclosed plants will not receive full sun as heat buildup may cook them. Bright, indirect light is best. Plants should keep for about a week with this method.

2. This method requires an old dish drying rack, a bathtub in a bathroom with some natural light, and some shoelaces. Place the drying rack upside down in the tub and add several inches of water. Push one end of a shoelace through a drainage hole on the bottom of a pot and into the potting soil of your houseplant. The other end of the shoelace dangles into the water. You have made a wick system that will replace the water in the pot as the plant uses it. Plants can last a couple of weeks if you have enough natural light.

​3. Numerous commercial products that can be used to automatically water houseplants in your absence. The advantage of these products is that the houseplant does not normally need to be moved. All require a reservoir from which water is either siphoned or pumped to individual houseplants. Houseplants should last as long as the water holds out.

Lauren Fick is the Horticulture Extension Agent for the Cottonwood Extension District. If you have questions, she can be contacted by e-mail at or by phone at 785-628-9430 or 620-793-1910.