Care for Houseplants
Batya's Personal Report
It's always a bit nerve-wracking to know how to care for houseplants that depend on me while planning a trip away from my indoor garden. After all, I'm responsible for their very lives!
Over time, my plants have become my friends.
Most of them have been with me a while (some as many as 25 or more years!), and the new ones and I are just getting to know each other.
I talk to my houseplants, pet them as I go by, pay lots of attention to their needs, and respond to changes they want - location, fertilization, watering.
In exchange, they keep my air clean, keep me company, and keep me interested.
Of course I don't want to abandon them!
Recently I planned an 11-day trip. I don't think I've been away from them that long before this. And being in a new home, where I'm still learning the light and heat fluctuations of each room, added some worries.
A list of questions started twirling around in my head a couple of weeks before I left:
- Will I be gone too long?
- Will the plants become too dry?
- Will I over-water them before I leave?
- How much light is too much in case it's sunny every day?
- How much light is not enough in case it's cloudy every day?
- What if they get bugs while I'm away?
- Should I move them from their regular spots?
And, of course, my little prayer: Oh Lord, I hope none of them die!
Planning for the Trip
About two weeks before leaving I began my special vacation care for houseplants by doing the following:
- moved some of the more tender house plants to gentler places to test out how they'd do, especially those in direct sunlight
- changed how I kept the blinds until I found just enough light but not as much as usual (I have a West-facing room that can become very hot during the afternoon)
- sprayed the two or three plants that looked like they were harboring the start of a bug infestation with a gentle, organic insecticide
- altered the watering pattern so I could give them all a good dousing the day before I left
- explained to them I'd be leaving
- reassured my houseplants that I'd be back
The evening before my trip I spent with my house plants. Here's what happened:
- trimmed back any dead or dying branches
- cleaned fallen leaves from the top of the soil
- pinched off problem leaves
- adjusted the location of thin-stemmed plants
- tweaked the slant of shades, blinds, and curtains
- changed the temperature in the house so it wouldn't get too hot or dry for too long
- watered each of them thoroughly
- reassured them again that I loved them and would be back
When I returned home I walked into a home of happy, healthy houseplants!
All but one of my 30-or-so green leafed friends were doing fine! The Kalanchoe had been having problems for a few weeks before I'd left and was already in isolation, so I wasn't surprised to find it a bit straggly with some fallen leaves scattered around it. Many sources recommend discarding it after it flowers, but I'd taken some cuttings (which are doing very well!) and hoped for the best. It still may pull through, but that's questionable.
All that care for houseplants before leaving was well worth it!
That's my story about preparing for my vacation - what's yours? Please fill out the form below and share your experiences!
How Do You
Care for Your Houseplants
When on Vacation?
How do you prepare your house plants for your vacation? What do you different - if anything - and how? Do you use a plant-sitter? How do your plants fare while you're away?
Please share your stories about being an Indoor Gardener who has taken a vacation. Other visitors to Indoor-Gardener.com would love to hear your stories - good and bad - and see your photos!
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