By Andrea Romano
September 06, 2019
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House plants can be so finicky.

Even if we can find a friend who’s willing to take in the mail or walk our dog while we’re on vacation, plant moms and dads know how much of a gamble they’re taking when they leave their precious plants for more than a few days.

But there are ways you can keep your plants alive without having to assume your friends will do the work for you. Travel + Leisure spoke to plant experts at The Sill and The Bouqs Company to find out how intrepid travelers can have their plants and help them thrive too.

The plant experts at both of these companies are always giving out the best advice to keep your houseplants and bouquets happy and healthy for longer than you ever imagined. Even if you don’t have a green thumb.

Stick to low maintenance plants

In-house Floral Designer Kaylyn Hewitt for The Bouqs Company said, “Snake plants and succulents, they will usually be okay for 5-12 days without watering.” Heartier plants are ideal for people who want the beauty and air-cleaning qualities of plants without having to do a lot of work. According to The Spruce, succulents like aloe vera and jade, or plants like pothos, lucky bamboo, and Chinese evergreen are also great options.

Invest in an automatic plant watering system

Hewitt also suggested purchasing an automatic watering system. Amazon has a large variety of watering cones, fancy glass bulbs, cute watering birds, and in-house irrigation systems for reasonable prices. Plus, you can use these systems throughout the year.

Water a little extra, or add wood chips, rocks, or mulch to hold water

Water so your soil is moist but not soaking. If you are going away for more than a week or two, add wood chips, rocks, mulch, or even damp newspaper directly to your plant's soil to help hold moisture before you water it. Make sure there is no excess water in the saucer to avoid pests. You can even add rocks to your tray for drainage.

Create a makeshift greenhouse

“Water your plant thoroughly and then cover with a clear plastic bag to just below the lip of the planter, creating a makeshift greenhouse,” The Sill advised. The team also recommended cutting a few slits into the plastic for proper air circulation and using leftover chopsticks to hold the bag up and away from the foliage.

Move certain plants into your bathroom

Humidity-loving plants, like ferns and air plants, should be in the most humid part of your house — a.k.a. the bathroom. This helps the plants retain moisture while you’re away, according to The Sill. If you’re worried about light, you can also group your humidity going plants closely together and place them in another small room (the smaller, the better).

Skip fertilizer

You want your plants to grow as slowly as possible while you’re away, according to The Sill, so if you do use fertilizer, it’s better to stave off until you return from your trip. Plus, make sure not to fertilize for a few weeks before your departure.

Regulate your plant’s temperature

“The more sunlight your plant receives, the more frequent you might find yourself watering it,” said The Sill. So, if you’re away, you can move your plants a little bit further away from their natural light source. “Even if it’s a full-sun plant, it can handle a week or two of lower than ideal light,” said The Sill.

If in doubt, call a friend

If you’re truly worried about your plants, try to find a plant-savvy and reliable friend to help you out. “Leave your friend with clear plant care instructions, or walk them through your watering schedule a week or two beforehand,” said The Sill. The team also suggested bringing them back a souvenir as a thank you.

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