How to Water Plants When You’re on Holiday

Emma Loker Headshot - DIY Garden
Written by: - Gardening Expert
how to water plants when youre on holiday

Picture this. You escape everyday life to go on a well-deserved, luxurious holiday. You come home and, oh no! While you’ve been treating yourself, your plants have been withering away.

This is a common fear among gardeners. But there’s a way to sidestep it. Below, we talk about a whole host of ways to water your plants when you’re on holiday.  

How to Keep Plants Watered While Away

Unfortunately, plants don’t stop needing water when you go on holiday. They can handle a couple days of neglect, maybe even a week. Beyond that, you’re risking plant fatality. 

But your adoration of plants doesn’t have to clash with your need for a break. Many methods can do your job while you’re away. 

Phone a Friend

If you’ve got a friend who’s as much of a plant fanatic as you, give them a call. Maybe they’d relish the opportunity to look after some new plants? But choose wisely. Not everyone is cut out for the job!

Grouping together plants that are alike in their watering needs can help your friend out. And leave them some instructions to follow if the requirements are specific!

Just remember – you have to be willing to return the favour!


Invest in a Terrarium

These are essentially DIY greenhouses. The glass utilises heat from the sun, causing the plant’s moisture to evaporate. Condensation then sticks to the glass and drips back down onto your plants, mimicking rain. This natural ecosystem is highly proficient and doesn’t require any favours! 

Or, instead of buying a terrarium, you can create a makeshift greenhouse with a clear plastic bag. Just place your plastic bag on a warmish, waterproof floor away from direct sunlight. 

Dampen a towel and put that in the bottom of your bag, then load it up with your potted plants. Don’t crowd the bag too much. Otherwise, you’ll risk tearing it when you pull the sides up.

Then, as you’re pulling the bag handles up, inflate the bag by blowing into it. Close off the bag using a rubber band or a gardening twist tie. 

This will work just like the terrarium – your plant’s very own little ecosystem! It’s an excellent way of watering plants while on holiday. There’s no reason why you can’t do it for outdoor plants, too. Just avoid direct sunlight! 

Get Your Glass Bottles

Enjoy a glass of wine guilt-free with this handy watering technique. Watering your plants with a glass bottle is the perfect solution while you’re away. It gives your plants a steady stream of water for up to 5 days!

Get rid of the cap’s plastic film (you may need pliers) and create some holes in the lid. Just hammer a nail into the cap and voilà, you have holes! But hammer from the inside, as this won’t compromise the stability of the lid.   

Then fill the bottle right to the top with water and screw on the cap. Dig a hole in your soil that matches the width of the bottle’s neck, and tip your bottle upside down into the hole.

Or, buy a self-watering plant pot. These work just like glass bottles but require no DIY. Just fill it up with water and place it in your pot! 

Put Plastic Bottles to Use


If you’ve got no wine bottles lying around (well done, you!) and you don’t fancy splashing out on a self-watering plant pot, use a plastic bottle instead. Puncture holes in the bottle and insert it into the soil, keeping the neck and lid above the surface. 

Unscrew the cap and fill the bottle up with water. Ta-dah! All of your watering worries, gone. 

Bathe Your Beauties


Baths don’t just offer you a soothing treat – they can be the difference between life and death for your plants while you’re away! 

Just fill your bath with a couple inches of water, plonk a towel down in the water, and place your plants on top. This method will work for up to a week. 

Choose your plants carefully. They’re going to be sat in water for however long you’re away. Therefore, this method is only suitable for plants that need lots and lots of water. Tropical plants can’t get enough of the stuff, so a bath works wonders for them! 

Your bathroom may not be the best source of light, either. Consider your plant’s sunlight needs. If they love the sun, consider bathing them in the sun rather than in the bath. 

If you’ve not got a bath, your plants don’t have to miss out! A sink will work just as well. 

Saucer System


Maybe you want to bathe your plants but don’t want the hassle of sorting it out when you get home? If that’s the case, set up a saucer system instead. 

Pick a saucer that your plant pot can sit nicely on top of. It’ll need a lip so you can add water without it going everywhere. Then place your pot on the saucer (making sure the pot has drainage holes first!) and pour some water in! 

How to Water Plants While Away for Two Weeks

The Wick Trick


Arm yourself with some string and a bowl/bucket/vase of water. This method is extraordinary for the long-lasting watering of multiple plants. 

When choosing your container, remember that the bigger the container, the more water it holds, and the longer your plants are watered! 

If you’ve not got string, shred a cotton t-shirt or use rope made of natural fibres. Cotton is always your best bet because it’s so absorbent. It makes the perfect transporter of water for your plants! 

So get your string or rope and cut it, ensuring it can reach both the container and your plant pot with a good amount of slack and enough length for you to bury it 2 or 3 inches into the soil. 

Push your string/rope into the soil and cover it back over. The last thing you want is panic to strike on holiday like you’ve forgotten to lock the door. Instead of thinking, “Oh no! What if the string has fallen out?” you can rest easy knowing it’s not going anywhere.

Put the other end of the string/rope into the water container. You want lots of slack over this end. Then fill up the vase, and water your plants! 

You’ll need to test this system out before you go – you don’t want to come back to find out it hasn’t worked. 

Drip System

If the wick trick is a bit too much faff for your liking, purchase a drip system from your local garden centre. This is an ideal holiday plant watering system. Just beware; you’ll pay more for this hassle-free method!

Drip systems cleverly let out a little bit of water at a time, giving your plants a steady water supply for an extended period. 


When’s the Holiday?

Before implementing a clever watering system, consider when you’re going away. If you’ve booked a long summer vacay of a week or more, your plants will definitely need a watering system of some sort. 

But if you’re only away for a couple of days or you’ve booked a winter retreat, your plants will most likely do just fine with no attention at all. 

Just place them away from direct sunlight in the hotter months, and give them a good watering before you go whatever the time of year!

Holiday Awaits!

Your plants don’t need to die because you chose to take a break. Set up a watering system that suits your and your plants’ needs exactly! 

Phone up a trusty neighbour or friend, or set up a self-watering system using a terrarium, plastic bag, glass or plastic bottle. For mid-length holidays, give your plants a soak in the bath or set up a saucer system. Implement the wick trick or purchase a drip system for long-lasting watering. 

And maybe your plants don’t need any TLC at all, but at least you care enough to check. 

Now go! Enjoy your holiday with ease, knowing your plants are having a magnificent time, just like you.

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