River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Gardener's Corner

August 2002

Holiday care for indoor plants

Holidays, great for us, but not for our houseplants. Unless you have a good neighbour or you end up leaving plants with family. You have to devise a way of keeping your plants watered whilst your away in the sun. During the winter months, most plants will survive for a few days without care, even a week if they have been well watered before hand. In the hot summer weather, you cannot leave your plants any longer than a weekend.

Here are some tips to help solving that problem:

* If summer does arrive, stand as many of your plants outside as possible. Choose a shady, sheltered position. Plunging the pots up to their rims in the soil. Apply thick watered before departure, they can survive up to a week, without the rain.

* Move those that are too delicate to go outdoors into a few large groups in a cool position out of direct sunlight.

* Stand as many as possible on trays of gravel, watered to just below the level of the pots bases. Although this will moisten the compost, the humid air will help keep the plants in good condition.

* Ensure that all of the most vulnerable plants have some kind of watering system.

Many of the new watering devices are a variation on an old theme:

Porous reservoirs are pushed into compost and filled with water. The water slowly seeps through the porous walls over a period of days. These are useful for one or two pots for a short period of time.

Ceramic mushrooms work on a similar principle, but the top is sealed along with a connection tube to insert into a large reservoir (e.g. bucket). As the water seeps through the porous shaft, the pressure on the sealed unit drops and fresh water is drawn from the reservoir. This is a simple and effective method, keeping plants fresh for a couple of weeks. However you will need one for each plant.

Wicks are sold for insertion into the base of the pot, which is stood above a reservoir of water. Again you will need one for each pot. A good method if you only have a handful of plants.

Drip feeds generally sold as greenhouse and garden systems. A good solution, but they can be expensive.

Two cheap reliable systems are:

* The kitchen sink or the bath, used with a capillary mat.

* By placing an inflated plastic bag over your plant. This in turn conserves moisture for quite some time. However the down side is that if you leave the plant for too long, there is a risk of the leaves rotting.

Ruthe Gray

Copyright remains with independent content providers where specified, including but not limited to Village Pump contributors. All rights reserved.