Holiday Plant Care Checklist: What to do with your houseplants before travelling

Travelling to see loved ones in other parts of the country can be a lot of fun now that the holiday season has returned and summer has officially arrived. You may have amassed quite the jungle, and now you're concerned about the safety of your plant offspring, since cramming them all into your carry-on luggage seems absurd! 

Use our Holiday Plant Care Guide as a checklist to help you secure your plants during your break. Use whatever pointers you find helpful to set your plants up… for a break from you :) You want to come back with even bigger and healthier plants after your well deserved break.

Here’s our Holiday Plant Care Checklist…

Holiday Plant Care Checklist


As you prepare to leave, give your plants a thorough soaking. It is recommended that you water your plants thoroughly before leaving, as this will ensure that they have sufficient moisture to continue growing while you're gone.

The easiest way to do this is to place them in a bathtub or a bucket and fill the space above their drainage holes with water, bringing the total level of water to at least 5cm. If you have the time, give them 15–20 minutes to soak in the tub of water before draining the water. This will allow the potting medium to completely soak up the amount of water it can hold.

If you're going to be gone for only a week, make sure to give your plants plenty of time to drain before returning them to their designated spots. If you’re away for a little longer, relocation is next on your to-do list.

TOP TIP: It's important to give your plants plenty of time to dry out before you water them again before leaving on vacation, so be sure to plan your watering schedule accordingly. This will prevent accidental overwatering. Read up more on Under or Overwatering here.

What about your thirstier plants?
If some of the plants in your collection need more water than others, you might want to ask someone you trust to take care of them. However, if this is not possible, there are a variety of entertaining and ingenious strategies for making sure they drink enough water.

Consider self-watering devices such as self-watering planters or self-watering sticks. These items are made to give your plant a steady amount of water while still letting it get water from the potting medium as it dries out. 


Holiday Plant Care Checklist: What to do with your houseplants before travelling

The DIY Self-Watering System

Using string and a water container, create your own DIY self-watering system! Using a string or strips of fabric, typically made of microfiber or cotton, and a glass or large container of water is one of the easiest to recreate. The amount of water in your reservoir ought to be sufficient to keep your plant alive while you are away.

  • Step 1: To make a wick that will not become dislodged, cut pieces of cloth or string that are long enough to reach the bottom of the reservoir and are also flexible enough to be pressed into the potting medium.
  • Step 2: Saturate your string or the strips of cloth you've chosen to use by soaking them.
  • Step 3: To prevent the wick from dripping and causing damage to any good furniture, especially wood pieces, place your plants in a location that is away from those items. 
  • Step 4: Run the wick from the filled reservoir into your planter, burying the string or cloth at least five centimetres below the surface, and then press the soil firmly around your wick to hold it in place.

  • Before embarking on your trip, it is recommended that you put this strategy through its paces by putting it to the test for a period of a few days.

    Relocate your Houseplants

    Move your plants to a space that receives less light than normal (but not too dark either) if you’re going to be away for more than 1-2 weeks. This slows down their thirst and will prevent the plants from becoming overly dry during your absence.

    This will help keep the moisture level in your potting medium stable and keep you from overwatering any houseplants you may have. 

    This is especially true for your more tropical plants, such as Peace lilies, Calathea, and Ferns, which require consistent moisture. However, do not neglect your Pothos, Hoya, or Philodendron, as they’ll often dry out quickly when left unattended, causing stress and a decline in health.

    When it comes to your more succulent houseplants, which require direct sunlight to thrive, such as String of Pearls, String of Buttons, or even your Spekboom, it is best to move them to a location without direct sunlight but where they still receive an adequate amount of light. If you are gone for a long time, especially several weeks, the direct sun will dry out your succulents and can possibly lead to severe underwatering. However, avoid putting them in a very dark area because this will cause stretching and make them look less attractive.

    Holiday Plant Care Checklist: What to do with your houseplants before travelling

    Creating clusters of Plants

    Clustering your plants in an environment that is naturally higher in humidity will help maintain moisture levels in the soil. If you have a bathroom that receives bright to medium light, it is an excellent place to "store" your plants while you are away, particularly if you have a bathroom that receives bright to medium light. 

    If, on the other hand, the amount of light that is present in your bathroom is on the lower end of the spectrum, we recommend choosing a room or space that is on the smaller side and placing a pail or a few bowls of water in that location so that the water can evaporate and bring additional moisture into the air. If you have a spare room or kitchen that gets plenty of natural light, either of those would be ideal for this purpose.

    Let the Light In

    It is recommended that you let some light in by not closing your blinds or curtains completely. Your plants rely on light to live, and a lack of it can cause a variety of problems that are difficult to fix. These problems include stunted growth and stress, both of which leave your plants more vulnerable to being infested by pests. 

    Holiday Plant Care Checklist: What to do with your houseplants before travelling

    Pest Proof your Holiday

    Separate any plants that might have pests in them from the rest of your collection and put them in quarantine. You could also give your houseplants an additional layer of protection by giving them a preventative spray with an organic pesticide such as Pyrol. This would help to mitigate any problems that may arise while you are away.

    Consider Airflow

    When grouping plants together in a cluster, it is important to leave some room between each individual plant. This will prevent pests from being able to hop from one plant to another while also ensuring that there is sufficient airflow between each plant.

    We also recommend that you either slightly crack a window or set a fan to its most gentle setting on a timer in the room that you have decided to use, without the breeze blowing directly on the plants. This will allow for the circulation of air. As a result, this will help prevent the air from becoming stale and stuffy, which are the ideal conditions for fungal growth. 

    Get some Help

    The majority of houseplants can go without you for a week or two without any noticeable decline in health. And if they are succulents, then even longer!

    Most houseplants, especially in summer, will need some attention after 2 weeks. Make sure you choose your plant friend wisely—too much plant love (ehm, watering) won’t be helpful. Advise them on the specifics of what you want them to do. And refer them to our blog or plant care pages for any additional reading. We have many folks come in after the holidays to replace plants that were overwatered by friends!

    The majority of houseplants are hardy enough to make it without their owner for a week or two. By taking a few easy steps to get them ready for your absence, you can reduce the amount of damage done to your plants and hopefully create a flourishing urban jungle.

    And now off you go! Enjoy your break…

    Holiday Plant Care Checklist: What to do with your houseplants before travelling


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