How to keep houseplants healthy while you’re away on vacation?

If you’re going away for a few days, water your plants just before leaving, then put them where they’ll be away from direct sunlight. In winter, if you turn the heat down, leave them in the middle of a warm room; place tender plants atop the refrigerator or freezer, where they will benefit from the warm air emerging from the appliance.

A longer absence during the growing season calls for better care. You can have a friend act as sitter, but attach instructions to each plant to keep the sitter from killing the plants with kindness-by over watering them.

You can safeguard a plant for two summer weeks by watering it thoroughly and putting it, pot and all, into a large. transparent plastic bag. Keep the bag from touching the foliage by inserting sticks into the soil. Seal the top of the bag with a twist. If the plant is very large, enclose only the pot in the bag and tie the bag top around the plant stem – you can safely leave it this way for up to a week.

For longer periods, try any of these self-watering methods. 1. Using individual plant wicks (available at garden centers), connect one or more pots to a container full of water. 2. For plants in clay pots, weight a bath towel with bricks in the bathtub, and run water until it rises just above the tops of the bricks. Place the plants on the bricks. 3. If the plants are in plastic pots, get a felt capillary mat from a garden center. put the mat into a sink with the drain open, place the plants on it, and let the faucet drip continuously. Or place one end of a capillary mat in a small tub of water and put the other end of the mat on a counter with plants on it. Clay pots are too thick to let the soil come into contact with a mat, but you can use a mat with them if you insert a wick into the pot’s drainage hole.