The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, including your houseplants. If you’re hosting a big family Christmas dinner you’ll be too busy to make sure everything gets watered on time, and you never know what those adorable visiting kids and pets might get up to if plants are accessible. If you’re going away somewhere for a well-deserved break, who’s going to water your plants while you’re gone? Is your housesitter a plant person, or are they likely to just overwater everything?
Here are some tips for holiday-proofing your houseplants in Bettendorf, whether you’re hosting Christmas or getting away for vacation.
Before People Come Over for Festivities
If there will be children or pets visiting your home for the holidays, its a good idea to take some precautions. While your plants may already be pet-safe and kid-friendly, you don’t want to deal with a dog throwing up leaves, or potting soil all over the floor thanks to a rowdy toddler, or a tipsy friend accidentally knocking a beverage into a plant pot.
Check your plants to see if they need watering a few days before your event. Get it done early so you don’t need to think about it until after your event is over.
Move your plants temporarily. If you can get them higher and out of reach of little fingers and paws, that should be enough. If you can’t get them out of reach, consider placing them in a spare bedroom and keeping the door closed until your visitors are gone.
Before You Go On Vacation
The amount of prep your plants will need before you go on vacation depends on how long you’ll be gone. If you’re just gone for a long weekend, or even up to a week, they probably don’t need much extra care than normal. Just make sure you water them before you leave. If you’re going to be gone longer than a week, you’ll need to put in a little more work.
1. Inspect all your plants and make sure no one is showing signs of stress or pests. If there are pests on any plant, quarantine it in a room by itself and treat aggressively before you leave.
2. Clean up any yellowing leaves or drying tips.
3. Move your plants away from any air vents, drafts, and direct sunlight so they don’t dry out as quickly.
4. Group your plants together. While they’re close together, they create a bit of a microclimate which helps them retain humidity.
5. Water them deeply a day or two before you leave. If your pots have drainage holes, let them sit in a tray of water and soak up as much as they can for a few hours.
6. Turn down the furnace a bit. The cooler temperatures will slow evaporation and help your houseplants retain moisture.
7. Set up a watering system. If you’re going to be gone for over a week and don’t have a plant-loving friend to water them for you, you’ll want to set up some sort of watering system. One option is watering spikes or plant nannies. There are a few versions of watering spikes; you can get the glass or plastic bulbs that you fill up, or you can get terracotta spikes that you can attach to a wine bottle. Simply fill the wine/water bottle with water, put the spike on it, and then push the spike into the soil in your plant pot.
8. Add some humidity. You may not want to leave humidifiers running while you’re away, but your plants will still need humidity. You can make humidity trays for your plants while you’re gone with drip trays or glass baking dishes. Simply fill your baking dishes with water, set a wire rack on top, and then set your plant pots on top of the rack. If you’ve got taller plants with large leaves, even just placing them around the edges of the dish will help them with humidity. Even a black-thumbed house sitter can fill the dishes, if needed, without causing your plants any problems.
If you’re heading out on holidays or hosting holiday events, make sure you set your plants up for survival! There’s nothing sadder than coming home to dead plants because you forgot to water them before you left Iowa behind. If you need some equipment, like a moisture meter, or watering spikes, or tips and advice, stop by Wallace’s Garden Center before you leave. We can help you holiday-proof your plants so you can enjoy some R&R on vacation.