We have some vacations planned for the summer and we will be away for 2 weeks or longer. We needed a way to water our plants while we are away and we don’t know anyone who can come over and water them for us. Our sitting area also gets a lot of sun and our plant’s soil drys out very fast. I decided to spend a few weeks testing different methods and systems before we leave to see which one works the best, and is more likely to keep our plants alive. I order plant bottle drip irrigation spikes, plant watering tubes, watering wicks, and tried the pressure bottle system as well as leaving the plants in pools of water. I tried all of these methods for 2 to 7 weeks and here is what happened with each.
Bottle Drip Irrigation Systems
This method uses regular water bottles attached to drip spikes to water plants slowly over time. I also used the pipes with this to try and help control the flow of water. This method took the longest to test and was by far the hardest. In order for this system to water your plants for weeks in mild whether it would need to water them at a rate of 1 tablespoon a day. This would add up to one cup of water a week, which is what the average potted houseplants needs. That adds up to 1 drop of water a minute. Unfortunately, this system is unreliable as it will stop dripping even on the highest setting, sometimes for reasons unknown. Sometimes the reason is an air bubble or a truck would go by and shack the ground and too many drops would come out and it would stop and or it would just stop. Once they stop, they will not start back up no matter what setting you have them on. The only way they work perfectly is when the valves are all the way open and it goes so fast that it would use all of the water in 1 minute.
Wick Watering System
The wick watering system uses a cotton wick to slowly release water as your plant’s soil starts to dry. I try this method many different ways. Here are all of the ways I used them, above the pot watering, under the pot watering, same level watering, in the pot, under the soil, on top of the soil, knot watering, and drip watering. The only one that worked well was level watering, which is when you have the water source the same leaves as the plant. With the other methods the plant would get no water or too much water (flooded) or the wick would dry out and the water would stop flowing to the plant. With level-watering the wick seemed to be less likely to dry out, but it did happen when the water level got to low. The other problem is that when the wick dries out and the soil dries out the wick will not regain moister and the plant will not get water. This system works best on small plants or really big plants that need a lot of water every day. Basically you couldn’t flood them if you tried.
Pressure Bottle Watering
I don’t have a photo of this one because it came out blurry, but this system uses a large bottle with two small holes poked on different sides of the bottom. You fill the bottle with water and close the lid and place it on a tray with the plants. The bottle only releases water when the level of water in the tray goes below the holes and the water stops when it gets to the top of the holes. The water only goes down when the plant soaks up the water. So your plants only get the amount of water they need every day. This method worked amazingly and I highly recommend this for anyone going out of town for long periods of time. The only thing you need to be careful of is making sure you have a large enough bottle water to last for as long as you are away.
Pools of Water
I couldn’t get a photo of this because you take a plant, and that has holes in the bottom of its pot and place it in a larger pot that doesn’t have holes in the bottom. We have a lot of plants sitting in decorative pots, so this was easy for us. You fill the bottom pot or the decorative with as much water as your plant will need while you are away, and it will soak it up as needed. Most plants need one cup of water a week, and to be on the safe side, especially when its hot out I like to add more. I would rather have them have too much water and survive than die because they didn’t have enough. I also highly recommend this method for keeping plants alive while you’re away.
I hope this post helps you and your plants while you travel. Feel free to comment with questions, tips of your own, or just to say hi.