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Who cares for the plants while away? Do you get away?

10 years ago


No one yet..I have not been away for more than one day since I some how collected more than 300 plants of all types!

What I can say is that I am training two people to see which one fits the bill to water all of mine while I go away for the first time in 5 years and pay them 100 dollars to do so or 50 bucks if they fail just one plant..
That should be a challenge..ha

I left that job to my Mother one year when I got away for just one weekend, and I lost 4 plants on the window sill..

My sister got rid of every last one of her plants because she would kill them by the time she goit back.

By brother would never get any because he says they limit where you can go, when, how long and can make a slave out of you...

What do you do? Do you get to leave them for days? Do you even bother?
What do you do with your plants in order for them to be healthy when you get back?
What about that unexpected stay in the hospital?
Does this concern you at all?

It's fine when we are healthy and able to tend to them as we please and the way we want....


Comments (23)

  • woodnative
    10 years ago

    I wish I lived near you mike I would be happy to help out for you! Hard to get people to water right. I try to group plants together in a shady area for ease of the person watering and it works out well usually. Succulents will be ok and small plant that dry easy go in large Ziplocs in the shade

  • petrushka (7b)
    10 years ago

    i sub-irrigate using water-wicks dropped in water-reservoirs.
    of course i amend the soil accordingly with 50% perlite. i was told it is considered hydro, even though i call it semi-hydro, since i use mostly various reg potting mixes (cactus or AV or jungle mix using exoticrainforest formula) with perlite.
    it won't work with 511 or gritty - widely used by a lot of people here, though.
    for very large pots - 12" and more wicking does not work that well - the top dries out too much. then i just use ceramic watering spikes - sometimes 2 to a pot.
    i have A LOT of plants in an apt in a big city. and i can't set up any auto-dripping watering using pumps/electrics either - too dangerous.
    so it's strictly passive. i certainly won't trust even DH with watering, even when he is there to do it ;). i have 100-150 plants... instructions are not feasible...
    figuring out how much water each plant will need per week /month! takes some time to figure out.
    occasionally spikes fail due to algae growth in tubing (next time i know what to do for that), but other then that i had very few damages. a couple of plants went dormant or dropped a few leaves, but they recovered.
    last time after 2mo! i only chucked 1 ivy - just gave up, could've saved it too, but i had too many ivies as is. so it went.
    i even figured out how to put succulents/sansi/jades on wicks!

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  • Starlight Botanist
    10 years ago

    Hey mike!

    Great question, should bring about some interesting conversations.

    We have about 50-60 plants now, and are limiting the size of our collection at this point. No larger!! (well until we see another we just "have" to have.) lol.

    If we move them to lower light, almost all our plants can go 10 days, if kept darker and cooler, and a humidifier running on low in the room helps.

    But some of them are just bigger drinkers, and low and behold, those same plants ended up in terra cotta pots. So, about 5 or 6 days in they start to have issues, even when its a bit darker and cooler. So we bough a cheap irrigation system, that was designed to be used on a patio. It waters very very slowly, however if the plants are kept cooler, its enough to keep them from running into problems. We have tested it up to 14 days.

    Of course, one of the issues is the water tank. Can't put any fertilizer in it, and our water is absolutely terrible here, so bad it starts going rancid after about 24 hours, even if kept in a dark closet! So we have to use distilled or filtered water, or add some hydrogen peroxide seems to work good.

    I think over time i want to reduce our collection, down to the plants we like the most. i think we started getting all kinds of things, not really understanding what our favorites were. Now we have learned so much about plants and know what we like and don't like. There are 10-15+ that i could care less about and may try and give away.

    I hope you can find a suitable water-er mike, no one likes to come home to casualties!!

  • jujujojo_gw
    10 years ago

    Two weeks vacation is no problem.

  • christine1950
    10 years ago

    Vacation ? Whats that? Between the plants & pets I dont get away LOL Great post to read everyone's replies...

  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
    10 years ago

    I love my plants as much as one can love something that's not a person, but I would not let them stop me from taking any possible vacations.

    We were gone for 10 days last June. I asked my Mom to come by to see if anything was thirsty. The weather happened to be mild during that time, didn't even get to 90, and rainy. She said she didn't think anything needed water, and hadn't watered anything. Like others have said, I moved about everything out of direct sun, into high-wind positions, just in case. As I've confessed here many times, I'm a classic over-waterer, and plants are rarely as thirsty as I think they are. Everything was fine.

    While plants are inside for winter, hardly any need water more often than about 2 weeks. I check them once a week or so, water the dry ones. Are your plants inside or out? How long will you be gone?

    If you have plants drying to the point where they could die in that time, bigger pots could help a lot. Before I left, I did some repotting (was the season anyway) to try to make sure all plants were in pots big enough to 'last' that long. I'd already been on a campaign to get rid of all tiny pots, which knock and blow over so easily.

    Hope you have an awesome time on your vacay!

  • meyermike_1micha
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Purple..Well everyone lol... And quite interesting what you all do...

    Purple...I plan on being away for at least a week..I am hoping to go when the weather warms up enough that the person watering has a much easier time by being able to use my hose and mass water..

    Many have to watered everyday since it can get hot in the greenhouse and under lights..I also have orchids with exposed roots on tree bark and airy pots that have to be misted almost everyday when it gets hot in there..
    Many plants in smaller than 4 inch pots dry out because of heat.
    Then there are the houseplants..
    I try very hard to use just rain water on all my plants which is in 30 gallon barrels kept in the basement..A real challenge for some..

    Many of my succulents which much be kept in mixes that dry out very quickly are under lights which I will just shut off...

    Even if I could find someone that could water for me, I am always concerned that they will over or under water, something that take years for us to finally master..

    Christine...No kidding.. I actually know one member here that will not take a vacation at all..

    Smish, I hear ya about bigger pots..BUt then again many plants I have would get lost in

    Petrushka..The things we do for our plants, right?

    Woodnative..Great idea's..I too wish I had someone living next to me from here, or who knew plants like us..
    They would inherit some of the rarest and nice plants if god forbid anything happen to me.

    Juju..Thank you

    I can tell you this..

    Between having to load a sprayer and lift the outer pool solar cover to get into the greenhouse to water.
    God down the stairs into my basement and collect rain water for my orchids..
    Water my succulents and over wintered stuff in the basement.
    Water my dormant stuff in the shed and spare room.
    Make sure the plants don't dry out on the what can be a hot porch when the sun is out.
    Take a trip upstairs and water all them up there.
    Make sure the plants scattered about the house get watered..

    I really think I'll split up the work and group plants together based on many ideas..

    My mother can water the plants scattered about the house down stairs..
    My friend can water anything left inside the house and basement..
    Everyone can use tap water.

    I'll wait until the hose can no longer freeze and can be used. This way the girl I hired can use it easily watering the ones on the porch.
    then I will roll back the pool cover so one can easily get inside and use the hose then too.
    Waiting until the weathers really warms will allow anyone water every day every day with fear of over watering...

    Lol...Did you all get that?

    Goodness, then there is my birds and cat!

    I wonder how many more here have been confined to their homes still, or what they did to be able to get away????


  • plantomaniac08
    10 years ago

    I think I fall in the category of confined to my home. I don't trust anyone with my plants lol. I don't think my Hubby would know the first thing about who to water when. I've been growing plants so long I can just pick up a pot or feel a leaf and go, "yep, needs a drink" (okay, I'm not completely "that good," I still stick my fingers in the soil too).

    My Mother tends to underwater things while my MIL keeps things too wet. So, of the three people I could think of to tend to my plants, I don't trust any of them to keep mine alive. ;)

    Besides, if it's not for my plants, I'm sort of confined a little bit because of our fur child. I don't trust her with anyone really (well, I do trust my Mother at least, but her two Chihuahuas don't seem to care for our dog). My MIL has two large dogs (60 and 80 pounds respectively), so our small Beagle mix wouldn't fare well with them. Most places don't let you take your pets with you (she's our child and more well behaved than some human children, I don't see why not lol).

    So, we don't take vacations, but it's more because of the dog than the plants. I'd be devastated if something were to happen to her. She was a rescue from an animal shelter, so we do our best to give her the best life. I read of a neighboring "kennel" that had accidentally allowed one of the dogs to get loose and it got ran over. The owners weren't notified of the dog's passing until they returned from their vacation. So... call me scared to death to leave her with anyone/anywhere. Thanks for reading, even if I did get off-topic.


    This post was edited by plantomaniac08 on Mon, Mar 17, 14 at 11:26

  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
    10 years ago

    Mike, from looking at so many of your so-awesome plants, there's no way I would be critical of anything you're doing, and read your last post twice, but don't think I do get it. Not sure I understand your concern about overwatering but yet your helper(s) will be using the hose? Can you turn down the heat in the GH somehow?

    If the plants are really that fussy, I wouldn't be able to keep them alive, and already mentioned I don't have the patience for small pots. You said you have some 2", but I meant 6" as too small - that's too fussy for me. The misting you mentioned, I'd probably have already installed some timers for that. I go sometimes 5-6 days without doing anything to plants but look at them, and wouldn't (don't) worry at all about not watering everything for that amount of time.

    All I can offer is moral support, so you definitely get that! Hope things go just as you want. It sounds like you and I are on opposite ends of a care spectrum, and knowing many same plants can live through both of us is pretty cool.

    Sending tons of good vibes!

  • summersunlight
    10 years ago

    Like Purple, it's not unusual for me to go days on end without doing anything to my plants even when I am here, so I would not have any problem leaving them alone for a while. Any plant that is so sensitive that it would die if it went unwatered for a couple of days would not last in my care. I have a lot of succulents, plants that store water in tubers, etc. not surprisingly. :)

    Another thing that has helped me has been converting my plants to hydroculture. With this method, if I wanted to, I could just sit plants in a large water container so they would not go without water while I'm gone. It's really easy.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Info on hydroculture

  • Lamora
    10 years ago

    Going out for a few days/weeks? what is that?? lol

    When I would go OTR with my husband for a few weeks, we would worry about them. My dad and brother? HA! they wouldn't know what to do. So we just water them really well just before we leave and hope for the best. So far, we haven't had a problem with that... but then it has been a while since we have gone anywhere for a few days.. never mind weeks.

    Guess we have been lucky in that department-- /knocking on wood.. ;)

  • AlexisS
    10 years ago

    Hey Mike, if you're close to E.Lansing maybe see if any students in the hort program at Mich. State would water for you? Or maybe see if someone in a local gardening club would be reliable enough? An employee of a local greenhouse who wants to pick up extra cash?

    I don't have nearly as a big or specialized collection as you but I don't water much at all in the winter and in the summer, everybody goes outside and need to be watered once a day or so, and that's easy for my plant-sitter.

  • lii_sama 6
    10 years ago

    Wow and wow and one more time wow. Leaving plants for a while when they are outside in the Summer is okay, as long as they have enough humidity in the air. Since last few Summers had exactly that my plants were fine. But I wonder who takes their plants with them from work when they have vacations? I don't trust my colleague so I take them with me and put outside. They enjoy the weather and I am sure they won't get killed while I am not at work.

  • pirate_girl
    10 years ago

    Hi Mike,

    Have you asked Al (Tapla) how he handles this?

  • meyermike_1micha
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Hi Karen....If I recall, he hardly gets to get away for more than a few days..Besides, since he is a friend of mine, I am sure if he had any input, he would of offered it here by now..)

    Alexis...Thanks..But I livein Ma. I wish there was something like that..

    Lii...I don't either. But then if it meant my sanity, which it does now, I don't mind loosing one or two, as long as it is not my favorite ones. I guess they can be replaced.

    Summer..Thank you for your input.

    Planto..Too funny..If there were more people and friends like you living around me, I would have no problems at all...
    Now, one of the people that was suppose to care for my plants is from P.R..Perfect right? Not now. Now that I found out he is on drugs and has not shown up for work with me 4 consecutive times! I had to fire him..Now I am only left to one girl who just graduated high shcool who's willing to trian once the hose can be used and I will pay her 100 dollars.,.

    Purple....I don't think over watering will be an issue..YOu are right since most of my mixes are fast draing...I actually thing under watering would be more of a concern..But, if my helper has access to the hose, past this frigid weather, then I think they will be ok..I am beginning to relax a bit knowing that the warmer weather if it finally gets here will make things a whole lot easier...If I took off while all my plants are inside and scattered about, then I would worry a bit....

    Well, here is hoping I can finally go to a much warmer climate at the end of April for some RnR and a bit of a thawing out...

    It is amazing to see how many here handle there plants while away..Great ideas too.


  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
    10 years ago

    A few years ago, when I still had loads of plants, there was a couple of occasions that I had to leave town for several days. At that time, I had numerous bonsai specimens, some of them pretty valuable......and needing to be watered EVERY DAY! Sometimes twice.

    I grouped them together outside under some shade, found just the right sprinkler and installed a timer at the hose bibb, set for once a day for twenty minutes, which was how long it took for the sprinkler to do the job.

    Mike, I attached a garden hose two way splitter to my garden hose, then a timer to each of those. I set one for the bonsai and the other one for three times a week....more than I would have watered my indoor plants normally, but with a coarse medium, I knew that they would be okay. All of the parts bought inexpensively at Home Depot or Lowes (can't remember) .

    It took some time troubleshooting my little system, and I gave it a week long trial run, but it worked really well!

  • nomen_nudum
    10 years ago

    Lots of interesting products in the irrigation department offering intergrated control boxes that can be set up for
    mutiple timing schedule for daily, weeky or hour by hour what ever may be needed The same set up is programed for start stop timing for varied areas as needed. Offering drip lines short distance / long distance spayers and misters.

    Have a passion for an even more high tech solution ?. Just the other day I was at a garden shop that has a heater/ humidifier set. It is set up and adjusted to control all the watering needs of every plant in the shop.

  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
    10 years ago

    Just got back last night from visiting my niece in Raleigh, we left Friday afternoon. I don't see any wilted plants, and hope that condition holds until plants go outside Thursday, FINALLY! We had fun and got to see some of her family who I hadn't seen since the 90's. Thought I'd never get my son out of the hotel pool the last night.

    Although a hotel room doesn't have the comforts of home, the total lack of responsibilities while there is soooo decadent! Hope you have the same bliss. Whatever you finagle/decide Mike, I hope it goes well and you have a relaxing, enjoyable vacation! Really worth doing, IMO.

    Have you scheduled your trip yet? And where exactly in MA are your plants you? LOL....!

  • plantomaniac08
    10 years ago

    I just read your post. I'm sorry to hear your "friend" was doing drugs and you had to fire him. $100 for watering your plants? How many plants do you have? I'm afraid of the answer lol. If you lived nearby, I'd water them for you and wouldn't ask for $100...


  • emerald1951
    10 years ago

    Hi Mike, long time no see, I have been so busy with work..yuck....taking care of plants while away can get tricky...but for me at times they do better, as I tend to over care for them....sounds good to get away and enjoy...most of my plants are cactus or succulents now, so they are easier, they are happy to be left alone...but yes you have the orchids and others that are time consuming to water..
    I too, if I lived here you would be glad to help you out, you have helped me with problems with my plants many times..
    I hope you get it all worked out and you have a great time on your know a great vacation for me is when I can stay home and just work with my plants and my gardens outside...and our weather is kinda warming up and the snow is melting so soon I can get out in the gardens.....linda

  • Danielle Rose
    10 years ago

    I just went away for two weeks, and goodness, did I worry!! I have about 40 plants at work, and I divided them up between two people. The bulk of them are succulents, and one coworker gave those a sip twice while I was gone, with the instruction "when in doubt, UNDER water," my logic being that underwatering can be quickly remedied when I return ... I can't bring back plants with root rot! The orchids and other more sensitive plants went to another coworker who has a little experience with those kinds of plants. There are only 7 divas, so he was fine with the watering and misting.

    At home, I brought my orchids to my mother's house, and gave her the spritzing/watering routine, and the once-a-weekers stayed in my apartment and were watered once by a neighbor (I watered before I left and as soon as I got back, so they were still watered once a week).

    It was more difficult to arrange for plant care than it was to arrange for cat care! I'm told my coworkers kind of freaked out about it while I was away, because they know I love my plants. I need to make sure they know that I would never blame them if something went wrong, because I know they tried their best.

  • larry_b
    10 years ago

    Hello Mike,

    I make my pet (cat) sitter waters them. The woman who takes care of my cats also knows a little about plants. I set up a watering schedule for her while I'm gone and she does a pretty good job. I can be gone for a week at a time without worrying. Haven't tried longer than that, but can't imagine that it would be a problem.

    Funny thing is about the pet sitter before her. I told her that she would be watering plants, both inside and outside, during her half hour visit. She exclaimed to me that she wouldn't be able to play with the cats. I told her that they cats were old and didn't play much anymore. What I didn't tell her was that she was there to do work, not play. I get my money's worth out of my pet sitters. lol


  • meyermike_1micha
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Hey everyone....Thanks for all your tips and experiences...

    Larry....How are you? lol..You are too funny...I once almost hired a kid to water mine until he watered my fakes plastic ones too...

    Danielle..Congrats on that...If I meant away for a week and someone forgot to water my plants for just two days, many would croak..I've thought of having just succulents, but I can't seem to do away with my fragrant ones...

    Linda..Yes it has been a while..What's happening? I hope your fish made it this year..Boy it was brutal...All mine did. The water never froze because I kept it turbulent..Thanks for visiting and your ideas..
    I'm sure you would do that for me. You are so kind:-)))

    Planto..Thank you so much..Yes, it is a bummer..It makes my heart heavy with sadness..Such a good guy and destroying his family...I hope he recovers. He loves my plants and the thought of taking care of them got him and I excited..

    Purple...I am so glad you got to go away and came back to no issues...That's my plan...I hope you had a great time..You needed it I am sure..
    Yes, being able to wake up and go to bed any time you want is something I have not done in years...Not to have to look at the clock is a luxery..I miss those days.

    I live in Northern Ma...Just on the border of N.H almost near the coast....So it can get cold here still by May which leaves me no choice except to wait until the end of May when all are safe outside.

    Ia m hoping to go to Florida..Far from here. I tried that stay home and relax thing and it did not work out. All I wanted to do was work on the house and more..Not good.
    I am talking about sleeping on a beach for days or reading a book on a chair at teh beach or by a pool, maybe Pugs house, Laurs or Patty'

    I get up at 5 every day, run a cleaning buisiness, then work full time..Work out 4 days a week after work at 8 pm and then care for my parents about that. I also care for my home, feed the birds, cat, fish and


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