One dilemma every plant parent has to face now and again is how to water the plants while on holiday. Lucky you if you have someone to entrust your plants with. If you don’t, you will have to find ways to keep your plants well-hydrated while you are away.
There are different methods you can make use of to water your plants while you’re away. However, before setting up any of these methods, it would help that you group your plants together. Separate water-loving plants from those that require less watering. Water-loving plants will benefit from self-watering methods while plants that are drought tolerant will not. So, it is best not to water succulent-type plants and just leave them be.
For water-loving plants, let’s move forward to the various methods you could utilize.
This method is very simple. You can use a wick that’s mostly used in candles. This is made up of cotton rope. This will be used to absorb and transfer water from the water container into the soil of your plant. An alternative to this is Capillary Matting.
Cut the cotton rope just enough to bridge the distance from your water container and into the pot. Place the other end into the container of water and bury the other end several inches into the soil. It is a good idea to shelter the rope from the elements as it can dry before it reaches the soil, so consider wrapping it in nylon to maintain moisture. Also cover the container of water to slow down evaporation.
Make sure there is enough water in the container to sustain the length of time that you will be away. You can test this for a period of time before you go away so you know what to expect. There are specialised types of pots with internal wick watering systems in the market knows as self watering pots. e.g. Lechuza.
Drip System (Bottle Method)
Using a repurposed plastic bottle, create a hole on the cap. Fill the bottle with water. Turn the bottle upside down and bury it half way into the soil. Be careful not to damage the roots of the plants. The water inside the bottle will drip into the soil constantly. In order to regulate water flow, make sure the hole is not too large.
Ensure that drainage holes are also present in the pot. This will allow excess water to flow out of the container.
An olla is a low-fired, clay ceramic vessel that is being used as an ancient technique for irrigation. a regular unglazed pot without drainage holes will also work as long as it is covered. These vessels have porous texture and so water will naturally diffuse from the olla into the soil.
These containers are buried into the soil while the opening is exposed to the surface. It is then filled with water. Once the soil is dry, it will draw water from the olla using osmosis.
Olla irrigation is recommended for plants with a fibrous root system. This also ensures that the plant is deeply watered.
Water trays are used for bottom-up watering. A tray is half-filled with water then the pot with holes is placed on the tray in such a way that the bottom reaches the water. The water will be in direct contact with the soil in the pot through its drainage holes and will allow the roots of the plant to take up water as it needs it.
However, you should do this with great caution. We suggest that you use this method on large plants with high water requirements. The water level should not be too high to prevent damaging the roots due to waterlogging.
If you’re someone who’s always on the go but would still want to tend to plants, it is a good idea to incorporate water gel into the soil before planting. Water gel contains water spring crystals that can absorb several hundred times their own weight of water and reduced the . When water is needed, these crystals will release them to the plants.
Mix well with your soil medium before planting using 5g (one scoop) per 5 litres of compost. Water well and leave to soak for 1-2 hours before planting. This water gel will save your plant (for a little while) when you’re away and unable to water.
It may take some time to master these methods and there is no guarantee that one method will work on the same set of plants. There are times that you need to combine these methods to cater to various plants. Give any of these methods a try and figure out what suits you best.