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8 Ways to Water Indoor Plants While You’re Away on a Vacation or Holiday

You can pack the kids off at grandma’s and send the pets to the kennel, but plants are harder to manage when you go on vacation. 

Plant care is important while your away on vacation, If you’re wondering how to water plants, we’ve got you covered. We’ve found eight practical ways to keep your plants from going thirsty. And, most of these homemade watering systems are fool-proof, cheap, and can be made from materials you already have. 

So, go on and take that much-needed vacation. Your plants will still be alive when you get back. 

8 Methods to Keeping Your Plants Hydrated While You’re Away 

If you have a hydroponic system like the best aerogarden, then you don’t have to worry about watering plants while on vacation. But if you use regular garden beds or pots, you’ll need to figure out a way to keep your plants happy and hydrated. And that’s what we’re here for.  

From DIY to store-bought, we’re going to teach you how to water plants while on vacation. 

1. Use A Wine Bottle

How to water plants when away? Skip the store-bought watering globes. You can use empty wine bottles to make an easy self-watering system for your indoor and outdoor potted plants (1). 

“A single 1.5 liter wine bottle can deliver water to a plant for anywhere from four to six weeks.”

If you have more plants than wine bottles, you don’t need to drink more wine (unless you want to). You can also use a beer bottle or any glass bottle. Keep in mind using a smaller bottle means less water capacity. 

What You’ll Need

  • Empty wine bottle with a screw top or cork
  • A nail or a pointy skewer
  • A plant
  • Water 

How To Set It Up

While you may like wine, your plants aren’t a fan of Merlot, Sauvignon, or any alcohol for that matter. So, the first thing you will want to do is wash the bottle with water and mild soap. 

Then, using a nail or a pointy skewer, poke a hole in the metal screw top or the cork. You want it big enough that water can get out but not too large that dirt can enter and clog the holes.

Once you’ve prepared your bottle, you can fill it with water. Now screw on the top.

Get your plant and give it a good soaking. You want the soil to be moist before you place the bottle in the pot.

Take the bottle and turn it upside down. You may want to place your finger over the top, so the water doesn’t leak out while you flip it. Place the neck of the bottle gently but deep into the potting soil of your potted plant. 

After a few hours, check your outdoor plants and make sure the water is draining properly. 

2. Bury A Plastic Bottle

Just like the wine bottle method, the water will slowly leave the plastic bottle and hydrate your garden plants. This trick works well if you have outdoor plants in large containers or a garden bed. We don’t recommend this method for small pots because you’ll need to bury the DIY plant waterer into the soil.

What You’ll Need

  • Plastic water bottles 
  • A nail
  • A plant
  • Water

How To Set It Up

Grab your empty plastic bottles and use the nail to make holes. You only need 3-4 holes on the side and 6-8 holes on the bottom.  

Unlike the wine bottle trick, you’re not going to turn the plastic bottle upside down. Instead, you’ll “plant’ the bottle standing up. You may have to dig a few inches to get it in the ground, though. Depending on how many plants you have, you can add more plastic bottles. Don’t bury the water bottle way too close to the plant roots. 

Don’t add water to the bottles yet. You should water the plants first – like you usually would. After watering, open the bottle cap and fill the bottles with water. Keep the bottles away from direct sunlight to minimize evaporation. 

3. Try The String Method

Stop wondering how to water indoor plants while on vacation. You can use this trick to hydrate indoor plants that don’t have extra soil space for a plastic or wine bottle watering system. 

What You’ll Need

  • Thick cotton string
  • Scissors
  • Bowl 
  • Water
  • Plant

How To Set It Up

First, cut a piece of cotton string. It should be long enough that you can bury it several inches deep into your potting soil and reach the bottom of the water bowl. If you don’t have a string lying around your house, you can use cotton fabric.

Take one end of the string and bury it into the potting soil. Then, place the other end in a water bowl. If the line is floating, you can keep it submerged by tying a small rock. 

The water will travel along the cotton rope and keep the soil moist. If you have herbs that grow well together, you can repot them in one container.  

Like the other methods mentioned, always soak pots with water. As your soil dries, it will absorb water. 

4. Place A Saucer Underneath The Pot 

Adding a saucer filled with water underneath the pot can also keep your plant hydrated while you’re on vacation. Be cautious, though. This trick may be super convenient to do, but excess water and moisture can encourage disease. If you want to avoid root rot, place plants where they can get enough sunlight. 

What You’ll Need

  • Saucer/Tray
  • Water
  • A potted plant 

How To Set It Up

Place a saucer or tray underneath the potted plant. Then, fill the tray with water. As the soil dries, the plant will absorb the water through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

5. Create A Mini-Greenhouse 

No, you don’t have to buy an indoor greenhouse for this trick to work. All you need is a plastic bag and some skewers. It only takes seconds to make a mini-greenhouse, and you can do it on your way out the door. You can use this plastic bag trick on as many plants that you have. 

What You’ll Need

  • Plastic sealable bag or plastic wrap
  • Plant
  • Water
  • Bamboo skewers (optional)

How To Set It Up

Water your plants first. Let the water drain off, and put the plant (together with the pot)  in a plastic sealable bag. You may need to stick some bamboo skewers into the soil to give the plant enough room. 

Make sure you keep the plant out of direct sunlight; otherwise, the bag could turn into a solar cooker and burn the plants from the heat

Then, close the sealable bag. When the water evaporates from the soil, it will condense inside the bag, and the plant will reabsorb it. It will also retain moisture.

You can also use plastic wrap:

Don’t worry. Your plant will still be able to breathe because air can still pass through the plastic (2). 

6. Use Self Watering Planters

Now, suppose you’d rather spend your time prepping for your vacation than making a DIY plant waterer system. In that case, you can always grab self-watering pots or self-watering vertical garden planters

At first glance, they look like ordinary pots, but they have a separate water reservoir and a wick system inside. While the process is pretty much the same as the string method, these planters are more attractive. The water reservoir is usually hidden below the potted plants. 

What You’ll Need

  • Self watering planter
  • Plant
  • Water

How To Set It Up

Place your plant in the self-watering planter and fill the reservoir with water. Make sure that the wick or string is connected to the water and soil.  

7. Invest In An Irrigation System 

If you want to water an entire garden and aren’t worried about the cost, you can look into an irrigation system. No, not the commercial kind. There are many drip irrigation systems for residential gardens. 

a working sprinkler irrigation system for the backyard
a working sprinkler irrigation system for the backyard

Most of them are so easy to use that you can connect them to a rain barrel or any deep water container instead of your home’s central water system. You can also attach a programmable timer to the drip system to release water according to your outdoor plants’ watering needs. 

If you have raised beds, check out this video: 

What You’ll Need

  • Drip irrigation system
  • A timer 

How To Set It Up

Purchase a drip irrigation system and install it in your garden. Then, connect the system to a timer. Don’t forget to program it according to your plants’ needs.

If you don’t want to fuss around with an irrigation system, using soaker hoses is a great alternative.  They appear like an ordinary garden hose, but they have hundreds of tiny holes designed to let the water drip slowly and evenly from the soil surface to the roots. 

8. Get A Plant Sitter

Are you going on a vacation for a few weeks? It’s hard to keep plants healthy without attention for that long – even established plants will begin to suffer. If that’s your situation, watering plants when away can be possible by asking your friend or neighbor to plant sit. 

What You’ll Need

  • A friend who likes plants

How To Set It Up

Ask your friend politely if they would come water your plants while you are away. It helps if they already like plants. If they need to visit frequently or you will be gone for a long time, you may want to give them a gift for their trouble. 

hire a plant sitter to water your plants when you're away
hire a plant sitter to water your plants when you’re away

If you don’t have a friend or family member with a “green thumb,” you can always hire a plant sitter. Rates can vary but expect to pay somewhere from $10-$20 per day (3). 

The Bottomline

Whether you have a Snake plant or rows of Arrowhead plants in hanging baskets, all plants require water. There are lots of practical ideas to keep your plants watered while you are away. Whether you want to put your DIY skills to the test or get a self-watering planter instead, what’s important is that your plants have access to water while you’re on vacation.

It doesn’t take long to set up any of these methods, and then you can rest easy that your plants will still be thriving when you return from your vacation.


Seedlings can survive around two days without water. Seedlings are much more delicate than mature plants. They will begin to suffer if the soil is not moist. If you are gone for more than a day or two, you should make sure you have a system in place for your seedlings. You can purchase self-watering planters specifically designed for seedlings.

Seedlings can survive around two days without water. Seedlings are much more delicate than established plants. They will begin to suffer if the soil is not moist. If you are gone for more than a day or two, you should make sure you have a system in place for your seedlings. You can purchase self-watering planters specifically designed for seedlings.

You can water plants in the evenings if you are using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system. If you are watering with a sprinkler or a hose, you should not water after dark because you may damage the foliage of your plants. 

The best time for watering plants is in the morning. It allows the water to reach the roots of your plants before evaporation begins to happen.

You should avoid watering plants midday because the sun will evaporate the water quickly, leaving little moisture for your plants.

  1. Repurposing Wine Barrels for Landscape Irrigation. Retrieved from:
  2. Use Plastic Bags As a Mini-Greenhouse While On Vacation. Retrieved from:
  3. How much does Plant Sitting cost. Retrieved from: