How to keep indoor flowers alive during vacation
Make sure you regulate the temperature in your home to prevent flowers from wilting early. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Guitrau)
C.L. Fornari is a writer, garden consultant, professional speaker and radio host who is dedicated to creating beautiful landscapes and successful gardeners. She gardens on Cape Cod, blogs at WholeLifeGardening.com, and offers other garden articles at GardenLady.com.
Many residents in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic annually escape the cold weather by vacationing to warmer regions during the winter. Whether this vacation lasts for a few days or for three months, many are faced with the problem of keeping their flowers alive while they're gone.
Indoor flowers not only add natural beauty to a home, but often have sentimental value as well. This leaves people pondering how to keep their mother's African violet or the ivy snipped from their daughter's bridal bouquet from dying while they're on vacation.
There are several variables, such as time and temperature, that come into play with a flower's survival. "If it's just for a week and the plants aren't in the direct sun, people could just water them thoroughly and they'll be fine," says David Ramsey, assistant general manager at highly rated The Rhoads Garden Inc. in North Wales, Pa. Flowers in direct sun use more water than those in indirect light, so pulling flowers away from west- or south-facing windows help to conserve moisture.
The temperature of a house also determines if the plants can persist untended. Flowers will stay damp longer in houses kept around 65 degrees. Most indoor flowers suffer if you allow the temperatures to dip below 55 degrees for any length of time, however, so colder isn't better.
"If the plants aren't too big, some people will put an inch of water in the bathtub and put their plants in there," says Jennifer Leighton, sales associate at highly rated New England Nurseries in Bedford, Mass. Although this approach extends the time you can leave your flowers, take care plants aren't kept too wet and rot.
There are also products you can stick into a flowerpot that add moisture to the plant over time. "The Plant Nanny is an example," Ramsey says. "It's a glass watering globe that slowly releases water into the soil."
There comes a point, after about a week, when the human touch is needed. Many pet-sitting businesses will water indoor flowers while clients are on vacation. "I'm a pet sitter who also offers the care of houseplants," says Madeline Irwin, owner of the highly rated Madeline, Paws and Claws Pet Sitter in Philadelphia. Irwin reports that her clients sometimes leave explicit instructions about their houseplants' needs.
"For one couple, I leave little notes about which plants I've watered, because some of them need watering every four or five days, while others need it once a week," Irwin says. "These plants are a part of their family and they really care about living things, so it's important to them.