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Plant care while on vacation

Summer is vacation time. While it is fun and relaxing to enjoy new sites and activities, care of living plants that keep home green and beautiful year round can be worrisome. You water all those beauties before you leave but wonder if they will be severely wilted or worse when you return.

Create a plant self-waterer.

Aqua globes, those round glass balls with a pointed neck, came on the market a few years back. They were advertised as the ultimate plant watering solution for the lazy or forgetful gardener. They are pretty and sparkly but can be pricey, even in those “as seen on tv” stores.

There is a much easier and cheaper way to achieve the same plant watering results while on vacation. All you need are glass or plastic bottles from soda, salad dressing, or similar products. Follow these simple steps:

1. Select bottles with necks long enough so they can be pushed 1-2 inches into the soil in your flower pots. The opening should be about soda bottle top width. If your bottles have a wider opening, save the lid and punch 2-3 small holes in the lid.

2. Match the bottles to the appropriate plants. Larger plants will need larger (1-2 liter) bottles. Smaller plants will need 8-16 oz. bottles.

3. Thoroughly wash and rinse all containers.

4. Water your plants thoroughly and appropriately for each plant’s needs.

5. Fill bottles with water.

6. Depending on water needs of each plant, punch holes in caps or discard caps.

7. Quickly upend full bottles over pots and insert them up to 2 inches into the soil in the pots. You can use your finger as a neck cover as you tip the bottle over to prevent spills.

8. Balance bottles bottom up. In most cases you may want to support them so they won’t tip as they may to top heavy when inverted. Use plant stakes, old flatware, straws, anything that will support the bottle.

9. The water will gradually drain from the inverted bottle into the pot as the soil dries.

10. When you arrive home your plants should be alive and well. They may need a little TLC, depending on how long you have been away, but this method greatly increases their survival chances.

Some other plant care tips involve a little more action.

Consider grouping your plants together whenever you are away. This slows evaporation and helps them retain moisture. Place like need plants in the same groupings, preferably in a less sun exposed location. To keep moisture levels up, consider placing plant groupings in a large tray, boot mat or even a small cement mixing tray, available in big box hardware stores. Fill the container with an inch or two of water and the plants will absorb it from the roots. Be sure to take them out of their individual drip saucers first.

With adequate preparation most plants that are not overly fussy will be fine for up to two weeks.

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