Wendy's WanderingsWendy Wilber

July 6, 2022

Before You Go

Our hot Florida summer is not disappointing us this year. Gardeners, please be careful in the heat. Only work outdoors during the cooler hours of the day, drink lots of water, and pace yourself. If the scorching summer temperatures get to be too much, schedule a long break somewhere cool.

Heading for the mountains or a spot with a cooler climate is a strong plan B. If a getaway is in your plans you will need to vacation-proof your plants. Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ practices like proper mulching and efficient irrigation on a timer will keep your outdoor plants healthy while you are away.

If you don't have microirrigation on your container plants it is best to group them together in a shady spot and water them well before you leave. Putting hanging baskets on the ground in the shade will prevent them from drying out in your absence. Consider using pots with reservoirs or a self-watering device if moving container plants around is difficult.

Most indoor plants will be fine on their own for about a week if they have been watered well. When you are going to be gone for more than a week it would be best to have a friend or plant sitter come by to water your inside plants. To make it easier for the plant sitter, group plants with similar watering needs together. Notice how much you water these plants and leave in your instructions specific amounts like "¼ cup of water once a week." If you're like me, you may put a plain nursery pot in a decorative container without drainage. These plants should be removed from the non-draining containers so they won't get accidentally overwatered and have wet feet for weeks.

Remember that warm air and direct light will dry out your plants quickly, so keep the thermostat on the cool side. Self-watering devices made of glass, terracotta, or even plastic bottles work on large indoor plants, too. Experiment and discover which one works best for you if you are going to be on the road often. If you become a frequent traveler, consider selecting drought-tolerant plants that can go a few weeks without watering. With good planning and preparation, you will return from your cool-weather escape to healthy plants.

-- Wendy Wilber

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