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How to water the plants while you’re away

It’s vacation season and that means there are a few things around the house that need to be looked after while we’re away.

One of those important (at least to me) things are the potted plants.

There are a couple of good options when it comes to keeping your plants watered while you are away:

  1. Ask a friend or neighbor to come water for you
  2. Use some sort of self-watering system

Last summer I had a friend come water a few plants and check on the chickens. This time around we’re a little more seasoned chicken owners and realize that they are just fine on their own for a few days at a time. Ryan invented a fresh water drip system for them to make sure their water stays fresh and cold, we load up their food and we’ll check for eggs when we return.

Since we don’t need anyone to come check on the chickens, I decided to figure out how to keep the plants watered on their own, too.

There are drip systems that would work great for certain areas where we have potted plants (the ferns on the front porch and the potted plants on the back patio), and others where it would not work (the window boxes on the garage dormers).

At our old house, I used these plant stakes with inverted glass bottles and it worked great then so I decided to try them again here.

The PLANT NANNY WATERING STAKES are made of terracotta that allows water to seep out into the root system when needed. You can use a recycled wine bottle, or if you’re slightly detail-obsessed like me and want all the bottles to match, you can grab a few bottles of sparkling water (around $2 each).

The first step is to remove the labels. Again, not necessary if you don’t mind the labels, but it’s already a little goofy looking to have bottles sticking out of the potted plants, so I wanted to at least get rid of the labels.

To do this, soak the bottles in hot water for a few minutes to release the adhesive.

Then peel off the labels. It is seriously so satisfying.

The residue of the glue will rub off with a scrubber or sponge and then just rinse and let the bottles dry.

Enjoy a few glasses of sparkling water (or pour it out) and fill with fresh water.

Next, since the sink is already filled with water, soak the terracotta stakes to pre-moisten.

There must be something fancy about the bottom of the stakes because they take on a different color when wet.

Before you add the plant stakes, water the plant to loosen up the soil.

Then you’ll need to pre-dig a small hole. I used an extra-large screwdriver and it worked great. I had to break up the roots just a little to get a hole large enough for the stake.

Once you have the hole, insert the stake. I tried to get it level with the top soil.

Then place your thumb over the mouth of the bottle, invert and gently drop it in.

Tada! Now the water will slowly drip through the stake into the roots to keep the plant regularly watered while you’re away.

Each plant will use up different amounts of water, but for these pots, they should be okay for a few days with just one bottle.

Yes, it looks a little strange to have bottles sticking up out of the pots.

Some people leave them in as the main way to water the plants, but I remove them when we’re home and just water by hand.

Up above the garage are two darling window boxes leftover from the previous owners that I do my best to keep watered in the summer (the rain does the rest of the work through the fall, winter and spring). There was a drip hose that came up through the floor and out the window from the room above the garage when we moved in, but when we finished out the studio, we had them removed.

The only weird thing about that is that now I have to water the window boxes through the windows from up in the studio.

I decided to give the stake-and-bottle system a try in the boxes, this time using two per box.

From the street, you can barely see the bottles and now the plants will stay watered while we’re away.

It is a great quick solution for keeping your plants watered while you’re away!

11 Responses to How to water the plants while you’re away

  1. Natalie at NeliDesign August 12, 2018 at 4:29 am #

    Thanks for this great tip! I didn’t know that existed!

  2. kari July 30, 2018 at 9:32 pm #

    Love this!! And, how do you keep your sink grate so clean? We have a similar one and lordy, it’s a magnet to gunk.

    • emily August 1, 2018 at 10:34 am #

      Oh, it totally is! I try to wipe the sink out every night and use the scrubby part of the sponge to wipe down the grate. I’ll use baking soda to really scrub or 409 (because I feel like it will kill all of the nasty bacteria).

  3. Kristina July 30, 2018 at 11:17 am #

    Love this! Thank you! What do you have planted in your window boxes?

    • emily August 1, 2018 at 10:36 am #

      There are three little boxwoods and then this summer I added sweet potato vine and a trailing white flower (not sure of the name). The annuals will die off soon and I’ll pull them out, but the boxwood stay green year round.

  4. Judy Caywood July 30, 2018 at 11:13 am #

    You think of the most helpful things Emily. Thank you.

    What we did to water our plants is we bought a Dual Digital Water Timer and set that up with two hoses. One for the flower bed and one for the lawn. You can set it so one hose waters certain days and times and the other hose does other days and times. We found the lawn needs less water than the flowers. I have a tendency to over mother and my husband has a tendency to not want to spend the money on watering so this fits both our needs. We also got a Soil pH Meter that is 3 in 1 to test the yard and plants to see if they need more moisture or not. An additional aspect of this that I like is if we are gone, with the yard being damp and watered it appears we are home. I typed this reply once before and it didn’t show up and I wonder if it might be because I had links to both the items we bought incase anyone else wanted to check them out. So I am leaving those links off this time.

  5. Judy Caywood July 30, 2018 at 11:08 am #

    I’m signed up but none of my replies ever show up. ???

  6. Tara July 30, 2018 at 10:55 am #

    Ok this is amazing!! And tell me more about this fresh water drip system for the chickens…I need this in my life!

  7. Sheryl July 30, 2018 at 8:35 am #

    I love this and it is perfect timing for our get away this weekend. But more importantly, which white t-shirt are you wearing?? Love it.

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