Watering Plants While On Vacation – 5 Best Methods

Since the pandemic and the quarantine process, we may have sought out new hobbies. One of those hobbies could be gardening! At some point, we might have anticipated food and supply shortages so what better way than to grow our own foods. Fortunately, society did not have to reach that dire state where everyone is struggling to survive. Still, you probably already spent a lot of effort to start your garden so why let your beautiful work go to waste?

These days, the virus seems to be a bit more controlled with better hygienic practices and the introduction of the vaccine. You probably thought of taking a vacation after being home for such a long time. But, now you face a new issue: how can one water their plants while away?

Perhaps the plants are still young so you can probably just let it go and start anew when you return? It’s possible. But what if your plant has been thriving for some time now? It would be a waste to let that or the younger plant go. So are there methods to keep your plant alive? There are a couple methods!

5 Methods to Water Plants While On Vacation

Create a Water Bath System

This method works best for potted plants.

  • Simply fill a tub with a few inches of water. (You can do this with the sink or bathtub too).
  • Then place your potted plants into the tub. That’s it! (Be sure that the pot has drainage holes or else the method will NOT work. Your plant may drown.)

How this works is, once the soil or roots are dry, they will soak up the water from the bottom up. It is an interesting way since we may be so accustomed to watering the plants from the top and watching water sink downwards.

Create a Water Bottle Drip System

To do this method:

  • Obtain some empty water bottles with caps.
  • Drill or poke holes on the cap (perhaps with a thumb tack, nail with hammer, etc.). More holes equal faster water drainage.
  • Fill the water bottle with water. Close it with the cap (that you just created holes with).
  • Dig a little hole on the soil by the plant.
  • Place the water bottle inverted into the hole.

Keep in mind that this simple method works best with potted plants. It does not work as well with raised beds. The raised bed prevents plants from drowning through good drainage and are significantly larger. Therefore, it will absorb a lot of water from the bottles. It may be empty within a couple of hours. Plants in buckets may be okay.

Also, if you have flimsy water bottles, sometimes the bottle itself will bend and crush the plants (if they are small enough). This is due to no air exchange as the water exits the bottle. To counter this, you can drill holes at the base of bottle. Keep in mind that water will drain out of the bottle much faster though.

If you want to avoid the hole drilling, it would be good to use (without that) on larger plants. Basically, not on plants that are little sprouts. That way, if the bottle bends towards it, it can tolerate the force.

Make a Wick Watering System

To create this system:

  • Find a container of some sort (bowl, vase, cup, etc.) and fill it with water.
  • Find some rope (cotton, shoe-lace type of material works best). Cut enough to be able to connect the water in the container to the potted plant.

How this works is through diffusion and gravity. Water will travel through the ropes from places of higher concentration of water to places of lower concentration. In other words, from the water container to the plant!

Recommendation: Please test this method out before you travel. The water gets diffused at a certain rate that might not be at the rate that your plant may need. For bigger plants, you may need a couple of ropes per system. For smaller plants, you may need a smaller type of rope.

Use Self-Watering Tools

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)

Of all the tools I’ve used, my favorite has been the self watering spikes. Very similar to the water bottle method, it will work via a drip system. The difference with this tool is that it drips water not underground, but above it through an adjustable valve. You can control the rate at which the system drips.

To use this, just:

  • Attach the tool to the opening of the bottle instead of the regular cap. (Don’t forget to fill it up with water first).
  • Then invert the bottle and spike it to the soil by the plant.
  • Set the desired rate on the valve

You may encounter the water bottle bending problem (that may crush your plants). You can drill some holes at the base of the bottle for that air exchange as water leaves the system. There is no need to worry about faster water drainage because you already have the valve controlling the drip rate.

Keep in mind that the faster the drip rate (due to demands of plant), the faster the water will run out. If you need a large amount of water while on vacation, just set up several of these systems in place. Have these self watering spike systems drip at the slowest rate.

Call a Family, Friend, or Neighbor

If all else fails, there is nothing better than to have someone else do the watering for you. Please provide them with detailed, but simple directions to follow. Remember to thank and reward them for going out of their way to help!

Summary of 5 Plant Watering Methods

  1. Create a Water Bath System
  2. Create a Water Bottle Drip System
  3. Make a Wick Watering System
  4. Use Self-Watering Tools (i.e. self watering spikes)
  5. Call a Family, Friend, or Neighbor


Gardening can be a very fun experience and it will require much time and effort. However, keep in mind that it shouldn’t have to limit you from doing things like traveling. You now know ways to keep your plants healthy and watered. You have many methods and tools like the self watering spikes at hand to use.

Hope you are able to see a beautiful garden or plants that bear many fruit before the end of the season!

Did you enjoy this article? Which method or tools have you used before that work really well for you? Please leave a comment below!

While tending to your garden, did you get bit or stung by an insect? Click here to learn about how to treat it.

Maybe you have a lot of flying pests in your garden like fruit flies. Try using these tools on them.

22 thoughts on “Watering Plants While On Vacation – 5 Best Methods”

  1. If I do not have families and friends around, I would go with the wick watering system because it would be easier for me and it will not over flow or drown the my plant be I return home. 

    This article is very informative and clearly explain to follow, I always ask my friends to water my plants whenever am going for a trip.

    Thank you for sharing your hacks with us here

    • Hello there, Tina! The water wick system was my go to method when I had no one around to help water my plants, until I found out about the water spike tool. Glad to hear that the article was clear and that you know people who would help you with watering plants.

  2. Hi there Mike! This is some real informative article! Absolutely enjoyed it. All 5 are good innovative methods to keep plants watered while away. Honestly I haven’t tried any of these methods! But I definitely like the sound of trying out the “Wick watering system”. I can picture it clearly.  Testing it out on my Garden-egg plant tomorrow to see how it goes

    • Hello Vanabel! Glad to hear you enjoyed the article. The water wick trick should work outdoors but keep in mind that depending on the weather, water might evaporate from your system (when it is hot).

  3. Hi there, I didn’t think there was anything you could do for your plants when on vacation- except enlist someone to take care of them! I like the method of sticking your potted plants in a tub filled with a couple of inches of water. It’s so simple but really brilliant. I was wondering, though, does this wreck your plant at all? Does it rot the roots to have it sit in a tub of water?

    I also like the one with the inverted water bottle. Have you tried any of these- which one works best for you? 

    Great article, thanks!


    • Hello there Beth! That’s a great question. As long as the main roots of the plant are not totally submerged in water when you leave it in your tub, it should be fine. You just have to estimate where the roots may be and avoid filling the water level above the pot. When the plants are “thirsty”, it will draw enough water from below. The roots do rely on oxygen too. When the roots are completely submerged, it will prevent the plant from obtaining that oxygen. In other words, the plants will drown.

      I tried all the methods and I really like the wick system and the water spike tool method the best.

  4.  Both my parents grew up on farms and are very good at gardening vegetables.  Personally, I tend to grow bean sprouts in my kitchen.  However, I like the idea of watering potted plants while away.

    Watering them from a bath tub is definitely a good idea and is not messy.  Only thing is, it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much water you would need to put in the tub.  It has to be enough to feed the plants without drowning them as you specify here.

    Thanks for sharing – a very insightful post.

    • Hi Stella! That’s awesome that you have experience with gardening. Glad you were able to take away something from my post! My mom also loves growing bean sprouts in the kitchen.

  5. Very interesting article. Haven’t done any gardening in a few years. But will certainly tell my son about these clever ways to solve the watering problem. All of these solutions seem doable but, I like the one available from Amazon. It seems like the simplest to achieve. There is nothing better than getting your vegetables fresh from your garden. Thanks, Deanna 

    • Hi there, Deanna! You are welcome. I agree that there is nothing better than getting fresh produce from your own garden. I personally like the product on Amazon too. I like that ability to control the rate of water delivery more precisely than the DIY methods.

  6. I used to use the wick method. I’m glad to see it described in your article. What I would do is tear up an old shirt or something similar into strips of various widths and use these as my wicks. That way, I could control to some extent how much water my plants would get. I’d use thicker strips for larger plants or plants that need more water and thinner strips for the smaller ones.

    Anyway, your article is well written and to the point. It’s not too long, and conveys your info concisely. Your article doesn’t appear to be padded out to get in more words to hopefully rank better in the search engines (basic SEO only needs about 300 words). It says what it needs to say, and that’s it. Your ads seem to integrate well with the layout of your content and so are not intrusive. You keep your paragraphs short with nice section headers, which helps with the readability of the topic and will encourage visitors to read the whole thing.

    I like your question about getting stung. I think I’ve been stung by just about everything that can sting! After a while, I kind of got used to it and the pain wasn’t so bad.

    I looked at some of your other topics and read a few. I have to admit that I found it a little odd that you have articles about so many unrelated things, like cars and electronics. Some visitors landing on the page about watering plants might be confused. They might be expecting to find more info on plants. Someone landing on “car accessories” might have the same problem, expecting more info on cars.

    But the title of your site “My Life Hack Site” does explain things. Sites about “hacks” can contain just about anything under the sun.

    In the “Use Self Watering Tools” section, there is a graphic that says “Amazon” at the top. Below that is an illustration of the watering spikes you talk about. And below that, It looks like there are two layers of text, one on top of the other. This makes about half the text in the graphic illegible. I assume this contains an affiliate link. You might want to check this out and see what the problem is. If possible, you should try different browsers. Sometimes, problems like this only happen on certain computers and/or browsers. Or maybe the page didn’t load correctly.

    All in all, pretty good job. I like the info you present. Best of luck!

    • Hi there, Terry! Using old t-shirt strips is a great idea because you can adjust the size and shape of it to meet the needs of your plants. Thanks for your feedback too. Although this article you read was about gardening/plants, my main niche is on common everyday issues that people may run into in life and to provide easier methods or “life hacks” for them. That is the fundamental concept that links all my posts together. It was definitely a niche that can branch out to many others. My biggest fear when I was picking an idea for my website was running out of ideas to write about. 

      Of course, the types of content on my site at the moment are limited, but I am hoping for it to grow more as time progresses. I would say the topics within my main niche that are most thorough are on cooking and health. Cars and gardening are limited at the moment but I will definitely add more content as I learn and discover more things. Each day is a random topic (hoping to keep things spontaneous and fun) but for a more focused search on specific topics, I recommend everyone to go to my “topics” tab and look for your desired topic. Hopefully you will find a solution for your needs.

      Recently wordpress has been going through a lot of updates so I expect there to be some glitches here and there. Thanks for looking out though!

  7. My mother grew her first batch of peas and tomatoes this year. It was indeed lockdown that convinced her to go ahead and start planting. She was so happy when making her first tomato chutney and even happier when shelling her first peas. It is such a rewarding hobby to take up, if a little difficult to start.

    While holidays have been impossible this last year, she has had a granddaughter born to her that she has not been able to visit yet. These tips will prove extremely valuable to her and her new hobby when she is able to make that trip.

    • Hello there, Kelly! That’s awesome that your mother started gardening during the lockdown. Definitely a rewarding experience to have when seeing the first fruits of any plant appear. The early stages can be difficult because of how much attention the young plants need. Hopefully the virus can be resolved soon so that your mother can visit her granddaughter soon (and implement these plant watering strategies)!

  8. Hey Mike! Great post! These are some really great methods, especially the water wick system. I am very tempted to try it out just to see how well it works. Whenever I go on trips, I always had the fortune of having either a family member or friend to help water my plants. Maybe I don’t need to bother them with that anymore!

    • Hello there, Larry! Glad to hear that you liked the methods for watering plants while on vacation. The water wick system was a very fun method and feels like a science project for school (and it technically could be). You do have to experiment around with it though to match the needs of your various plants. In doing so, you will know EXACTLY how the setup will go (and having confidence in it) while you are away.

  9. Hey mike! This is great info! I have been managing my little basil plant but I haven’t thought of how I would water it if I were to go on vacation. I really like all these ideas you provided. The wick method seems really cool to try, feels like a science experiment haha.

    • Hey Kevin! That’s great that you have a little basil plant! And yes, I was like that too where I never thought much about how I would water my plants when on vacation. It is when my flight for a trip is a day away that it would hit me. But, if you follow the advice provided, I think you will be okay! Good luck!

  10. Hey Mike! Wow, these are really great strategies for watering plants while on vacation. I haven’t personally tried gardening yet but I have been thinking about it lately. The idea of taking a vacation with no one to water my potential plants has definitely not crossed my mind. Thanks for the heads up!

    • Hello there! I definitely recommend taking up gardening as a hobby. It is quite therapeutic and rewarding when your plants bear its first fruit. Also, it is pretty much free food all in the comfort of your backyard (or wherever you decide to grow plants).

  11. What’s up mike! Oh man…this is some useful stuff! I actually just started gardening and already thinking about traveling!! The thought of not being able to water my plants while gone for a few weeks hasn’t even come across my mind!! So glad I ran into this article! Thanks a bunch man, gonna have to apply some of the techniques you suggested and products!

    • Hey Johnny! Glad to hear that this was useful for you! Gardening is a really fun activity especially when you get to harvest the crops! Hope these techniques help you like it did for me!


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