Even though succulents are regarded as low maintenance plants they need some basic care to thrive properly. In case you are planning to take a vacation, it is quite normal that you will be worried that the health of your plants will be affected or not while you are gone as you won’t be there to water them.
How to care for succulents while on vacation? Succulents are highly adaptive plants that usually grow in drought-prone areas. As a result, they are naturally equipped to handle harsh conditions & water scarcity. So if you are gone for a few weeks, the succulents will be able to handle themselves on their own.
- However, if you are gone for more than a few weeks then you can take certain steps beforehand to make sure your succulents do not suffer from any issues while you are gone…
How can I keep my plant’s healthy while on vacation?
The Duration of your vacation
- If you will be gone for just a week or two then you dont need to worry at all cause succulents can easily put up with no water for 10 to 15 days even in summer.
- In case the duration is one month, if you abide by the tips mentioned below the succulents will do just fine especially if it’s in the fall or winter. In the hotter months majority of the succulents won’t show any signs of stress for about 2 weeks without water, after the third week some of the plants can start shedding off branches and leaves.
- If it’s more than a month then you should ask someone to water the plants at least once when you are gone preferably after two weeks.
The Water storing abilities of the plant
The time period a plant can go without any watering depends entirely upon how good its water reserve system is. Luckily in that regard succulents are the best plants in the world.
They habitually grow in drought-prone areas where rainfall is scarce. So with time they have evolved wonderfully and can store water in their leaves, stem, and even roots. For more info on their desert adaptation and evolution refer to this post.
Hence succulents can go for weeks without showing any signs of water trouble. However, roughly most succulents give in within the third to the fourth week. After that, if it does”not gets any water it will end up being dormant. Having said that, there are many cactuses that can even go months without watering especially in the winter.
Whether the plant is growing outdoors or indoors
Succulents that grow outside are much more vulnerable than the indoor ones especially if there is no one to look after them for a certain period. This is because firstly they will get loads of sun even if they are placed under some kind of shade.
- More exposure to sunlight means it will dry up sooner and will have greater thirst. Also, the weather conditions will also play a role here.
- If the weather suddenly gets chilly or it starts raining for a few days, it can be troublesome for the succulents.
7 Action Steps on How to Take Care of Your Succulents while on vacation
7. Water them just before you leave only if they are thirsty
The best solution to know whether your succulents need to be watered or not is to use a soil moisture meter. It will save loads of headaches down the line and will put the guesswork to absolute rest.
- Just water the succulents in the way you normally would i.e, do not try to water them a bit too much in order to compensate for the future underwatering phase.
- Give them a good drenching and do not stop until water starts flowing out of the drainage holes.
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6. Make sure you save them from sunburn
Most of the succulents love 4 to 6 hours of indirect sunlight and do not do well with full sun. The scorching heat of the full sun will damage the plant tissues, will leave scars, and lead to severe sunburn.
Also if you keep them at a place with direct sunlight for hours, they will also end up drying and exhausting their water reserve much faster.
So you should always keep them in a shady place preferably inside where it will be much cooler, from where they can get just enough indirect sun.
If you grow succulents outdoors in pots, in order to be just safe you can bring them indoors and place them in the eastern wing or western wing of your house as per the need of the succulent. Generally, succulents do well when kept near the south, east and west-facing windows.
Read these posts for more info on this matter:
- 8 Beautiful Indoor Succulents for East Facing Windows
- 8 Beautiful Succulents For West Facing Windows & Gardens
5. Make sure the soil is sufficiently Nutrient-rich
A succulent will thrive much better in nutrient-rich soil than in a deficient one. This becomes more important in case the succulent will face underwatering in the coming days.
A succulent that lives on a fertilized soil will be much healthier which will just give them the upper hand to tackle harsh situations just in a slightly better way.
The roots will be well developed and strong. This means the succulent will be able to use the roots to absorb every last drop of water available in the soil. So in order to develop stronger roots you should:
- Always try to water succulents without holding back and drench them completely. Avoid watering them feebly as if you end up only wetting the topsoil scarcely the root development won’t be great.
- Make sure the soil mix is sufficiently drainage friendly and nutrient-rich. Also, fertilize the succulent using organic slow-release fertilizers in diluted forms at least once a year. Throughout the year you can use other forms of supplements in form of Epsom salts, rice water, etc to keep the soil healthy.
This is a kind of long practice that prepares your succulent to grow to be healthy and strong. A well-grown healthy succulent will able to tackle waterless conditions much better than succulents which have barely managed to survive.
4. If possible use Rainwater or Hydrogen peroxide for watering before you go
- Now, this is an optional step you can take to make sure your succulents are in prime health before you leave them.
The best water to use for watering succulent is rainwater as unlike water from other sources it is totally natural and does not contain harmful chemicals under normal circumstances.
Rainwater is slightly acidic which is just perfect as succulents love surviving on slightly acidic conditions. Often times rainwater is seen to act as a tonic for the green plants and boosts their growth instantly.
If you use filtered water or distilled water, it’s totally fine however using rainwater for watering your succulent just before you go onto a vacation will help the plant as it will rejuvenate its health.
- You cause water diluted with hydrogen peroxide as well to mimic rainwater. Read this post for more: Is Hydrogen Peroxide Good for Succulents & Cactus?
Rainwater and hydrogen peroxide mixed water both helps in getting rid of fungal growth or pest manifestations in the soil. It also helps in fixing root rot in the primary stages. Hydrogen peroxide rich water is highly beneficial for the root health as it makes the roots to absorb nutrients better from the soil.
So in case you dont use either rainwater or hydrogen peroxide you can use them to water your succulents in the last few weeks before you go for your vacation. This will help in boosting their health which further will help them to put up better with water scarcity.
3. Place your succulents at a suitable location
In case you have your succulents growing outside and it may rain heavily for days when you are gone it is a good idea to bring them indoors.
Rainwater is undoubtedly good for them however if it rains for days at a stretch it may harm the plant. Better safe than sorry. Also, if you feel that it can get quite chilly outside in the coming days you should bring them indoors as most succulents cannot handle low temperatures.
- So all these depend upon your weather conditions and you can never be too cautious. Bring them indoors and place them at a location that will get just enough indirect sun.
2. Place them in a ventilated place before you go
This is a practice you should follow irrespective of going on a vacation or not. The majority of the succulents do not like excess moisture in the air.
This is because they are extremely prone to fungal infections and rots. So you should always grow them in well-aerated soil and in airy well-ventilated conditions.
1. Have someone water them in your absence
This is important in case you will be gone for a long time maybe a month or more. However, as discussed above, it also depends upon the time of the year. If it’s winter you can take a chance especially if the succulents you have been known to withstand droughts for a long time( most cactuses).
- Personally I feel if your vacation lasts more than 15-20 days then it is ideal to have someone come and water them while you are still in the middle phase of your vacation. You can come back after another two weeks and then water them again.
- There is an entire profession called plant sitters who specialize in taking care of your plants while you are away. I personally have never used these services but you can search online, ask around and contact your local nurseries for these sorts of services in case you dont have someone dependable for this.
If you have someone for this option then always opt for this one as it is ideal. You can ask your friends, neighbors, or anyone you know who is into gardening for this purpose. However, that person needs to be dependable as watering succulents improperly can do severe harm.
In case your vacation lasts for 2 to 3 weeks or the climate is not so hot then you can take a chance. However, that is something that comes down to personal choice.
In case you decide on having someone help you while you are gone leave a written out instruction for them. The instruction should contain all the important points you can think of which someone may need for watering your plants. Few of them can be:
- Regarding how should they water it(Avoid watering the leaves and should only aim for the soil)
- From where should they collect the water for watering(Whether they should use the tap water or use some other source of water you have for watering the plants)
- If you have pots with drainage holes then they need to water the succulents keeping them on some kind of tray and later on empty that tray.
- In case you have toxic succulents that have poisonous saps you can even suggest them to wear gloves or wash their hands with soap in case they touch the plants.
- You can ask them to revolve the pots a bit so that they get sunlight evenly.
Leaving proper instruction is a good practice as succulents are not like tropical plants and improper watering can lead to root rot. Make sure to more or less keep all your succulents in a particular room. This will make the task easy for them.
You should keep all the watering essentials including a watering can, moisture meter, gloves, extra tissues, and small clothes(in case water falls on the ground due to overwatering) in one place. And in case they feel something is wrong or is confused about something tell them to contact you via video calls.
(You can appreciate their efforts by gifting them with propagated succulents in a pot as a good gesture after coming back!)
Succulents are one of the best varieties of plants you can grow especially if you go frequently for vacations. this is because succulents are known to survive on neglect, provide them with basic growing conditions, place them near the window, and water them once in 7 to 10 days and they will be good to go.
- The unique feature of having tissues that store water helps them to put up with water scarcity issues. This is something not very common in other plants.
- Along with the storage options they also have taken other adaptive measure in due course of time that helps them in every way to save water and to absorb water better from the environment.
So if you follow these basic tips hopefully your plants will be in good health just like before you had taken your vacation.
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