Make plans for plants during vacations

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Horticulture expert offers tips to help plants survive

Many families take their vacations over the summer months, and while planning those vacations, the University of Missouri Extension reminds them to make plans for their plants, too.

Since a lot of sweat equity, expense and pride can go into growing and nurturing indoor and outdoor plants and flowers, the last thing owners want is for them to die while they are gone on vacation due to a lack of water.

But Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with the Extension, says that, during the excitement and bustle of planning a vacation, people sometimes neglect to make plans for their plants, too, by finding someone to look after them while they are gone.

"If you are going to be away from home for more than a week, you may return to find substantial damage has occurred to plants left unattended," Byers said. "This is especially true for plants growing in containers."

The ideal solution, Byers said, is to ask a friend who is knowledgeable about plants to check on and water your plants when necessary.

Before you leave, he recommends moving indoor plants away from sunny, bright windows so that they will use water less rapidly.

"This doesn't mean putting them in a dark room," he said. "They still need bright, indirect light to stay healthy while you're gone. Immediately before leaving, water all indoor plants. Even allow some water to stand in the saucers beneath the plants' containers."

Making those slight changes should enable indoor plants to survive while gone, Byers says. However, plants in containers outside will need water almost every day.

He offers the following practical tips and resources to help keep outdoor plants survive.

"Place all of your outdoor container plants, including any hanging baskets, in a shady location near the northern side of a building or under the protective cover of a large shade tree or covered patio," He said. "Group plants fairly close together since this, along with the shady location, will help slow water loss."

If a person will be gone for more than a few days and cannot find someone to help, there are still options. For example, inexpensive water timers used in conjunction with sprinklers can work, especially if the plants are together in a water grouping. Otherwise, a timer with more sophisticated irrigation and drip systems are available.

For more information, people may contact the Barry County Extension office at 417-847-3161.

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