Smart Watering Plant Sitters

Smart Watering Plant Sitters: How to Not Kill Your Garden While on Vacation

Have you ever come home from a holiday to find that your plants are suffering from extreme thirst? Or even worse, have you come home to find the plants dead? It’s not always easy to get a plant sitter and it’s also not reasonable to stay home all the time. Heck, we all need to get away for the weekend and enjoy a little downtime. Your plants, however, keep on growing tirelessly even when you want to take a break.

Summer is the perfect time for weekend getaways like camping, cottaging, and boating. It’s also the time that the garden works the hardest. Summer heat and sun can be brutal on plants, with new plants, containers, annuals, and vegetables needing daily watering. Just one three-day long weekend can mean the end of these plants as they dry up and scorch in the hot sun.Smart Watering Plant Sitters

After all of that hard work spring planting, you definitely don’t want that to happen!

If you can, work out a buddy system with some neighbors and water each others’ plants. But, with so many people planning to skip town in the summer, you may not be able to find a garden helper when you need it most.

I’ve had this happen to me often enough that I have put in some research and tried out some cool high-tech and low-tech products that can help to save the day (and your plants!).Keep Your Garden Alive with these 10 Smart Watering Plant Sitters

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Lee Valley Tools, who also provided me with the products to try. All opinions shared here are based on my own experiences. Lee Valley Tools is giving away one of these smart watering plant sitters to one of our readers, so be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post!

Smart Watering Plant Sitters for Your Garden

Solar Drip Watering KitSolar Drip Watering Kit

When it’s sunny out you need to water the most.That’s why this solar-powered automatic watering system is so brilliant! The Solar Drip Watering Kit is powered by the sun to water up to twelve 20-litre (5.2 gallon) pots or a 39′ vegetable row. The pump unit irrigates at 3-hour intervals and has a five-setting dial to let you adjust how much water is released. Hook this baby up to a rain barrel and your garden watering is completely hands-free.

Wi-Fi Water TimerWIFI Water TIMER

This Wi-Fi Water Timer allows you to attach up to four hoses, each with a different schedule. You can set up the timer on the webpage that goes with the product, then access it from anywhere that has the internet (which is everywhere). You can change the settings manually based on the weather forecast, which is conveniently located right on the webpage.WATER TIMER APPSet this timer up with a bunch of sprinklers, soaker hoses, or spot soakers, depending on what sort of watering program you garden needs. This handy system is something you will use for the whole season, not just vacationing. It’s also ideal for watering at non-peak times and when watering restrictions are in place.

Vegepod® Container GardenVegepod Container Garden

If you want a whole vegetable garden that self-waters, you will love the Vegepod® Container Garden. This 10 square foot garden has a self-watering reservoir that holds 32L (8.5 gallons) of water. It also comes with a mesh tent that keeps flying insects off your veggies (see ya, carrot rust fly!) as well as a cool misting system.Vegepod on stand

Just add your hose to an opening in the mesh, and it lets off a fine mist to keep seedlings damp. Set up the hose with the Wi-Fi timer and you are sipping cocktails on the patio while your veggie garden takes care of itself.

Multi-Adjust Sprinkler Mister

Hozelock Multi-Adjust Sprinkler MisterThis Multi-Adjust Sprinkler Mister can be set up with the water timer to deliver a number of different watering options. In spring, the sprinkler can be set up to deliver a fine mist, which is perfect for seedlings.

Bubble Spot Soaker

Bubble Spot SoakerAdd this Bubble Spot Soaker to the soil around tender plants or transplants to get them a gentle flow of water in spots where you may need a little extra to get the plants through the weekend.

Plant Nanny™ Watering Spikes

Plant Nanny Watering SpikesMany years ago I bought a set of plastic watering spikes from Lee Valley Tools. I have used them every year—attached to empty soda bottles—to babysit my hanging baskets and planters while on vacation. This new version is quite the upgrade! The terracotta Plant Nanny spikes eliminate the need to fill the plastic spikes with sand to slow down the water release. Plus, you attach them to a wine bottle, which I am more than happy to empty for sake of the plants.

Tree Drip Irrigation System

Tree Drip Irrigation SystemIf you have a new tree, particularly a street tree, they can have a very rough start if watering is restricted. Young trees need lots of water to stay healthy and grow strong roots. This Tree Drip Irrigation System is low tech but it works so well. You simply fill the bag with water and it drips into the soil around the tree. The 15-gallon tube will sufficiently water a young tree for up to two weeks time.

Flower Well

Flower Well A Flower Well is an essential product for all hanging baskets, in my opinion. If you grow hanging basket arrangements, you know how quickly they dry out—going away for the weekend is sure to cause their demise. This Flower Well allows you to create a water reservoir in the basket which can extend the time between watering.

Saucer for Wire Hanging Baskets

Hanging Basket TrayThis Saucer for Wire Hanging Baskets is another way to save your hanging baskets. I generally take my baskets down and put them into a kiddie pool of water to give them a good soak, and this eliminates that altogether. You can water the flowers, catch the runoff, and allow them to soak for a bit longer. The saucer is a perfect hanging-basket babysitter for a holiday away.

Elho® Windowsill Herb Pot

Elho Windowsill Herb GardenThis little indoor Windowsill Herb Pot is a miniature version of a self-watering planter. A self-watering planter has a reservoir to hold an extra supply of water that can easily be wicked into the soil or roots when they dry out. Self-watering pots come in all shapes and sizes, like the Self-Watering Upside-Down Planter that I use for my upside-down tomatoes. This fun windowsill version comes complete with herb scissors!

Giveaway Time

Vegepod Container Garden

Conmgratulations to Lynn who was the lucky winner of the Lee Valley Tools Vegepod® Container Garden ($209 US Value). This contest was open to residents of Canada (excluding Quebec) and the continental United States. The winner was selected randomly from eligible entries, notified by email, and have seven days to claim their prize. Void where prohibited by law.

About Lee Valley Tools

Lee Valley Tools is a key destination for high-quality gardening products that are not easily found anywhere else. Lee Valley’s nearly 40-year history is rooted in gardening and offering customers the best of the best in this category. They are always scouring the globe to uncovering the latest and greatest in gardening and solution-based products. What also separates Lee Valley is that they offer personalized, expert service. Many of the staff are serious gardeners with a passion for gardening.

About the Author : Stephanie RoseAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Anna Pry
    Anna PryJune 11,17

    keep your soil covered with some kind of mulch to reduce the need to water, you can try straw, cut grass, wood chips, even newspaper

  2. Judy H
    Judy HJune 11,17

    Besides a generous application of mulch, I have cut the bottom out of milk jugs and stuck them, spout down, in the soil. I then fill them with water and they slowly release into the soil. Works great with my tomatoes.

  3. Linda
    LindaJune 11,17

    My smart watering tip is to water in the early morning so the water has time to soak in the soil and evaporate from the leaves.

  4. Terri H
    Terri HJune 11,17

    I’m lucky because my petsitter is also a Master Gardener. So when we are gone, the cats and garden are in good hands. Thanks for the chance to win.

  5. carol clark
    carol clarkJune 11,17

    i keep my soil covered with mulch and i always water my plants overnight so it can soak up more and i have cut holes in a container and inserted it in the ground and sometimes i just fill it up and i need some new tips really

  6. Jean Clark
    Jean ClarkJune 12,17

    Here in Virginia the summers are brutally hot and we can have some periods of time with no rain. So my mantra to myself is soaker hose laid down in each bed and lots of mulch (chopped leaves/straw/grass clippings) no bare soil!

  7. Linda Brown
    Linda BrownJune 12,17

    I want to thank-you first of all for the chance at this giveaway. I water my plants well everyday in the morning and I use several bottles in the soil to ease the summer heat here in Fl.

  8. Patricia La Pat
    Patricia La PatJune 12,17

    Mulch-covered son and early morning watering.

  9. Deborah West
    Deborah WestJune 12,17

    Living & gardening in zone 8 garden with sun in my front yard & heavy to filtered shade in my back yard, I have learned to focus on using the right plants in the right place. Also, I continuously add organic compost to my soil & mulch. It is best to water as close to the root section of the plants as possible, as early in the day as possible so plants can dry & reduce the chance for fungal problems.
    When away from home I find the plant nannys for new plants to be very helpful.

    Vege pod container garden & multi sprinkler with misting setting are catching my eye for my garden watering needs. Thank you for this article & to Lee Valley for providing this giveaway!

  10. Frances Batson
    Frances BatsonJune 12,17

    I water at night and this allows the water to soak in and get down to the roots before the sun dries it out.

  11. Cynthia
    CynthiaJune 12,17

    I move my small pots into a shady spot the trees when I’m away

  12. Carol Flaherty
    Carol FlahertyJune 12,17

    I love the Wi-Fi system. What an idea. They are all great

  13. F Grandinetti
    F GrandinettiJune 12,17

    My veggies and annuals are in containers since I’m in a townhouse, so I drench them before I leave and move them to shady locations while we’re gone. Some things come inside if the heat is going to be brutal.

  14. Shari
    ShariJune 12,17

    I love soaking my plants in a small pool or large container to help conserve water. Allowing to be watered less often. I really enjoy your reading your blog. Thanks

  15. Helen Tulip
    Helen TulipJune 12,17

    3 to 4 inches of mulch is essential, and a soaker hose is allowed in our area when water restrictions are in effect

  16. Brooke
    BrookeJune 12,17

    My watering tip is to beg your mom to come over and love your plants then pray for the best. I need to hit up Lee Valley for some of these options. I am there lots for woodworking things, but not the garden stuff!

  17. Margo
    MargoJune 12,17

    I have my flower beds on an automatic timer with soaker hoses. The pots have plastic bottles with holes punched in them which are buried into the pots with the bottle opening sticking up out of the soil so I can fill them.

  18. Patti
    PattiJune 12,17

    Sadly our last pet passed away this winter and since our girls are pretty much out of the house I really don’t have anyone to water my plants when I go on vacation. I think I need to look into some of Lee Valley’s products. So timely. Thank You!

  19. Sharon
    SharonJune 12,17

    My best watering tip is to water twice, once to let it soak down as far as it will and a second time w short time later to ensure the plant’s roots have been sufficiently reached.

  20. Karen Simon Peterson
    Karen Simon PetersonJune 12,17

    They have so many great watering systems now, but years ago when I would leave for a few days,, I would drench all of my house plants and put them in the bathtub. They had plenty of light in our sunny bathroom and were always very happy when I came home.

  21. Teresa Cherka
    Teresa CherkaJune 12,17

    I water my flowers and vegetable garden every evening. I am searching for a solution to watering while I am away camping. So far I think a sprinkler system on a timer.

  22. Hugh
    HughJune 14,17

    A cheap kiddie pool from the dollar store is my solution to watering container plants while away. Place the pool in a shady area, put the containers in the pool(s) and add water a couple of inches deep. This has worked for me for years and is an easy, inexpensive solution.

  23. Sue Raddatz
    Sue RaddatzJune 14,17

    Our best watering tip is to water early in the morning for shorter periods of time.

  24. Rose
    RoseJune 14,17

    EVerything is on automated water systems. Even my houseplants go out on the decks and have water emitters in each pot. The only problem is keeping them upright when there’s high wind. In winter when they’re indoors, I give the big pots a good soak just before I leave and put a few special plants on a rack over a pan of water with wicks.

  25. Ellen
    EllenJune 14,17

    Before leaving on holiday I thoroughly soak my container plants and hanging baskets, then move them into the complete shade. It also helps to simply fill empty wine bottles (the necks are longer than soda bottles), plug with a bit of rag and push them into my thirstiest containers. This was, as usual, a great article full of helpful information! Thanks!

  26. Carole Haring
    Carole HaringJune 14,17

    I use a pamper in the bottom of my hanging container to hold moisture.😎

  27. Robin R
    Robin RJune 14,17

    mulch as much as possible with available resources, such as grass cuttings, weeds, fir twigs, etc and water either later in the evening or early in the morning

  28. Laurie Nykaza
    Laurie NykazaJune 14,17

    I take my baskets and put them an extra doggie pool i bought with water in it. It works great for my succulents that need to be watered from the bottom of the dish not from over head.

  29. Bill Anderson
    Bill AndersonJune 15,17

    My tip is to be sure and plan ahead and try out your watering system “before” you go on vacation. Run your new items a few weeks in advance. Don’t wait until the night before you leave on vacation to discover the new sprinkler does not work.

  30. Patty Otoole
    Patty OtooleJune 15,17

    I use Maxi Paks for my tomatoes. They can hold up to 7 days of water in the styrofoam containers. I am able to use rain water to fill the containers and add my fertilizer directly into the container.

  31. Leslie Ramirez
    Leslie RamirezJune 15,17

    I catch rainwater in a plastic kiddie pool and transfer it to a water jug to water. That’s my watering system but these ideas are great. Thanks for the article!

  32. Julia Elliot
    Julia ElliotJune 15,17

    Lots of mulch, morning watering before the sun gets too hot. And making sure shade plants are in the shade! Love the Lee Valley ideas. I will check them out for sure.

  33. Lynn
    LynnJune 15,17

    I just purchased a set of Plant Nanny Watering Spikes and love how they help with my containers. I was reluctant to purchase them but they work wonderfully. My fruit trees love my bubble spot soaker. Great purchase also.

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseJuly 3,17

      Lynn, great news! You are the winner of the Vegepod garden! Please check your email for more details. Hooray!

  34. Mary Fritz
    Mary FritzJune 15,17

    Before leaving on a trip, I water all of my plants thoroughly, then move containers to the edges of my lawn in the shade where they will catch some of the sprinkler action.
    The wifi timer and the wine bottle spikes are two new ideas I will look into, for sure!

  35. Joseph Roberts
    Joseph RobertsJune 15,17

    Smart ideas! It’s useful for me. I will try to water my garden

  36. Matt
    MattJune 15,17

    Keeping your soil covered with some kind of mulch, and making sure the humus is good, can make a big difference in how often you need to water.

  37. Karen
    KarenJune 15,17

    Cluster houseplants on the kitchen table in filtered sunlight. Ask whoever comes to feed and water our kitty, to give the plants a drink, too.

  38. Monica C
    Monica CJune 15,17

    I love using self watering planters for my indoor plants. However, I have a neighbor water my outside garden when we are away.

  39. Anita
    AnitaJune 15,17

    Extra moisture around plants can be obtained by setting pots in a gravel lined tray full if water. Moisture rises during evaporation. Plants do not need as much watering. Love the tools offered and will check them out, too. Thank you!

  40. Johnson Janice
    Johnson JaniceJune 16,17

    Out of desperation I put my hanging potted planter into a small bird bath that is low to the ground. I’ve keep the reservoir filled and it’s the biggest and has produced the best show of flowers out of all my pots!! 🌸🌺🌼🐝🦋

  41. Danabee
    DanabeeJune 16,17

    Before leaving on a trip I use a Noodlehead sprinkler to deeply water all my long, narrow walkway beds which are thickly mulched with rice straw. The rice straw helps slow evaporation and stays damp a while. I also sometimes tent more heat-sensitive plants with a light-, water-permeable floating row cover. It’s a plastic product but I’ve found, with some care, like rinsing it off and air drying it when I’m done with it, it lasts for many seasons. Everything is on a drip system on a timer. I live in Northern CA where it does not rain for 4-5 months during the growing season most years!
    Thanks for your post!

  42. Marylea Burtt
    Marylea BurttJune 16,17

    Marylea I usually water after the sun starts to go down so the plants root can absorb most of the moisture over night I also use pop bottles upside down in the garden. I like the idea of Lee Valley and would love to try them out

  43. Marylea Burtt
    Marylea BurttJune 16,17

    I wood love to try our Lee Valleys Vegepod container as I think it would be a great way to harvest herbs all year round.

  44. Lauren
    LaurenJune 16,17

    I’ve only started my garden for the first time this year. Right now my best watering tips are to have the pet sitter water my garden when I’m out of town! Probably next year I’ll invest in some kind of timer system. That wifi enabled timer would be so helpful! I love that it can connect to 4 hoses so I could water my citrus trees when I’m away as well as my garden!

  45. Dee
    DeeJune 17,17

    This time of year we get a good amount of rain so I don’t have to water my garden often. I put Home Depot buckets out to catch rainwater to use when my veggie garden hasn’t received enough rain. I also use a lot of drought tolerant flowers to keep the watering chore (and bill) down.

  46. Jan
    JanJune 17,17

    I add water retaining poly crystals to almost all of my containers, and in the soil around the most water-sensitive plants, in addition to using a professional grade mulch. If I’m going to be gone longer than a week, I do have a friend come to water, but with the crystals and heavy mulching, I can enjoy my time away without being worried about coming home to wilted and dead plants. I can come home, go out to the garden and patio and appreciate the results of my planning…rather than dive in to plant-saving mode.

  47. B. Donna Hall
    B. Donna HallJune 17,17

    The most important tip is to check the soil moisture and the plant appearance before watering. If water is needed, it is best done in the early morning before the sun gets too hot. Avoiding getting moisture on the leaves helps prevent sunburned leaves and the spread of many plant diseases.

  48. mattsgramma
    mattsgrammaJune 18,17

    I try to water early or late in the day and have mulched around all trees, shrubs and flower beds. Thank you for the chance to WIN!

  49. Wendy Minton
    Wendy MintonJune 18,17

    Living in the south, watering is hard to determine, so I use a soaker hose.

  50. Suzanne G
    Suzanne GJune 18,17

    My tip is I always water in morning and for my new plants I use a small drill on soda bottle bury it right side up and then I can just unscrew cap and refill with water. I love all these great tips and wow Lee Valley has a lot of interesting gardening products.

  51. kelly k
    kelly kJune 18,17

    use a soaker hose (the kind that drips, not sprays)…turn on at night a quarter turn of the spigot. let soak all night. leaves will not get wet and roots will be watered deep!

  52. Shannon
    ShannonJune 18,17

    We set our drip irrigation system to water early in the morning so the water has a chance to soak into the soil before the heat of the Texas sun has a chance to dry it up.

  53. Michele Perri
    Michele PerriJune 19,17

    We also have soaker hoses which takes care of our beds. For the pots I have been using the plastic bottle method but loved learning about the Plant Nanny which I will be purchasing soon!

  54. Marissa Verdi
    Marissa VerdiJune 20,17

    Be sure to water outdoor plants near their bases, especially in the morning. Until I have time to install a drip irrigation system (preferably one that I can control via Wi-Fi) , I have gotten in the habit of watering my raised bed vegetable garden in the morning. Getting the plants’ foliage wet too late in the evening when the temperature has cooled off may result in increased fungal disease presence!

  55. Marlene Gasaway
    Marlene GasawayJune 20,17

    Love the plant nanny’s and would live to try the Vege Pod. This is a great blog

  56. Pam Abbuhl
    Pam AbbuhlJune 20,17

    I wish i knew a good watering tip but i dont….that is why im reading this article!!

  57. Lisa
    LisaJune 23,17

    My smart watering tip is for container gardens. Most of my garden is in containers, so I try to have the plants above drain into the plants below when I water them. Under all my hanging baskets is another plant as well. I also use mulch.

  58. Claire Jenkins
    Claire JenkinsJune 23,17

    I’m not disciplined enough to water before work, so I try to water after work! If i’m going out of town, I either employ my best friend to water my plants, or I moved them under the edge of my deck to give them relief but where they’ll still get some water.

  59. Crystal Provience
    Crystal ProvienceJune 23,17

    Love the idea of veg.pod! What a great idea. Also I love using Terracotta water feeders over the glass bulbs.

  60. Shana Gutman
    Shana GutmanJune 23,17

    I use mulch and am about to replant with drought-resistant plants that require less water.

  61. Carol Tripp
    Carol TrippJune 23,17

    I put a sprinkler on a timer.

  62. Jenny Markwardt
    Jenny MarkwardtJune 23,17

    This is amazing! I love to garden and this would change my life. Right now I water my small yard garden with a kids sprinkler toy, and then everyday my toddler and I walk 10 blocks to our 2 community garden plots…hes a trooper, but we will be happy when our car is repaired! I would be so greatful to be considered for this prize!

    • Jenny Markwardt
      Jenny MarkwardtJune 23,17

      And a few tips ive learned are to make sure im not watering in direct sun and to watch weather reports carefully to avoid overwatering, im still learning though….a real garden master once told me that we all are❤

  63. Adrienne
    AdrienneJune 23,17

    I think whatever method you use the trick is to plan ahead. Know for sure how long you’all be away and how long the water in your solution will last.
    Thanks for offering the giveaway!

  64. Kat White
    Kat WhiteJune 24,17

    My smart watering tip is that I utilize a galvanized tub to house newly purchased starter plant until they get planted. The tub will hold excess water so that the plants won’t die before I get them planted even if a miss watering them for a day or two

  65. Carol M
    Carol MJune 29,17

    I water in the morning before the heat of the day comes on. I may also water in the evening if it is extremely hot out.

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