The green-hearted may feel hardhearted when they go on vacation and leave potted plants to fend for themselves. Then they’re brokenhearted when they come back to find the neglected plants on life support. Here’s how to prevent container garden mishaps.
Group plants. Cluster containers so they shade each other and don’t dry out as fast. Use saucers to hold excess water.
Give them shade. Place containers in a shady spot -- under a tree or on the east side of the house for protection from the hot afternoon sun. Even sunloving plants can take a week of shade while you’re away.
Hold the water. Use a potting mix containing water-absorbing crystals, which will take up excess moisture and make it available to plants as the mix starts to dry out. Exception: succulents and cacti.
Time your waterings. Hook up a timer to a drip irrigation system and run the spaghetti-like irrigation tubes from container to container.
Grow succulents and cacti. By nature, these plants are water-thrifty to the extreme. It won’t faze them to go a week or longer without water. And potted succulents can double as winter houseplants.
Ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with asking a friend or family member to water your plants. Just be sure to ask them to water deeply; light watering won’t allow moisture to penetrate the soil and reach the majority of plant roots.