Summer means sun, fun, and vacation time! You stop your mail and newspaper delivery while away on vacation and always make sure your pets are looked after, but what about your plants? For you, a couple of days in the heat of summer may mean a nice golden tan. For your plants, without any care, it may mean a sad, hot, withering death. BUT…take heart! We have a couple of great tips that may bolster your success, and help make it easier for the lucky person entrusted to watch over your plant babies while you are enjoying your vacation.
1. Choose your plant nanny selectively: No one will take care of your plants the same way you do; but if you find someone who actually loves plants (even better if they love you too), they will be more likely to pay attention to the detail that your individual plants may need.
2. You get mulch, and you get mulch, everybody gets mulch: Offer a layer of mulch to all of your plants before summer vacations starts; this includes your potted plants too. Mulch will help regulate soil temperature and moisture, which in turn will give your plants more of a fighting chance when you are on vacation.
3. Made in the shade: Speaking of grouping plants together, moving your potted plants to shadier areas of the landscape while you are gone will reduce the amount of heat stress they experience and they will be able to retain moisture longer.
4. The more the merrier: Make it easier for your plant nanny to care for your plants by grouping your pots together while you are on vacation. You may have the perfect set up with your containers spread out and situated just so, but your helper might get hot or tired by the time they reach the end of the line of your patio and those last few plants might get shortchanged with the water. Make it easy for them.
5. Put pen to paper: Write out specific instructions for taking care of your plants, including the location of some of your hidden gems that could go unnoticed to the casual observer. Do a walk through of your property, showing your caregiver where the hose spigot is in the front and back of the house. Specify how often you’d like them to come water and which plants need less or more. Don’t be too demanding, remember this is their summer too; but most people appreciate the written instructions as a verbal account can easily be forgotten.
6. Who you gonna call: Not Ghostbusters! Make sure you leave emergency contact phone numbers for your plant nanny, and also have them on hand for yourself, in case something disastrous happens while you are away. You’re plant nanny feels pretty helpless when they are frantically trying to call you because they’ve arrived at your house only to have to slalom through your yard because of a gushing geyser from a blown sprinkler head. If they can’t get a hold of you because you are doing your own slalom behind a speedboat, they need to be able to reach someone who can help. List your most accountable contacts, sprinkler guy, etc…whoever you can think of that could help.
7. Be kind, be forgiving, be gracious: If you do come home and there are some casualties, go in your room and cry privately, then come out and thank your caregiver for the attention they paid to the majority of your plants and graciously give them the special souvenir you picked up for them while on vacation. Trust me, they feel bad about it too and will remember to pay more attention the next time, and there will be a next time, that you need a favor. Plus, Rainbow Gardens will always be here to help you replace any plants you might need to replace. Hooray!
Have fun, be safe, and enjoy your summer vacations!
~The Happy Gardener