Summer is here! The feeling of warm sunshine on your skin and the sound of rolling waves on white sand beaches — man, it makes you want to get away for about two weeks, doesn’t it?

Now imagine coming home with a nice, even tan and smelling like the ocean, only to find all your plants withered and dry to the bone. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to choose between vacationing and sacrificing your favorite plants. Here are a few tips and tricks to set your plants up for success while you’re away.

Make it rain

You should always give your plants a thorough watering whenever you plan on being away for more than a week. The best way to go about this is by drenching them in the sink and letting them drip dry.

Bring your plant into your sink and water until it comes out of the drainage hole. Feel free to repeat the process until the pot feels much heavier than before. This allows your plant’s roots to have access to moisture in the soil for an extended period of time.

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(Courtesy of Ryan Rhodes)

Engineer it

Self-watering planters can be a lifesaver, and are set up so your plants can stay hydrated without your help. These pots have a built-in reservoir that holds water, which the plant’s roots draw from (a process called capillary action).

This basically means they take up water as needed through a water-absorbing material (like cotton rope), keeping the soil consistently moist. This system ensures your plants stay hydrated for several days, making it ideal for when you’re away.

Give ‘em the goo

If you grew up in the early ‘90s, I’m about to unlock a core memory from your childhood. Remember those gel beads called Orbeez? Yeah, you do. Those squishy water beads were the “it” toy for a while.

Turns out those super absorbent polymer beads offered more than sensory play and relaxation. Mixing hydrogel crystals — which will probably look a lot like Orbeez — into the soil can help retain water for plants. These crystals absorb water and release it slowly, keeping the soil moist for an extended period.

Let’s huddle

Grouping plants together can create a space with higher humidity, which helps reduce water loss. Grouping everyone together also makes it easy if you decide to hire a plant sitter. If you decide to group your plants, just make sure they are compatible in terms of light and water needs.

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(Courtesy of Ryan Rhodes)

Screening the sun

Move your plants away from the window or put the shades down. Less light means slower water intake, which allows your plant to go longer without a fresh topping off. You can essentially trick your plants into thinking it’s been a cloudy two weeks so they won’t need as much water while you are away.

(Courtesy of Ryan Rhodes)

Plant-sitters club

Just like you would hire a babysitter, you can hire a plant sitter! Find a friendly neighbor you trust and ask them if they would be willing to come over every few days to check on your plants. You can leave a list of the different types of plants that need different care, but it helps if you make the process as easy as possible for the sitter.

Group plants together that require similar care and label them based on their needs. This way it’s much easier to navigate, and you can feel good about your plants while you’re away.

(Courtesy of Ryan Rhodes)

Welcome back!

Once you return, check on your plants, say hello and tell them about your vacation. They’re excellent listeners, and have probably missed you very much. Place them back in their original spots (if you moved them), and check for any signs of new growth from them while you were gone!

Traveling and maintaining healthy plants are not mutually exclusive. With a bit of planning and the right strategies, you can enjoy your vacation without worrying about coming home to sad, neglected plants. So go ahead, book that trip, soak up the sun and rest easy knowing your green friends can be well taken care of. You deserve it!

Hilton Carter is a plant and interior stylist, artist and author from Baltimore.