How to Keep Houseplants Alive While You're Away

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You no longer have to pray they make it without you.

Every time I leave town, I take a deep breath and look at my houseplants.

"I'm sorry," I tell them in my mind. "I have to go. I hope you'll make it."

I've told people to water them before, but people forget, and I know there's a good chance my time away will be catastrophic for them.

But I recently came across a tip that could fix this problem. Martha Stewart just came out with a new manual, and it has a pretty cool set of instructions for keeping plants watered. Here's what you do:

1. Just before you leave, water your plants. (Obvious, but it must be said.)

2. Put all the potted plants in a small tub.

3. Crumple and wet some newspaper.

4. Stick the newspaper around the pots, filling in all the gaps.

Or, method #2:

1. Soak a piece of nylon clothesline in water for half an hour.

2. Water and drain the plant.

3. Fill a container with water and place it above the plant (not directly above, just higher than the plant).

3. Stick one end of the clothesline in the soil and one in the container. For larger plants, use more than one clothesline.

The book says these methods will keep plants watered for up to a week, but I suspect many plants will last longer. After all, plenty of plants only need to be watered once a week anyway.

Happy travels! For you and your plants.