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Leaving on a Holiday Trip? Let Houseplants Water Themselves

Some houseplants need watering more often during the winter because indoor air is drier than during the summer. But if you're gone for several days on a winter holiday trip, how can you avoid coming home to wilted plants?

One way is to lug all of the plants to your bathroom, arrange them on towels in your tub, water them thoroughly and then pull the door closed when you leave. The drawback is that this is a dirty, time-consuming, back-breaking chore.

Why not try a method that lets your plants water themselves while you're gone? All you need is some polyester knitting yarn, a No. 8 crochet hook, a waterproof saucer for each pot and a handful of small pebbles.

In brief, insert the yarn into the bottom of each pot, which is supported over water in the saucer. Polyester yarn wicks water up into the soil automatically as it dries out.

The first step is to cut a length of yarn for each pot. Measure a piece that's twice as long as the pot height. A 6-inch-tall pot needs a piece of yarn 12 inches long.

Turn the pot on its side and push the No. 8 crochet needle up through one of the holes in the bottom. Slowly press it through the soil until the hooked end emerges from the surface.

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W. Reeves, UGA CAES

PLANTSITTERS water your plants for you while you're away for the holidays or other trips. Walter Reeves, extension horticulture educator, said yarn pulled through the pot with a crochet hook will wick moisture into the soil, keeping your plant from drying out while your'e gone.

Hook the center of the piece of yarn and pull it back through the soil. Bring the yarn only 1 inch through the bottom of the pot. Allow it to hang free.

Place three or four pebbles in the bottom of your waterproof saucer and set the pot onto them. Check to make sure the yarn dangles freely from the pot bottom.

Fill the saucer with water just to the level of the pot bottom. The yarn hanging in the water will wick moisture into the soil as it becomes dry.

Large potted plants may need two or three yarn wicks per pot. Insert each as above.

Now you can leave your favorite houseplants unattended for several days! All you have to remember is to fill each saucer with water before you leave.

(Walter Reeves is a horticulture educator with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and is host of the weekly Georgia Public Television series, "Gardening in Georgia.")

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