From the University of Missouri Extension Amid the excitement of planning and taking a summer vacation, many people neglect to have someone look after their indoor and outdoor plants during their absence. “If you are going to be away from home for more than a week, you may return to find substantial damage has occurred to plants left unattended. This is especially true for plants growing in containers,” said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension. The ideal solution is to ask a friend who is knowledgeable about plants to check on your plants regularly and water them when necessary. Before you leave, Byers recommends moving indoor plants away from sunny, bright windows so that they will use water less rapidly. “This doesn’t mean putting them in a dark room. They still need bright, indirect light to stay healthy while you’re gone,” said Byers. Immediately before leaving, water all indoor plants. Even allow some water to stand in the saucers beneath the plants’ containers. These changes should enable indoor plants to survive during your absence. However, plants in containers outside need water almost every day. “Place all of your outdoor container plants, including any hanging baskets, in a shady location near the northern side of a building or under the protective cover of a large shade tree or covered patio. Group plants fairly close together since this, along with the shady location, will help slow water loss,” Byers said. If a person will be gone for more than a few days and cannot find someone to help, there are some options worth considering. For example, inexpensive water timers used in conjunction with sprinklers can work, especially if the plants are together in a water grouping. Otherwise, a timer with more sophisticated irrigation and drip systems are available. For more information, contact one of MU Extension’s horticulture specialists or educators in southwest Missouri: Patrick Byers in Webster County at (417) 859-2044, Kelly McGowan in Greene County at (417) 881-8909 or Robert Balek in Jasper County at (417) 358-2158. Or, call the gardening hotline operated by the Master Gardeners of Greene County at 417-874-2963.