watering systems for holiday periods

Booked a holiday from 13-20 may then realised all plants will still be undercover in the greenhouse ( I used the word lightly it’s a self built potting shed/greenhouse but it does the job)

Therefore, I don’t have any fancy equipment to water the young plants still undercover. (I live in the Scotland so nothing goes out until june), Plants will mostly consist of begonias and the usual selection of annuals planted in various sizes of individual pots and trays

Does anyone have any good ideas of something I can ‘rig up’  to provide the plants with water whilst I am away?

I have looked at water spikes, however,  I have  never used them so not sure how effective they are. However, for the number I need, they can be quite expensive

Between dog care and plant not sure if holidays are woth it! image)



  • FleurisaFleurisa Posts: 779

    I have self watering trays which have a shelf within the tray which is covered in capillary matting, the end of the matting goes below the shelf into the water reservoir below and slowly sucks up the water as the plants use it. You can get different size ones from Two Wests and Elliot. You have to make sure the matting is thoroughly wetted and that the pots are in good contact with it. If you get one and set it up a couple of weeks before your holiday you can see if your plants keep watered enough. The larger the tray the more water it will hold

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,171

    Not much choice then Marion, I have a watering system bought twenty years ago when friends let me down (forgot they had promised to water) still works well but fiddly to set up.

    Collect anything that will hold water old washing up bowls buckets plastic trays even cardboard boxes with cling film or plastic inside. Buy a bag of fine gravel cover the bottom of the boxes etc. then just cover with water.

    Set all your pots into the boxes trays etc. packed in close then give a good watering before you leave, put a bit of shade up in case of a hot day, (you do get them in Scotland now and then) but do not cut off all light.

    I also collect used lemonade bottles or plastic milk bottles, punch or drill a couple of holes in the cap fill with water then water the larger pots well and up end the bottle into the compost, as the compost dries the air gets into the bottle releasing the water slowly, it works for me in outside pots and hanging baskets.

    You may find it policy to leave the vents and door open to keep your greenhouse-- garden hut cool, less loss of water.

    Hope some of this helps.

    Regards Frank.

  • Singing GardenerSinging Gardener EssexPosts: 524

    I've just come back from a week's holiday and used a capillary matting system like Fleurisa described. If you do that then you need to make sure that your pots and trays have holes that are flush with the ground and not raised up or they won't work.

  • If you are away for just one week, being in Scotland I would chance a good soaking before you go, leave them in shade and I would imagine they will be OK. Begonias are pretty tough plants and if you leave the greenhouse ventilated I shouldn't imagine they'd dry out completely in a week. It would be useful to put a few buckets of water in with them to give some humidity, and soak the greenhouse floor before you go if you can.

    It's certainly worth monitoring how often they need watering at the start of May - sort of do a trial run to see if you can get away with it?

  • RicgRicg Posts: 2

    I use capillary matting I stand my pots on the matting in a tray with a piece of matting trailing into a bucket of water on the same level making sure all the matting is presoaked the plants will take all the water they need. The longer your away the bigger the bucket it works for me 

  • JimbolenaJimbolena Posts: 114

    I live in the Scotland too, and go away now and again, I love my garden and don't like to impose on folk to water all my plants, my parents will do it no bother but they're miles away and it's not fair on them.

    Anyway, I rigged my own system, it wasn't dear but is taking it a bit seriously, as you need a large container, a timer and irrigation. I've some photos, taken from last year, you don't need the guttering feeding the water butt, but as the guttering was with the greenhouse, I rigged it up. I did all this because I wanted to and enjoy these type of things enormously. image

    Irrigation kits cost £5, a water butt is £15 and a timer is £10 so the cost is time, and a wee bit of fiddling about.

    See my photos


    The hose going into the top is from the house so if there's not been any rain, I fill the butt, it doesn't happen very often as there's a lot of rain and the guttering is very efficient.



    These timers are super easy to rig up and set up, they come with instructions that are really easy to follow.



    I just have my timer set for twice a day, at the cool parts of the day, the drippers just drip away for 20 mins twice a day.

    Of course these are last years photos but I was out yesterday, starting to set it up again. Hope this is useful to you. image and I haven't bored you ! image


  • donutsmrsdonutsmrs Posts: 456

    My husband got me some Auto Pots, they are fed from a water butt and the amount of water is regulated by a small float in the middle of the trays so they never get too much water. I had my fuchsias in them last year and as you can see my tomatoes in the greenhouse.  They work brilliantly and I never have to worry about my plants when I am away.





  • JimbolenaJimbolena Posts: 114

    They look like a good idea, donutsmrs, very simple. I will look into the auto pots..

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,618

    We have been tied to holidaying in high summer while our daughter completes her schooling.   I bought one of those watering pod thingies with individual pipes coming off into each pot of toms and so on in the greenhouse but I find it a pain to set up and the number of pots allowed is restricted to the number of pods you buy so it can get expensive.

    I solved the problem by buying a simple timer from Gardena which attaches to the outside tap and runs on battery power.  I put a Y connector below that to run two hosepipes.  One ends in a sprinkler in the greenhouse and the other is set in the middle of all the outside pots and hanging baskets which I gather into one spot behind the house for the duration of our holiday.

    I set the time to run for 30 to 40 minutes at about midnight so the plants get a good drink and time to soak up what they need before the sun comes out.  Simple, cheap and effective.


    The Vendée, France
  • donutsmrsdonutsmrs Posts: 456

    The auto pots are quite simple to set up, it took my husband about half and hour to do them all. I've got  three sets of two in one greenhouse and 6 sets of two in my other greenhouse and 6 sets of two on the garden path and 3 sets of two along the side of the lawn.

    Have a look on Ebay Jimbolena that' where we got them from, they were used not new so I cleaned them well when I got them home. I have a small square of membrane in the bottom to stop the roots going through, then just fill them with compost. This is my second season with them, best watering system I have had.image

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