If you’re here, you know that growing weed takes a lot of patience and attention. But sometimes, you need to get away from your precious cannabis babies. Perhaps there’s a family emergency, or maybe you’re just craving a week at the beach. Can’t find a babysitter for your precious marijuana plants? Fear not – the whole grow doesn’t have to be for nothing!
How Long Can You Leave Your Plants Unattended?
Whether you just want to get away for a couple of days or have a whole vacation planned, we’ve got the answers to your questions on leaving cannabis unattended for an extended period of time.
So, how long exactly can your weed plants survive without your attention? A long weekend away is unlikely to do any lasting damage, as long as the plants are thoroughly watered beforehand and the rest of your equipment is in good shape.
However, it should be said that longer than a week without care is not going to be good for your cannabis plants. We recommend not leaving your plants unattended for any longer than seven days, or else you risk the entire crop wasting away.
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Can You Leave Hydroponic Systems Unattended?
Although growing with a hydroponic setup can produce some awesome results, it’s not recommended to leave one alone for too long. Hydroponic systems are certainly easier to automate and can self-sustain themselves to some degree.
However, if for some reason there’s a system failure and you’re not around to address the issue, it can prove detrimental to the entire grow. Plants can die within hours of a failure, or even within as little as 30 minutes. If you (or a trusted friend) aren’t home to catch the problem, the cannabis plants are certain to wilt and die.
Consider the Growing Cycle
An important aspect to keep in mind is this: at what stage of growth are your cannabis plants? Depending on whether your lovely ladies are in the vegetative or flowering stage, it’s your responsibility to keep the light schedule in mind as well as watering and feeding. If you’re going to be gone for a while, here are some things to consider.
Leaving Plants in Veg
Photoperiod plants prefer consistency in their light! And if you’re not home, how are they supposed to get that? If you haven’t already gotten a timer for your lighting set-up, it’s probably about time to invest in one before you head out. Automating the lights will just make life easier.
When leaving autoflowering plants on their own for a while, you can probably get away with using all natural light when you’re gone. Since they make the switch to flowering on their own, it’s less crucial to maintain a specific light schedule than with photoperiod plants. However, if you use a timer set on a longer period of light, you’re likely to have bigger yields in the end.
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Leaving Plants in Flower
Leaving your plants unattended while they’re in the flowering stage can be a tricky situation. The lights should be set to 12/12, so there’s no way to leave your indoor plants without the timer set if you don’t want them to reveg. Also, have they finished their stretch period yet? Maybe it’s a good idea to raise the lights up a bit to give them some room. For autoflowering plants, you could also try shortening the light cycle by an hour or two in order to reduce evaporation.
A word of advice: if your plant is due to be ready for harvest in the next week or two, it’s better not to leave them uncared for. It would be a real shame to miss that perfect day for collecting the buds!
Covering Your Plants' Watering Needs
Now that you’ve taken lighting into consideration, it’s time to think about how your plants will get enough water while you’re gone. Any grower of cannabis knows that plants will dramatically droop over when underwatered, and they can only survive this state of being for a limited period of time. Luckily for you, there are some ways to extend cannabis plants’ limits so you can relax while out on vacation.
Water Heavily Before Leaving
The last thing you should do the night/morning before leaving the house is make sure your plants are all very well-watered. Water all seedlings and mature plants thoroughly and heavily. This will keep your grow well hydrated for the first few days. Make sure to let any runoff escape so that the pots don’t get oversaturated with moisture. Of course, you want to make sure your plants are well-watered, but don’t overdo it!
Use Trays for Extra Feeding
After generously watering your plants, you can also create a sort of extra reserve in case they get thirstier than expected. You can do so by transplanting your cannabis plants into bigger containers with proper drainage and placing them on top of a tray or saucer. Once you’ve heavily watered your plants, you should notice any extra water draining into the tray. This will act like a sort of emergency reserve for your plant, which will suck up any needed water from the tray while you’re gone.
Lightly Defoliate Before Leaving
Here’s another little trick for making sure your plants get enough water while you’re away. Lightly defoliate strong, mature plants before you go. Look specifically for leaves at the bottom of the plant, or ones that look a little limp or yellow around the edges. Trust your instincts on which leaves should stay or go and how many to take. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but consider this: with fewer leaves, the plants will need less water.
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Make a Simple DIY Watering System
When in a pinch, there’s a tried-and-true way to make your own DIY watering system. This method is quite simple, but it will do the trick if you don’t have much extra cash to spend or have minimal time to come up with a solution.
For this watering system, you will need:
- Several gallon jugs of distilled water or one large container
- Natural twine, like hemp cord
- Duct tape
- Something to secure the twine inside the pots, like rocks or stakes
- Calculate how much water your plants will need when you’re away. Be generous and fill up your container(s) with more than enough distilled water.
- Place the containers around the plants, ideally elevated above the root zone. By doing this, you can ensure that your plants will get watered thanks to gravity and the law of communicating vessels.
- Cut long pieces of twine with enough length that one end touches the bottom of the container and the other can be secured into the soil of your plants.
- Tape over the openings of the containers using duct tape as a method to slow down the evaporation process.
- Place the remaining end of twine onto the soil of each of your pots, and secure the twine with something heavy to ensure that it doesn’t fall for any reason.
- Voila! The water will now travel from the containers into the soil as needed, allowing you to take your vacation in peace.
What to do Upon Your Return
We hope you had a nice trip! And now, it’s back to work. Try not to run full-speed to your growing room – oh, who are we kidding? Of course you’re going to drop your luggage in the hallway and beeline to check on the ladies! Give them a full examination: inspect the leaves, soil, and buds. How did the watering system work out? I bet they’re still a little thirsty anyway, so give your girls a well-deserved watering before you plop onto the couch!
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