To date, we don't have a "garden sitter" in our area - fact is I don't think we've ever had that service in this area. We have friends and family who offer to help, but, they aren't gardeners in the sense they may not know what they need to watch. They don't have that intrinsic feeling that a specific plant needs a specific whatever.
We're not gone long enough at a stretch to warrant giving away the plants and so...........
I put plant saucers and various deep containers under most pots or hanging plants and set them in the shade. A few love this, a few die of rot and a few dry up anyway. The biggest "few" are just stunted and never really get lush again the rest of the year. A few pots are too big, odd sized or heavy to sit in a saucer and they REALLY look bad. The window boxes are sad and should be torn out and replanted with something "fallish".
A few annuals I bought the week before vacation (really, who can resist 75% off a really beautiful watermelon colored nasturtium or the cute peppermint striped zinnia???) were planted and deep watered. Quite root bound from living in that little packet, they needed good watering every day after planting. The nasturtium didn't do well after a week's worth of neglect - the zinnias have established and are now florishing.
Unlike my daughter, I'm not the greatest container gardener. Every year I think I'll match her lush containers of healthy florishing flowers. Every year I don't. I want beautiful flowers in containers. I start off with beautiful flowers in containers. I neglect. I pay. And then, vacation brings them to a dangerously lethal level.
I vow to learn from my mistakes. Each year I vow. Each spring my brain totally blocks out my failures and lack of container gardening success. Each spring I rush madly through the nursery isles putting colors and plants together for the most beautiful containers every seen in the Midwest - possibly the entire world.
What did I learn this year? Blame the vacation and not my own lack of care prior to the leave-of-absence. Grasses, ferns, rose moss and foliage, in containers, survive better during neglect. Mandevilla is happy sitting a week in a tub of water, getting dropped upside down on our return, and over and under watering the rest of the summer. Or it was the fact my daughter gave it to me - she touched it first - could it be that's all it takes for a container plant to florish in my garden???? A new theory to absolve myself of container failure blame!