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How to keep your plants alive while you’re on vacation

plants on vacation

Vacation time! Finally!

Your tickets are in your bag, your carry-on is teeming with clothes, and your passport is ready for another stamp. Your kids cannot wait to get on that airplane and your dog is already in your neighbor’s trusty hands.

But wait. Don’t you feel like you’re forgetting something (and something really important, at that)?

If you’ve been a gardener for a few short months, it is most likely you are taking off without thinking about your plants. And now that you realize this, panic takes over. How are they going to survive this heat? Who is going to water them morning and evening? Who is going to pick those beautiful, ripening tomatoes in your backyard?

Vacation is a moment of utmost freedom. It’s the light at the end of the “everyday routine” tunnel. And it’s one we greatly look forward to all year.

Having crops and plants, though, is like having pets. They most likely won’t come with you, so you then need to find a solution to care for them while you’re away.

But it’s not always easy to find a neighbor who is willing to visit your little green guys every day. So what now?

Check out the suggestions below to see if any might work for you. They just require a bit of preparation prior to your departure.


Of utmost importance in summer, watering systems are easily arranged. Here are a few.

  • Set the timer on your sprinkler. The easiest way to water while you’re gone! Move your plants in containers near those in the ground so they, too, can benefit from the watering.
  • Drip irrigation. You can buy a whole kit at any nursery near you. It’s easy to put together and has a timer to schedule watering sessions. Make sure the kit’s hose is long enough to reach your whole veggie patch or flowerbed. This works best for plants in the ground.
  • Mulching. This system is useful if you’re gone about a week or so. Simply put a few inches of mulch around the base of your plants and water generously right before you leave. A few leaves might droop, but you shouldn’t lose any crops. This works for plants in the ground and in containers.
  • Self-watering globes. You can find these at any nursery. They are really good for plants in containers. Water your plant thoroughly right before you leave. Then place the globe head down in the soil. It drips slowly and gets the plants through about one week’s worth of water.
  • Do-it-yourself watering system. Probably the most fun, this can be used both for plants in containers and those in soil. Grab a few of the largest plastic bottles you have. Make small holes on their bottom side. Then push them deep into the soil and fill them up with water. Give your plants a thorough watering right before you leave and let the bottles work their magic.
  • Hire a gardener. This works wonders when you are planning a vacation of two weeks or more. You’ll be happy you did!
  • Organize a watering group in your neighbourhood. You and your neighbors can take turns taking care of each other’s gardens on rotation.


  • Harvest as much as you can before you go. Then distribute your produce to neighbors and those in need. Or freeze your harvest so you have something healthy to eat when you return.
  • Organize a “garden group” in your neighbourhood. Your neighbors will harvest fruit and vegetables in your absence. Then you can do the same in their garden when they are gone.

Test run the proposed solutions before you leave, to make sure they work well. And, above all, remember to be realistic. These suggestions may work, but conditions in your absence are out of your control. So if you return to droopy plants, tend to them right away. If they happen to dry up, keep in mind that there is a new season coming up. And you’ll do better next time. Practice makes perfect!


Michelle Calcatelli

Michelle Calcatelli

Hi there! My name is Michelle. I'm an American living in Italy, mom of two girls, a lover of travel, music and good food shared with loved ones. I am a freelance grant writer and a former agricultural development practitioner, having worked mostly in rural Africa for 18 years. I look forward to creating a space here - with your help - where we can exchange dreams, ideas and kindness to start shaping a better tomorrow.

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