Looking for ways to keep your plants alive while spending time away from home? Caring for plants while traveling is essential to keep your garden thriving. Enjoy your vacation without worry by following these simple tips.

With summer fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about how your gardens, no matter how big or small, will be cared for while you are out of town.

From houseplants to flowers and vegetable gardens, to container garden care, there are few things we can do to ensure plant survival while we are away.

Because I’ve mostly gardened with native plants, my gardens are used to whatever elements are thrown their way with very little care.

It’s one of the reasons I love to garden with native plants.

They are just easier.

But, I also have houseplants, annuals, vegetables and seedlings that need a bit more care.

So it’s important to plan ahead to make sure all the hard work we’ve put in with our plants survive a weekend or more of us away.

Most of my gardens around the property are self-sufficient and don’t need much care to thrive while I’m away.

However, my container gardens, houseplants, seedlings, and annuals need more care than that.

And they are mixed in all over my property.

Here’s how to take care of plants and keep plants alive while away on vacation.

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close up of creme caramel coreopsis

Caring for Plants While On Vacation

No matter how big or small your garden is, ask someone to care for or look in on your plants for you.

Of course, no one will care for your garden as you do, but with a little coaching, they will do a great job so you can enjoy your trip.

Even if you have an irrigation system, it’s still wise to ask someone to check in on them to make sure everything is working properly while you are away.

Before explaining how to take care of plants while on vacation, it’s important to fully understand basic plant care as well as how to care for container gardens.

Because if we don’t understand the basics, it’s going to be difficult to explain what our plants need to someone else.

The Secret to Keeping Houseplants Alive

The most important thing is not to overwater or underwater because either can stress or kill your plants.

And it’s an easy mistake to make.

Irrigation systems on timers are great time savers and can do a lot for you.

But if it rains, it’s cool out, and/or plants don’t need to be watered, you could be doing more harm than good to your gardens.

So you may need to adjust the watering schedule accordingly.

Here are tips to help avoid overwatering plants both inside and outside your home.

While much of my plant care blogs focus on houseplants, the general principles are the same.

Caring for Plants Before You Leave for Vacation

  • Do some basic garden and plant maintenance. Harvest ripe vegetables, deadhead spent flowers, weed, and clean up garden debris.
  • In general, give plants a good watering before you leave to ensure they get a good drink of water. Keep in mind some plants may need less water than others so take that into consideration when watering (or not watering). And depending on the size of your garden, take notes for your caretaker.
Watering Day for Houseplants

Vegetable Garden Care

Before leaving for vacation, explain to caretakers how to water plants and harvest vegetables that are ready. (see tips below)

It’s really important to site gardens in locations where it will not only be easy for you to care for but for caretakers as well.

I made the mistake of not siting my vegetable garden in the best place several years ago.

Before redoing my vegetable garden last year, it was not close to a water source.

Which is a big no-no. At the time, I had few options to site a vegetable garden in the ground so we were limited and I started that garden far away from a water source.

And since we did not have an irrigation system, watering that vegetable garden was not easy.

It’s one of the reasons I wanted to move it to the center of the backyard so it was closer to the hose.

self-watering raised garden bed

And these self-watering raised garden beds were a huge help for three reasons.

For starters, they are self-watering so they hold water in reservoirs below the root system and dispense water to the roots as needed.

But second, because we used raised garden beds, we were able to site them in an area of the yard where we could not plant a garden in the ground (on a septic bed).

And three, this location was MUCH closer to a water source making it easier to fill the reservoirs.

So now, these beds are less work for my garden caretaker because I’ll fill the reservoirs before we leave and the beds will take care of themselves.

I mean, how easy is that!

Caring for Plants in Vegetable Garden: Quick Tips

  • Focus on watering roots instead of the plant foliage to help prevent pests and disease.
  • Describe how long to water each plant or container because “watering” is subjective. I typically ask caretakers to water 10 seconds per area.
  • Ask caretakers to water plants as early as possible in the day so they can dry out before nighttime. Watering later in the day or evening hours promotes pests and disease problems because it gets dark and the temps cool down.
  • Ask caretakers to harvest any ripened fruits or vegetables so that they don’t rot or get eaten by pests while away.
potager garden with dining table and chairs to create an outdoor dining space among the riased garden beds
New raised garden beds in 2023

Caring for Plants in Container Gardens

Whether you have houseplants, annuals, or vegetables in containers, here are some tips to help keep them happy while you are on vacation.

  • Pull all of the sun-loving containers out of the sun so they do not dry out as quickly while you are away.
  • Group outdoor planters together into one area so it is easier for the caretaker to water.
  • Since “watering” is subjective, ask caretakers to water 10 seconds per pot.
  • Water planters the day you are leaving to ensure they get watered well.
  • If containers are indoors, check thermostats and set the temperature to range between 65-75 degrees F and not fall below 55 degrees. Extreme coldness or hotness can stress or kill plants so keep them comfortable while you are gone.
  • When indoors, keep plants away from air vents, sunny and drafty windows.
  • Or invest in a drip irrigation system like this one and run drip lines to containers. But keep in mind watering needs and group plants with similar needs on the same drip line.
  • Before watering containers, check for dryness using THIS METHOD.
Summer front porch planters filled with flowering annuals from proven winners. Old farmhouse front porch with front door wreath, planters, stone lions, harlequin tile walkway and fresh eggs sign

Young Seedling Care

Since I started seeds indoors and have recently planted them, seedlings require more care during hot dry spells while we are away, particularly while establishing themselves.

Much like annuals, they need to be watered and cared for regularly.

And some seedlings will need to be staked or pinched back as they grow.

Take care of any staking or pinching back before you leave if those seedlings need it because they can grow quickly while you are gone.

As for watering needs, seedlings may require more coddling while they establish themselves and grow.

They will need a proper balance of staying hydrated without overwatering.

Understanding their needs as your climate changes is very important, or you could lose them.

So be cognizant of the weather and their needs as they establish and mature into stronger plants.

snapdragon seedlings are hardened off an ready for planting in the garden

How to Water Gardens When You Don’t Have an Irrigation System

My gardens are quite extensive.

But a large majority of the beds are native plants, trees, and shrubs so they pretty much take care of themselves and have not needed an irrigation system.

Lately, I’ve been tucking in more annuals and seedlings around the property.

And they need more care.

Since we do not have an irrigation system set up, manual care is necessary.

For the larger cut flower garden in front of the garden shed, I set up a sprinkler system that can be turned on and off.

Not the best or most efficient way to water, but it will get the job done.

And as long as they water earlier in the day, the gardens will do fine.

In other areas of my gardens, I ran these soaker hoses around plants that will need extra help during the growing season when it does not rain.

How to Take Care of Plants While on Vacation

Tips for Caring for Flower Gardens While Away on Vacation

  • Look ahead that the weather. Is it going to rain? Will it be hot? Will it be cooler? These considerations will help give more explicit instructions to caretakers while you are away.
  • If it’s going to be hot and humid with no rain, water daily in the mornings.
  • If it’s going to be cooler with no rain, instructions will depend specifically on your climate and type of plants.

Caring for Plants After Returning from Vacation

When returning from vacation, walk the beds, and check your containers and houseplants to see how everything held up while you were gone.

Doing so is important because it will alert you to issues early on that arose while away.

view of our 1850 farmhouse with front porch and beautiful flower gardens from the pool garden with green fence - has roses, bearded iris, buckeye tree, viburnum, and baptisia

What to Do If Plants Look Like They Are Dying

If you went on vacation and your gardens are looking less than stellar, caring for plants may be a bit tricky but you can try reviving them with these tips.

I’ve seen plants almost completely dried up, brown and devoid of life, bounce back after spending the time to rehab them.

While not all plants bounce back, some will do better than others.

At that point, what have you go to lose?

Thanks so much for following along. I hope you have a great trip!

1850 farmhouse with expansive flower gardens, container gardens, hanging baskets on front porch

More About Caring for Plants While on Vacation

Do you have any special tips you’d like to share that would help care for plants when traveling? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

The potager garden with raised garden beds filled with herbs, vegetables and flowers with outdoor dining table and green garden fence

More Houseplant Care Tips and Tricks

The sunroom is filled with houseplants like spider plants, sansevieria, chinese evergreen, pileo and boston fern. Shown are white swivel chairs, jute area rug, boho poof ottoman and fresh herbs sign as part of my cottagecore decorating style
Sunroom filled with houseplants in my 1850 farmhouse

Looking for More Flower Garden Ideas?

If you love flowers and want to grow more in your garden, here are some posts that will get you on your way.

From tucking in flowering plants that are deer-resistant or ones that attract more butterflies and hummingbirds, to shade-loving flowers like the lenten rose, these posts will get you on your way to growing a garden that will bring joy for years to come.

Here are more cut flower and cottage garden growing tips, tricks, and design inspiration.

close up of creme caramel coreopsis

Garden Supplies I Use

I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

Click here to shop my vintage farmhouse with close up of the front porch with flowers

Pin It to Remember It Later

view of zen garden with container gardens fillled with flowers
chinese evergreen and white amaryllis flower with a clock

Bricks ‘n Blooms Weekly 171

Hi there! I hope you had a great week! Random Things Happening Behind the Scenes at Bricks ‘n Blooms Where do I even start about the week? My Garden Damage We had some snow earlier in the week and when our plowing service came (who is also our landscaper) they drove 15 feet through my…
Read More Bricks ‘n Blooms Weekly 171

Want to learn more about me?

I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as finding ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes.

Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

stacy ling cutting dahlias in her garden
Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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cottage garden shed with window boxes and picket fence and purple flowers
Outdoor Living Space Home Tour
How to Take Care of Plants While On Vacation with view of backyard garden with raised garden beds filled with vegetables in suburban backyard
yellow bearded iris in bloom
How to Plant a Garden After Starting Seeds Indoors
Daffodils at sunset
lilac in the backyard
How to Plant Flowers in a Window Box Planter
Front Yard Cottage Garden with alliums in suburban front yard in new jersey
Shed Garden at Sunrise in May
Early Spring in the Garden
How to Take Care of Plants While on Vacation
My Thrift Store Vintage Finds for the Garden
Self-Watering Raised Garden Beds in backyard suburban garden filled with vegetables

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18 Comments

  1. Great ideas. I find even if it rains, the container pots still need watering as the plant itself blocks the water from going into the container.
    Have a wonderful summer and please keep us posted on all your good thrift finds.

  2. When I was reading your Bricks ‘n Blooms weekly post on Saturday I was wondering how you maintain your beautiful yard and garden when you go to Vermont to stay in your vacation home. You have a great system set up so you don’t have to worry about your NJ property while you are in VT. Great post with so many helpful tips!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I’ve had it down to a science in prior years, but this year with all the seedlings. They are definitely more work!

  3. Pingback: Dirt Road Adventures - Memorial Day Weekend - The Ponds Farmhouse
  4. Thanks for sharing this great advice, I was planning for vacations and this was the last thing that I needed to make it worry free.

  5. These are great tips! I needed this as we’re leaving for vacation in a few weeks. Thanks for sharing!