Keeping Your Plants Alive During A Drought

Living through drought conditions is challenging, particularly when the water shortage goes on for months and years, such as it currently has in California and other parts of the Southwest. Although saving water for essential uses should be the priority, you can still work to keep your plants alive without violating any water restrictions.

Gray Water

Gray water is water that you have used but that is not significantly contaminated. For instance, your bathwater and laundry water are considered gray water. You can plug up your drain during showers and not drain the tub after a bath. Then use your buckets and water pails to collect the water to use on your houseplants and outdoor varieties. You will not be using more than your share of water while preserving your well-loved plants. Don’t let your gray water go down the drain.

Watering Schedule

Experts recommend that your plants, including garden plants, get at least an inch of water each week. You should, however, water them once a week or once every two weeks rather than several times a week since smaller amounts of water given more frequently do not have the same effect. When your plants get water less often, they put down deeper roots, which helps them find more water and stay firmly planted. Also, less water evaporates, meaning your plants get the use of more water.


You may need to choose which plants to keep alive. Obviously, you love having a green lawn, but you may need to let your lawn go in order to keep your flowers, shrubs, and trees alive. If you rely on your garden to help stock the family pantry, then aim much of the available water at your vegetables. Obviously, if you have some prized trees, you will want to save them. Fortunately, they can usually get by with several “deep” waterings each year. Pick the plants that are dearest to your heart and the ones that are most practical and spend your efforts on saving them.


You should only fertilize during active growing periods, so when your lawn is in the midst of a drought, you should not attempt to feed it. However, once drought conditions ease and the grass begins to grow once more, it is vital that you help your lawn recover by preparing it during the dormant season and regularly administering lawn fertilization during its first post-drought growing period. 

Surviving a drought puts a great deal of stress on you, but it stresses your plant life even more. You can fight to save at least some of your plants during drought conditions, but you need to formulate a plan and execute water conservation. Use your gray water and follow a watering schedule.  If you focus on your prized plant life, you will minimize your losses.

Read More