Reduce your water usage in your garden pots and beds with this one slick trick

By Amanda Rose | Garden

Jan 20

Reduce your water usage in your garden pots and beds with this one slick trickI thought living through California’s last drought changed all of my patterns — never letting that water run when you’re brushing your teeth, saving a few flushes. The current drought is really far worse and I’m actually an adult in this one with real-world responsibilities and simply have to plan more for the longer-term.

Really, what IF our well dries up? We are luckier than most because our well taps an underground river in the Sierra. We’re at the headwaters of it all and that is some security.

However, I’ve started planting our five acres in herbs and will have increased watering needs. The herbs are drought-tolerant but they would benefit from a monthly sprinkle in the summer.

How can I keep them healthy while limiting their water intake?

That question is why my eyes widened like saucers when I met Hope at Los Osos Valley Nursery on California’s central coast.

We’ve dropped into the nursery since I was a little girl when we visited Los Osos and Montana de Oro. They have always had interesting and unusual plants but I had never realized before that the real gem there is actually Hope herself.

Hope offers this advice: Add corn starch to your potted plants to help them maintain their moisture and reduce their watering needs.

  • In a one-gallon pot, use two tablespoons of corn starch
  • In a five-gallon pot, use 1/4 cup of corn starch

Reduce your water useage in your garden pots and beds with this one slick trickShe even sprinkles corn starch in her landscape beds. I asked how often she re-applies it. “Never,” she said.


You can buy corn starch in bulk at a store like Smart & Final or you can purchase organic corn starch through a bulk food co-op.

Here are some of the plants I bought from Hope, including that choice butterfly sage that ended up with lots of babies. Nurseries like this that carry more unusual plants can end up with some that have been there a while. Planting season is still some weeks away so I repotted them, put them in a temporary greenhouse, and will plant them in 6-8 weeks.

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x