After looking into the best time to water plants, I discovered much more depth to the answer than I originally expected. This post will answer the question in a detailed manner to get the information you need.
The best time to water your plants is generally first thing in the morning while the weather is cool. These conditions allow the water to make its way into the soil and access the plant’s roots without excess water evaporating and being unnecessarily wasted.
The other bonus of watering your plants early in the morning is that it allows them to cope better with the sun’s heat later in the day, as the water will cool them down.
A common misconception is that watering your plant’s first thing in the morning could lead to them being scorched and damaged by the heat.
This is inaccurate, as it would take extreme heat for the plants to be scorched by water droplets.
Why does it matter when you water your plants?
Watering your plants regularly is one of the most vital aspects of maintaining a healthy garden.
In the modern world, it is common to go for long periods without rain. This has put even more emphasis on gardeners’ need to keep their plants hydrated and using the water we have at our disposal wisely to avoid being wasteful.
So why does it matter when we water our plants? Well, first of all, plants go through different stages at particular times of the day. When the sun comes up in the morning, plants begin to use water.
The soil and nearby foliage usually stay drier in the morning, minimizing the risk of mildew diseases, slugs, and snails.
Just as we wake up naturally with the sun, so do plants. They begin the transpiring process early in the morning and start to extract water from the soil, through their root system, into their stems and then excrete it through the stomata on their leaves.
The advantage of watering early, as opposed to in the evenings, is when the plants need moisture the most. There’s nothing inherently wrong with watering them later on.
In some cases, it can be beneficial, especially as less water is lost to the evaporation process when the weather has cooled later in the day.
But generally speaking, plants will benefit more from getting their water as close to sunrise as possible.
In the following section, we’ll look at the worst possible time of day to water your plants.
This will vary depending on your location’s specific climate, but some general rules of thumb that universally apply to pretty much every environment.
9 Tips for watering your garden
- Water first thing in the morning
- Ensure to utilize roof space to collect rainwater as its better for plants
- Place water storage around the garden for easy access to save energy.
- Utilize gel crystals in hanging baskets and containers to hold moisture
- Water deeply encourages the plants’ roots to go deeper, protecting them from drought.
- Consider drip irrigation to help you save time and water.
- Water the ground and not the plants. This helps prevent the spread of diseases.
- Add organic matter to hold water and reduce the amount required.
- Use a soil meter or your finger to prevent overwatering.
Tip number 4 above is a great way to help reduce the amount of water and the duration of watering that containers require. This video shows you how to do that.
When not to water your plants
The worst time you can water your plants is in the hottest period of the day, especially in summer. This is basically because it will waste a large amount of water due to evaporation occurring.
The moisture evaporates from the top layer of the soil, which diminishes how efficiently the plants can absorb and use water.
It’s quite simple if you think of it as going outdoor swimming on a scorching summer’s day.
No one minds getting wet in those conditions as they know that it will quickly evaporate once out of the water, and they will be dry again.
This process happens to the plants, and the water dries before they have the time to use it efficiently.
How frequently should I water my plants?
When you water your plants is important, but it becomes irrelevant if you either water them too often or too little.
The blanked advice of keeping your plants well-watered can be confusing, so let’s establish the frequency that is required to keep your garden healthy and thriving.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as every plant has varying needs for water intake.
Some plants, in containers, for example, may need to be watered daily if not twice daily to survive. Other kinds of shrubs or vegetable growers may, on the other hand, be fine with natural watering from the rain.
However, one thing to bear in mind is that plants will generally use the water you give them. As long as they’re not being flooded, you can’t do them much harm by providing a little too much water.
The best rule to follow is if a plant starts to look dry, chances are it needs a drink – it’s really as simple as that.
It’s a good idea to research the particular species of plants you have in your garden so that you know the recommended amount of watering they need. As I said, there’s a lot of variation depending on the individual plant.
When is the best time to water your container plants?
Plants housed in containers or pots are prone to drying out more quickly than those planted in the ground.
This is due largely to the smaller soil space that they have access to and the little moisture that the container is capable of storing.
As I previously stated, the best time for all plants to be watered is early in the morning, but container plants also benefit from it in the early evening time, too.
If the soil in your container is dry all the way down to the base, it’s definitely time to give the plant some water. You can usually tell if this is the case by inspecting the soil’s texture and coloration in the pot.
Shriveled leaves and falling petals are a sign that your potted plant is under-watered.
In the video below, I show you how to know when your containers need watering and how best to conserve water. This is for container potatoes but could be for any plants.
One of the factors that will impact when you need to water a container plant is, does it get a lot of sunlight during the day?
If this is the case, and say, for instance, it is kept on a balcony; it won’t get water from the rain and may need watering in the early morning and early evening.
If your container plants are kept outside, you need to consider how regularly it rains in your area. In the summertime, potted plants definitely need two daily watering when the temperature gets over 25˚C or 77˚F.
Again, it’s vital to look into the type of plant to establish how many times it needs watering per day properly.
Why do plants need watering more often in hot weather?
Let’s look into some of the science behind why plants may need multiple watering in hot weather. The process of plants losing water through their stomata is actually vital to keeping them cool.
As the water is secreted through the leaves’ pores, it reduces the overall temperature of the surface area and is a survival mechanism.
When a plant’s water supply becomes short, its stomata shuts down, and the important process of photosynthesis halts. Photosynthesis is then replaced by a process known as photorespiration, which results in carbon dioxide being released.
Plants that survive in the desert can combat this issue by breathing in the nighttime air and then storing supplies of CO2, which can then be used in the photosynthesis process the following day.
This is not the case with the majority of garden plants, however. If they are faced with a water shortage, they begin to wilt, which is basically the first stage of their cells collapsing.
This is a temporary state at first and can be reversed if treated soon enough with watering. They have quite remarkable abilities to recover if the water is made available to them.
If garden plants are exposed to hot weather for long periods without water, the damage can be irreversible.
Permanent wilting occurs, ultimately causing parts of the plant to die and drop off.
Amazingly, some plants have a built-in survival mechanism that allows them to survive a long period without weather by going down below the ground to get to a cooler place and try to survive to the best of their abilities.
Watering your plants in full sun isn’t directly harmful to their wellbeing, but it is a waste of both water and time.
Evaporation will occur, and the plants won’t receive nearly as many benefits as they would if you had watered them first thing in the morning or when the sun is beginning to dwindle in the late afternoon.
Does spraying water on plant leaves help?
Spraying the leaves of a plant is an effective way to remove unwanted dust and dirt from their leaves and deter pests or diseases which may sit on the surface.
This should be done with caution, though, as water sitting on leaves for long periods can make the plant more prone to diseases that thrive in a moist environment.
It is important to remember to think about the amount of water you are adding to your garden. Ensure you provide enough water to saturate the soil fully.
This drives the plants’ root system deeper, making them stronger and fending off the drier times much easier. It will give you as a gardener a little more leeway to ensure you don’t lose your precious plants.
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