Watering my plants has always been an important part of my gardening activities. And, like most people, I believed it was okay to just water my plants anytime and any day. However, I was wrong. I soon found out my plant’s root had traces of rot. So, I looked for studies around this subject in order to find the best time to water my plants. And, here’s what I realized.
It’s better to water your plants very early in the morning just before sunrise. It prevents evaporation allowing the water to be absorbed by the surrounding soil and plants. This ensures that the plant is sufficiently hydrated to maximise photosynthesis throughout the day.
As each plant is different, it requires varying amounts of water. The timing and frequency will also depend on the species of the plant along with its growing conditions. This is not the only thing to factor in when watering your plants.
When Is the Best Time to Water?
It’s not in question that watering at the right time is extremely important for your plant’s health and growth. However, picking a time depends on the season and type of plant. So, when is the best time?
Although not ideal watering later, It may be that your work and family commitments do not allow you to water first thing in the morning. So does this mean you shouldn’t water at all?
Of course not. even though I have stated the best time is in the morning, It is much better to water later in the day than not at all. All plants require water and this fundamental overrules any other factor.
If you can only water in the evening, then this is the best time for you, The plants will do fine, it’s just not ideal.
Watering Your Plants During Summer
Summer comes with quite the view. However, it comes with some challenges for your plants. And that’s why watering your plant during this period is essential.
There is one caveat here. Watering in the evening while it is summer can bring on many other issues.
By watering in the evening, the plants and soil do not have enough time to absorb excess moisture.
As discussed, the best time to water your plants is in the morning. And this is because it allows your plant to absorb water before the sun comes out.
However, ensure you do it early enough, so your plant’s root can absorb water before the water gets evaporated due to the sun’s scorch.
Another great time to water your plants is when the sun isn’t at its strongest. And this is around the early part of the evening.
This way, your plant can absorb the necessary moisture and still have time to dry out.
Generally, you should avoid watering when the sun is at its hottest. And this is because the water will evaporate fast and prevent your plant’s root from absorbing the water.
Differences on Watering Perennial and Annual Plants
Whether they are annual or perennial, your plant also determines when the best time to water is.
Generally, annual plants are those that complete their lifestyle within a year. And they include garden favourites such as:-
They usually have a shallow root and will suffer when the soil dries out. As such, it’s best to water them daily. And early in the morning or early in the evening just like we discussed above.
On the other hand, perennial plants last more than a year, and they have deeper roots that allow them to get through the dry season better.
They include false indigo and butterfly weed, among others. As such, you can water them once or at most twice within a week either early morning or evening.
Watering Container Plants
Water is a vital element for container plants. Containers heat up much quicker and have less soil to hold moisture; this allows them to dry out quickly.
And that’s why they have a unique water requirement. Generally, during summer, water your plants twice in a day, both in the morning and in the evening.
Tip: Heavily cropping plants such as vegetables may even require watering 3 or more times a day in a container.
How Do You Know You Are Not Watering Your Plant Properly?
The goal of knowing the best time is to ensure you water your plants properly. And this is generally to protect your plant’s health.
However, it might be possible for you to err on the side of perfection by watering wrongly in some cases. So, to confirm if you’re doing it wrong, check out for the following.
1. Wet and Wilting
Wilting leaves is a side effect of low pressure within the leaf itself. Consider the leaf as part of your body. It has veins that pass water through them. This is brought up from the roots.
If there is inadequate water available to the roots, it is hard for the plant to keep the water pressure up being pumped through the leaves’ veins.
The leaves then wilt due to lack of water but can often recover when the plant is properly hydrated just as if you put new air into a tyre.
The wet leaves signify that you are possibly watering the plant’s leaves, and not enough is getting to the root system. Water the roots and not the leaves unless you are performing a drench
2. Brown Leaves
If you check your plant’s leaves and they are brown, you’re most likely overwatering. However, you should know that sometimes brown leaves occur due to poor health rather than inadequate watering.
As such, you might need to check your soil to see if it’s wet or dry. And to do this, dip your finger into the ground.
If it’s dry, it is time to water. If it’s wet, you have been overwatering, and if moist, you have been properly watering your plant.
If you are struggling to figure out why the leaves are turning brown, I have a detailed article on this very subject. It takes you through all the reasons why the leaves of your plants turn brown.
Another sign that you’re watering your plant the wrong way is the growth of Edema on your plant. Usually, when you water your plant at the wrong time, your plant might get overwatered.
In case you’re looking for proof of Edema, look out for lesions or blisters on your plant. They might also be white or take the form of deep scar tissue. In other cases, you may find indentations on your leaves.
4. Yellow Falling Leaves
In case you discover multiple yellow leaves on your plant. And then realize that new leaves keep falling off, then there’s a possibility that you are watering wrong.
Knowing how much water each plant requires is paramount.
While one plant might need 1 litre per day, another may only require 1 litre per week. Getting to know your plants intimately can really help you get the task of watering right.
Watering is not the only reason that plants leaves turn yellow. If you are suffering from this, but are sure your watering regime is correct, check out my article Why Do Leaves Turn Yellow.
5. Root Rot Caused by Overwatering
Water is the life of any plant. It is the substance that carries the nutrients and makes them available to your plants in a form they can utilize.
It allows airways to be created throughout the root zone, which in turn keeps your plants’ roots happy and healthy.
However, If you overwater your plants, this has the awful drawback of compacting the soil into a dense slab of mud. This pushes out the oxygen and fills all the water canals that move the water to your plants.
Root systems that are left like this will be sitting in sodden soil and are subject to rotting because of the lack of air.
So, if you find your plant’s root rotting, then there’s a high possibility that you’re watering your plants way too much.
Tip: There are many products available to the grower such as hydrometers which can tell you if there is adequate soil moisture.
How to Water Your Plants Effectively
Watering at the right time isn’t your only cause for concern if you want to come out top in your garden. It’s also crucial to utilize the proper method.
Without following the fundamental methods while watering, you may still have weak plants dying on you.
1. Water with the Right Frequency
Generally, the rule is that your plants need an inch of water every week for their proper growth. However, this isn’t the case with all plants, as some require more water.
As such, it’s best to know the water requirement of your plants. Precisely watering at the right time but with the wrong quantity will only damage your plants.
Also, you can use the finger test to know your plant’s water requirement. If your plant’s soil is entirely dry, water it.
In case you’re in the rainy season, know that you’ll hardly need to water your plants.
2. Water Close to the Roots and Not Over Plant’s Leaves
Another essential thing to keep in mind is to water the root when watering your plants. And this is because your plant’s root needs water for its nourishment.
However, when you focus on the leaves, the water merely evaporates or drips off.
As such, point your watering equipment near your plant’s root and ensure that it gets adequate water. Avoid your leaves as it can be detrimental to your plant’s health.
3. Water Your Plants Deeply
Your plants are generally healthier when their roots are deeply rooted into the ground. Watering allows your roots to take in water, and in turn, grow deeply.
However, this isn’t a function of only watering at the right time. You’ll need water deeply, so the water gets to the top of your plant’s root.
Tip: Avoid just spraying your plants with a hose. This NEVER allows enough water to penetrate. Instead of water and soak the area, then come back 5 mins later and repeat.
4. Check for Overwatering
In life, nothing good comes out of excesses, and this is the case when watering plants. You’ll need to ensure you don’t overwater your plant at any given time.
And this isn’t only for the surface soil, but also 15 to 20 cm deep into your ground. So, check regularly and be sure your plant needs water before watering.
Also, refrain from excessive watering during the rainy season. You already have mother nature doing that for you.
Why Effective Watering Is Important
The answer is quite straightforward. Living organisms need water to complete their chemical process and, in turn, boost growth. And this is the case with plants. They need water to ensure that the soil’s nutrients get to them.
However, nature doesn’t necessarily provide for all the plants’ water needs, especially in the dry season. And this is why you need to water the plants yourself.
However, doing it wrong might harm the plant instead of helping it. And that’s why adequate watering is important.
It allows you to plant to grow properly, and it prevents various dangers such as mould, fungal, and rot from growing on your plants. It also prevents your plant from wilting and allows it to survive drought, among others.
Is It Okay to Water Your Plants in the Evening?
Yes, it’s generally okay to water your plants in the evening. And this is because it gives your plant enough time to get dry again. However, ensure that you water early in the evening.
This way, you can avoid the water resting on the soil or leaves of your plant, which may, in turn, cause the growth of fungi and mould.
When Should You Water Your Plants on A Hot Day?
You can always and should always water your plants on hot days. And since timing is essential, it’s best to do this in the evening, early evening at that.
This is because it allows your plant to have adequate dry out time and still take up water overnight. You can also water early in the morning. Just make sure it’s before the sun comes up.
Should Plants Be Watered Daily?
There’s no one size fit all watering requirement for plants. As such, whether to water your plants daily depend on the type of plant.
For instance, if you have a rainforest plant that’s used to frequent drenching. Then, it’s not a problem to water it every day.
However, for other healthy plants, avoid daily watering. And this is because it can result in crown rot and root rot, among others.
How Long Should Plants Be Watered?
Claiming you’re too busy to water your plant might appear convenient. However, it’s dangerous to your plant’s health. Shallow watering stops your plant roots from growing deep, which may cause it to dry out.
As such, you should water your plant thoroughly. Ensure your plant is deeply soaked, up to 12 inches. This way, it can grow properly.
Water is a necessity when growing plants at home. Without it, they will die. As discussed there is a lot more to watering your plants, but if you take a little time to understand each of the plants you have, you can nail it, so they have a great chance to thrive in your garden.
Take the time to invest in learning this fundamental, and I promise you that your plants will pay you back month after month with beautiful flowers or nutrient-dense food.
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