Best Time to Water Plants - Liberty Landscape

Best Time to Water Plants Explained

Are you aware that there’s a best time of day to water your plants?

Just as we limit our sun exposure during the sweltering midday heat, plants also thrive best when watered during specific times of the day. Your green thumb could be brown simply due to watering at the wrong time, or maybe you’re a diligent early riser plant parent, unknowingly giving your green family a bigger advantage than you thought.

In the guide, we’ll discuss why morning is generally the best time to water plants and how varying factors like weather and seasons can affect this rule of thumb. But before we delve deeper, here’s what a busy homeowner or business owner like yourself needs to know about watering plants:

  • The Best Time to Water Indoor Plants: Morning, to allow the water adequate time to absorb into the soil before the midday heat.
  • The Best Time to Water Outdoor Plants: Morning, before the sun is directly overhead, to ensure the water reaches the plant roots without excessive evaporation.
  • When to Avoid Watering: Midday, as most of the water will evaporate before reaching the plant roots and a combination of heat and moisture can cause mildew.

Keep reading for a thorough breakdown, as we delve into why these times are best and how to adjust to your specific indoor and outdoor plant needs.

Infographic best time to water plants

Understanding the Role of Water in Plant Health

As plant caretakers, we can all agree that water is a critical element for plant health. But why is that? Understanding the role of water in plant health is fundamental to knowing why it’s so essential to water our plants properly and at the right time.

Water is a key player in plant growth and development. It serves as the medium for chemical reactions to take place in, and it is the main component of plant cells. It also facilitates the transportation of nutrients and sugars produced by photosynthesis from the roots to other parts of the plant.

When plants don’t receive enough water, they can’t perform these vital functions. The leaves might start to wilt or turn down, and in the case of cacti, they can begin to wrinkle. On the other hand, too much water can lead to overly moist soil, causing the roots to sit in water for prolonged periods, which can lead to root rot.

Therefore, the key is to strike a balance and ensure your plants get water when they need it most. As the co-founders of Flourish, a brand that makes organic plant food, put it, “Keeping your plants appropriately watered at a time that works with your schedule is going to be the best way to care for your plants.”

The ‘best time to water plants’ varies based on the type of plant and its specific needs. However, as a general rule of thumb, the morning is typically the best time to water both indoor and outdoor plants, as it gives the water adequate time to absorb into the soil before the midday rays.

In the following sections, we will further delve into why morning is the best time to water your plants and offer tips on how to water them correctly.

A healthy plant - best time to water plants

Why Morning is the Best Time to Water Plants

It’s common knowledge among gardeners and plant enthusiasts that the timing of watering your plants is crucial. But why exactly is the morning the best time to water plants? Here, we dive into the details and provide scientific backing for this widely followed practice.

Lower Evaporation Rates in the Morning

One of the key reasons why mornings are the optimal time for watering plants lies in the temperature and environmental conditions. Early mornings are typically cooler with less wind, which means less evaporation occurs.

Watering your plants in the morning, ideally before 10 am, allows the water to deeply soak into the soil and reach the root systems without much water loss due to evaporation (Iowa State University Extension and Outreach).

Prevention of Fungal Diseases

Another reason to water your plants in the early morning relates to plant health. When watering is completed in the morning, the plant foliage dries quickly. This rapid drying helps guard against the development of fungal diseases that can occur when leaves stay wet for prolonged periods.

If you’re watering with a sprinkler or garden hose, it’s particularly important to water in the morning so that the foliage has time to dry before nightfall. Wet foliage at night can lead to more fungal diseases.

Better Water Absorption by Plants

Lastly, watering in the early morning allows your plants to absorb the water thoroughly and prepare for the day ahead. After a cool night, plants are ready to take up water and nutrients from the soil, which is essential for their growth and health.

If you water during the heat of the day, plants may struggle to uptake water as quickly due to the stress from heat and intense sunlight. By hydrating your plants in the morning, they’re well-equipped to handle the day’s heat and sunlight (Food52).

In conclusion, the best time to water plants is in the morning because it allows for lower evaporation, prevents the onset of fungal diseases, and promotes better water absorption.

The Worst Time to Water Plants: Midday and Why

Knowing the best time to water plants is just as crucial as understanding when not to water them. While watering your plants is generally beneficial, doing so at the wrong time can cause more harm than good. One of the worst times to water your plants is midday. Here are a few reasons why:

Rapid Evaporation During Midday

As the sun reaches its peak during midday, so does the temperature. This increase in heat leads to rapid evaporation of water from the soil surface, making your watering efforts less efficient. When you water your plants in the heat of the day, much of the water you provide evaporates before the plants can absorb it. Therefore, watering at midday can leave your plants thirsty and stressed, despite your best efforts.

Wastage of Water Due to Wind

Midday is often associated with windy conditions, which can lead to water wastage. If you’re using a sprinkler system, strong winds can carry the water onto your driveway, patio, or other non-target areas, reducing the amount of water that reaches your plants. This inefficiency not only wastes water but also means your plants may not receive the hydration they need to thrive.

Potential for Plant Damage

Believe it or not, watering your plants during the heat of the day can also cause physical damage to them. Water droplets can act as tiny magnifying glasses, focusing the sun’s rays and potentially burning the plant’s leaves (Reddit user). Moreover, sudden changes in temperature caused by cold water on hot plants can shock them, leading to wilting or other damage.

Special Considerations for Indoor and Outdoor Plants

When it comes to watering, not all plants are created equal. Indoor and outdoor plants have different needs and environments, which means you should adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Let’s take a closer look at the best time to water indoor and outdoor plants.

Best Time to Water Indoor Plants

For your indoor plants, watering them during the morning is the ideal practice, particularly during the sunniest and hottest times of the year. This approach gives the water ample time to absorb into the soil before the midday sun begins to evaporate it. As Kate Ferguson and Lila Sullivan, co-founders of Flourish explained, “This gives the water adequate time to absorb into the soil for the plant to use before the midday rays.”

At night, it’s best to avoid watering your plants because you’ll want some evaporation to occur. This prevents the roots from sitting in overly damp soil for extended periods, which could lead to root rot or other diseases.

Don’t worry if you occasionally miss your morning watering routine. Indoor plants, especially low-maintenance ones like monstera plants, can handle an evening water or a midday soak on a hot day without adverse effects. The key is to watch your plants for signs of stress, such as wilting or drooping leaves, and water them accordingly.

Best Time to Water Outdoor Plants

For your outdoor plants, the morning is also the best time to water. Megh Wingenfeld, a home and garden creative, advises that “Morning is the best time to water, and the worst time is midday when the sun is directly above.”

Watering in the morning is less harmful for the plant and allows it to soak up all the water before the heat of the day sets in. It’s important to water at the base of the plant, as this is where the roots, which absorb the water, are located.

Watering your plants from above during the middle of the day can cause the majority of the water to evaporate before it reaches the soil. This not only wastes water but can also lead to the burning of your plants during the peak heat of the day. Furthermore, heat combined with moisture can lead to mildew on plants.

Despite these guidelines, remember that nature doesn’t follow a strict schedule. “Mother Nature doesn’t water on a set schedule, and a little surprise rain sprinkle any time of day is always appreciated during July’s heat,” Wingenfeld adds.

How to Water Plants Correctly: Techniques and Tips

Knowing the best time to water plants is fundamental, but the way you water your plants also plays a critical role in their overall health. Let’s dive into some techniques and tips to ensure maximum hydration for your plants.

Watering at the Base of the Plant

It’s essential to water your plants at the base rather than from above. Watering from above may lead to less water reaching the soil as it can be lost due to evaporation or wind. It can also cause damp leaves, which can lead to the growth of fungi or other plant diseases.

At Liberty Landscape, we recommend using a watering wand or a watering can to deliver water directly to the roots of your plants. This method not only ensures maximum water absorption but also helps reduce water waste.

Using Drip Irrigation and Soaker Hoses

For an even more efficient watering method, especially for larger gardens or landscapes, consider using drip irrigation or soaker hoses. These systems deliver water slowly and directly to the base of the plant, allowing the moisture to soak deep into the soil.

These methods can help you save on your water bill because they reduce water waste. They also provide the slow, deep watering that plants need for optimal growth.

Recognizing Plant Cues for Watering

Plants often give cues when they need water, and recognizing these signs can help you optimize your watering schedule. Wilting plants or dry potting mix are telltale signs that your plants need hydration.

For container plants, do the finger test to check if the potting mix feels dry two inches down. If it does, or if you see wilting plants, it’s time to water them.

For new plants you’ve recently added to your garden or a container, frequent watering is necessary since they need time to grow more roots that can absorb water from a larger volume of soil.

The goal is to ensure that your plants receive enough water when they need it. Overwatering can be just as harmful as underwatering, so it’s important to strike a balance.

Watering plants properly is an essential part of maintaining a healthy garden or landscape. At Liberty Landscape, we’re committed to helping you create and maintain a beautiful and sustainable outdoor space. If you need any further assistance or advice, don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Impact of Weather and Seasons on Watering Schedule

The weather and seasons significantly influence the best time to water plants. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and sunlight intensity can affect how much water your plants need and when they should be watered. Let’s delve deeper into how hot weather and winter conditions impact your watering schedule.

Watering Plants in Hot Weather

During hot and dry conditions, plants need more water to survive. Watering them early in the morning, preferably before 10 am, is the best practice as it allows the water to reach the roots before the heat of the day causes evaporation. In fact, Smaug from Food52 emphasises that in the Western US, where ground water supply is limited due to drought, plants that usually require no water may need it. This highlights the importance of understanding your local climate and adjusting your watering practices accordingly.

In hot weather, it’s important to water deeply, approximately every 4-6 weeks. This encourages the roots to grow deeper into the soil, making them more resilient to drought. Using devices like soaker hoses or root feeders that inject water 12″-18″ deep can ensure efficient watering during hot weather.

Watering Plants in Winter

Contrary to hot weather, during winter, plants usually require less water. This is because the lower temperatures and shorter daylight hours reduce the rate of evaporation, allowing the soil to stay moist for longer periods. However, it’s crucial to monitor the moisture levels of the soil regularly as indoor heating can dry out the soil faster.

In winter, it’s also better to water plants in the middle of the day when temperatures are warmer. This gives the water a chance to soak into the soil before the temperature drops at night, reducing the risk of frost damage to the roots.

Conclusion: Optimizing Your Watering Schedule for Plant Health

Watering your plants might seem like a simple task, but the timing can make a significant difference in the health and vitality of your plants. To optimize your watering schedule, understanding the best time to water plants is crucial. Regular morning watering allows your plants to absorb the necessary moisture before the heat of the day, reducing the risk of evaporation and plant stress. It’s also important to water at the base of the plant, as this is where the roots, the plant’s main water uptake system, are located.

For indoor plants, the morning remains the optimal time to water, allowing adequate time for water absorption and evaporation before the evening. However, remember that plants are forgiving beings. If you miss your routine watering, an occasional evening watering or a midday soak for low-maintenance houseplants won’t adversely affect their health as per gardening experts Kate Ferguson and Lila Sullivan from Flourish (source: Martha Stewart).

Remember that your plants also communicate their needs. If you notice leaves beginning to wilt or turn down, or your cactus starting to wrinkle, it’s a sign they need water, regardless of the time of day.

For outdoor plants, watering in the morning is still the best practice, with the worst time being midday. Watering at the base of the plant is essential, as it allows the roots to drink up the water efficiently. It’s also essential to remember that watering during the day is not always a death sentence for your plants, as Megh Wingenfeld, a home and garden creative, points out (source: Martha Stewart).

At Liberty Landscape, we understand that maintaining a healthy landscape takes care, knowledge, and time. Whether it’s developing a sustainable watering schedule or planning a landscape design consultation that will stand the test of time, we are here to help. We are committed to helping you create an outdoor space that is not only beautiful but also sustainable and functional.

We encourage you to visit our gallery to see the captivating landscapes we’ve created. And if you’re interested in learning more about plant care, check out our blog for more helpful articles and guides.

In conclusion, remember that the best time to water plants is in the morning, but the most important aspect is consistency. Regular watering at the right time can ensure your plants thrive and your garden remains a beautiful, relaxing haven.

Optimized watering schedule - best time to water plants

Happy gardening from all of us at Liberty Landscape!