Believe it or not, it’s not just about how much water you use, but also about when you apply it to your garden, potted plants, and lawn.
Throughout the day, your plants go through different phases of reacting to the sun. Your plants will look different at 9:00 AM versus 1:00 PM, and that matters for watering.
The best time to water plants might not be what you think, and it might not be so clear. In this, we’re going to go over everything you need to know.
- 1 Plants Require a Constant Supply of Water
- 2 Why is it a Bad Idea to Water Plants at Noon?
- 3 What’s the Ideal Time to Water Your Plants and Lawn?
- 4 Options for Automatic Watering
- 5 Water Them Right, Grow Them Strong
Plants Require a Constant Supply of Water
This does not translate to “make sure you’re constantly watering your plants,” mind you. Plants need water throughout the entire day, which means we need to examine how plants use water from morning until night.
They take excess water from the soil, and gently feed off of it all day.
This water nurtures their roots, which then nurtures all above-ground aspects of these plants. When the soil dries up, which will happen often, the plant reverts to the water stored in the roots that is not currently being used to expand said roots.
The problem is, we have different temperatures, humidity levels, and light angles throughout the day. This affects all plants differently, except when it comes to water. To give them a steady supply of water, we have to ensure a few things.
- We’re Watering Every Day: Few plants can go without water for an entire day (except for just about everything in the succulent family), so we need to ensure we are supplying them with water at least once every twenty-four hours.
- Overwatering Doesn’t Help: The roots can only hold onto so much water. Water only stays in the soil for so long before it’s either used by the soil, dispersed, or dries up, so we can’t soak the ground and expect our plants to act better.
- Too Much Water Kills Plants: If you drown your plant, you kill it. Point blank. It doesn’t take long to drown a plant after you’ve supplied them with too much water, and this can ironically result in wilting. We have to find the right balance.
Why is it a Bad Idea to Water Plants at Noon?
At noon, the sun is at its highest point. In most areas around the United States (save for some ultra humid environments), this translates to the driest, hottest point throughout the entire day.
Your plants can get sunburned, believe it or not, but most of them have a way to prevent this from happening.
During peak sunlight and heat times, your plants will appear as though they’re wilting just a little bit, and the leaves will droop down. This is normal. Your plants are protecting themselves from harmful rays.
When you water your plants at noon, you can actually make it harder for them to stay cool. The water droplets evaporate quickly, but those that don’t will linger on leaves and on the top of the soil, essentially magnifying the heat from the sun.
This can actually burn your plant’s leaves to the point that your plant will assume that they’re dead or damaged, and begin to dispel them from the plant. These leaves or stalks will dry up and fall off, because the plant is trying to cull its own dead leaves.
Watering at noon can be a literal death sentence for your plants, so you want to avoid it at all costs. Instead, follow our guide here on how to water at the right time every single day to give your plant the best possible chance of surviving and thriving.
What’s the Ideal Time to Water Your Plants and Lawn?
In the early morning. As I mentioned before, your plants are going to need a steady stream of water all day long. For this, they need to be watered in the early morning so that the roots and soil have a bit of time to absorb all of that water.
It can take an hour or more, depending on the plant and its stage of life, for roots to absorb enough water and pass it through the entire root system, while still having more water to feed off of. This creates a constant influx of water, which helps your plant when it gets hot out.
During the hotter hours of the day, it can draw on this water to hydrate the leaves and stave off sunburns. Watering during the early morning hours also limits – and for the most part, entirely eliminates – rapid evaporation from the water that you pour down.
It doesn’t immediately turn into vapor and drift off, so your plant is getting every drop of the measured water that you provided for it.
Options for Automatic Watering
If you aren’t around during the morning, that’s okay. There are some automatic watering options that have actually gotten pretty sophisticated over the years, which will seriously help you out. Let’s take a look at them.
Timed Sprinkler System
Sprinklers on a timer – the most classic thing that everyone was doing in the 90s before we had smart systems introduced to us. You can get timers from the hardware store that work with your electric outlets.
If you leave early in the morning, like before the sun rises, then every minute of sleep is precious. You’re trying to make this as automatic as possible so you don’t come home to dry, dead plants in the evening.
Smart Hub Sprinkler System
This is just a little more control over the standard timer-based sprinkler system. The only issue with times is that you can’t measure how much water comes out, only how long it’s on for.
You can make predictions, but with smart sprinkler systems, you can set a specific amount of water to come out, so you’re perfectly watering your plants while minimizing waste. These can be operated from an online console, or from an app on your smartphone, so that you can turn them on at your leisure.
They can be set up with timers, sure, but you can also look up the weather, find that it’s going to be extra hot, and manually turn the sprinklers on from home. See? Full control when you need it, automatic when you don’t.
These fairly simple solutions work like watering spikes or bottles, but with a bit of a twist. These are supposed to be stabbed through the top of the soil, and over time, water comes down a relatively thick glass shaft and douses the soil with water.
When there’s enough water in the soil, it will provide a bit of a water seal, preventing too much water from coming down through the orb shaft. These can actually water your plants for a few days before needing to be refilled, which is helpful.
Self-Watering Spikes and/or Bottles
These are simple, DIY solutions that you can make out of just about anything. It’s popular to use old 20oz coke bottles for these, if you have them handy. You fill a bottle with water about two thirds of the way, and then secure the cap on.
Drill an extremely tiny pinhole in the center of the cap. Test to see if, without squeezing the bottle or applying force of any kind, water will slowly drip out of the hole in the cap when you hold it upside-down. If so, that’s perfect – you now have a slow-drip watering system.
Position this so that the water drips down into the soil immediately surrounding your plant. If you stab this into the soil, air won’t enter the bottle as water escapes, which could cause enough pressure to stop its function.
Irrigation Systems (Drip Method)
Irrigation systems are automatic, drip-based systems that you commonly see in greenhouses.
These can run like metal lines through trellises to drip down on your hanging plants, or they can be placed along a garden bed in the soil, and slowly leak water out of pinholes all throughout the day.
These can be a bit of a hassle to set up, but they’re one of the only well water-friendly options that really exist. It doesn’t require much water pressure to operate, unlike sprinklers, so there are no additional costs associated past purchasing the initial irrigation system.
Whether you go with a smart sprinkler system and put the pedal to the metal, or you just use some inexpensive hand-blown glass orbs, the point is getting water to your plants consistently, all without drowning them.
Water Them Right, Grow Them Strong
New gardeners or container gardeners often make the mistake of over-watering because they feel like it’s benefiting the plant. It’s not.
Avoid overwatering, and water during the specific time of day outlined in this guide. If you water efficiently and thoroughly without going overboard, your plants are going to last a lot longer.