Whether you have a sprawling outdoor garden, or a few potted plants on your windowsill, making sure the plants are properly watered is one of the most basic (and important) parts of keeping them alive. But when, exactly, should you do your watering? Does it even matter? When are your plants the thirstiest? As it turns out, according to gardening experts, there is an ideal time to water: in the morning. Here’s what you need to know about watering schedules for both indoor and outdoor plants.
Like humans, plants are also thirsty in the mornings. Here’s why, according to The Sill:
They need to bulk up on water before the sun is shining in full force and cooks the water off. Watering in the morning hours is also a good strategy for plants that do not get as much natural sunlight as they’d like to, because the multiple hours of daylight ahead helps to pull the water out immediately, so they’re not sitting in wet potting mix for too long.
If you have plants like ferns and air plants that also require misting, the experts at The Sill recommend spritzing them in both the mornings and evenings.
Similarly, watering your outdoor gardens, flowerbeds and other vegetation in the mornings helps set them up for the day ahead. As we’ve mentioned before, certain types of outdoor plants fare better when watered at their base with a soaker hose or drip irrigation.
But, as Luke Miller points out in an article for Reader’s Digest, if you’re watering these plants from above instead of below, morning is better because it gives the water a chance to evaporate from the foliage during the day, instead of sticking around overnight and potentially causing foliar diseases. Miller also notes that annuals and vegetables also benefit from morning waterings, because they generally have shallower roots and not as much access to deeper soil moisture.
The same morning-watering policy goes for potted outdoor plants, too. Although, Miller says that during particularly hot summer months, you may have to water these both in the morning and the evening to make sure they’re getting enough moisture. He does note, though, that this isn’t the case for succulents and cacti, who require less frequent watering.
If you just potted or repotted an outdoor plant, Miller says they likely need some extra watering at the beginning:
Newly installed plants require more watering until they’re established. The main thing is to conserve soil moisture with a mulch and to water slowly and deeply to encourage roots to migrate downward rather than concentrating near the top. Check soil moisture with a trowel. If the top two inches of soil are dry, you need to water whether or not plants are showing moisture stress.
Regardless of the size and location of your plants, if you have trouble remembering to water them or sticking to a schedule, set a daily reminder for yourself in your phone or through an app.