When is the Best Time to Water Plants?

Some feel that you should water your outdoor plants first thing in the morning before the sun comes or in the evening when the sun is going down. 

Do you water them when the soil is dry or damp?  All of these questions will be answered in the article

Evening or Morning Watering

Everyone has their own opinion on the best time to water their plants: morning or evening.  Generally speaking, you should administer water from an overhead device like a rain wand or sprinkler in the morning. Watering in the morning sill gives the plants time to dry quickly.  This will help keep fungal spores from doing any damage on the leaves.  If you do not have time in the morning to water your plants and have to do it in the evening, make sure that when you water them that you deliver it to the root zone, where they need it the most.  

Annuals and Perennials

Knowing if your plants are perennials or annuals is a key factor to determine when the best time to water your plants during a heatwave is.

Annuals: These are the plants that finish their lifecycle in one growing season.  Some of these plants include pelargoniums, marigolds, and impatiens.  They have a very shallow root system.  If the top few inches of soil are dry in the summer, they will suffer.  You should water them daily.

Perennials:  These are the plants that become dormant in the fall and bloom again in the spring.  They have a deeper root system that will let them survive periods of drought from one season to the next season.  There are some perennials, like the false indigo and the butterfly weed, that have taproots.  These taproots extend many inches into the soil, tapping into water reserves during times without rainfall.  You should water these plants is once or twice a week.  Do it slowly and deeply so the water has time to soak into the soil and not run off.  

Vegetable Gardens

There are no drought-tolerant vegetable plants.  If you do not irrigate, or water, your vegetable garden it can lead to stunted vegetables, blossom drop, and even death of the plant.  They need the extra water during a heat wave, especially squash, cauliflower, cucumbers, radishes, celery, and pepper plants.  These are the plants that demand soil that is consistently moist in order to produce the best crop.  You should place a hose at the base of the plant or use drip irrigation so you do not wet the leaves.  Water them in the morning if you have to rely on sprinklers so the sun can dry the foliage.

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watering plant

Container Plants

With these types of plants, water almost functions like fertilizer.  Plants that are not getting enough water will look shabby and stunted but if they are well-irrigated they will show lush growth.  In the summer, water is not as important for these plants.  You should water them two times a day; once in the morning to give them a boost before it gets too hot and then in the evening to replenish what the sun took away.  

Trees and Shrubs

For trees and shrubs, a passing rain will not give them the water they need.  They need to be watered deeply in order to have a healthy root system.  Sometimes it is a good to water your trees and shrubs after a light rain so all the moisture will go into the deeper levels.  It is more important to give them a complete soaking instead of the time of day you do it.  You can put a hose at the base and let it run until the top eight inches is moist.  For newly planted ones, you should water them at least two times a week if it is really hot.  You should keep watering them through the fall to help get them ready for winter dormancy.

General Facts

  • Never water your plants at noon because that is when there is more exposure to the sun because, at this time, the water will evaporate quicker.  This will prevent the plants from getting the necessary water they need.  The leaves may also burn easier when they are wet.  When you water them in full sun, you could damage the plant due to the heat transfer of what happens when cold water contacts the hot plant.
  • Most plants require more water during sunrise because it activates their metabolic activity as they become warm from the sun.  Their need for nutrients and vitamins are much higher at this time.
  • When you water them in the morning it can save water because there is minimal evaporation so the plants can make more from a smaller amount of water.
  • When you water them early it will help to avoid excess moisture on them.  When watering them at night, there is no sun to help get rid of the excess moisture so it can increase the chance of the plants getting a fungal infection.
  • When you water your plants in the evening, they do not make use of the water because that is when a plant rests. At this time, their metabolic activity is lower so they need more water in the morning so they will be active during the day.
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Also read: 5 Signs you are Overwatering Your Plants


It is easy to say that watering your plants in the morning is best. Their metabolic rate is just starting out because they are ‘waking’ up.  Make sure that if you do have to water them at night that you try to avoid getting their leaves wet to help prevent a fungal infection.  Do not overwater your plants.  If the soil feels moist, wait until the next day to water them, especially container plants.  Container plants should have holes in the bottom to let the excess water drain out.  At first, it may be hard to know when to water your plants but as time goes on you will know just by looking or touching if it is time to water them.

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