Watering: The best time of day to water the plants in your garden – how to do it

Gardeners' World: Monty Don gives advice on watering plants

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Watering too little or too often can wreak havoc on the health of your plants, but it’s not just the frequency you should pay attention to. Giving your garden a drink at the wrong time of day can be equally as damaging – so when exactly is the best time to do it? Here’s everything you need to know about when to water your plants during the warmer months.

Water is an essential part of growing healthy plants, especially in dry spells when there is little rainfall.

While the bright weather and warm temperatures are ideal for giving plants plenty of sunlight, they can quickly suffer if you don’t pay close attention to dry soil and scorched foliage.

Without water, plants will start to wilt and may even die out – so when is the best time to hydrate your garden?

When is the best time to water garden plants?

Many of us reach for a cold drink during the hottest parts of the day, but you should never apply this same principle to your plants.

While it may seem like the best time to water sun-soaked plants, giving your garden a drink in the heat of the afternoon could do more harm than good.

Gardeners’ World said: “Always water your plants in the cool of the evening or very early in the morning, rather than during the day, when most of the water would evaporate before getting to the plant roots.”

This is crucial to avoid wasting perfectly good water, leaving your plants dried up and unable to grow.

Watering plants in the morning

Early morning is the very best time to give your plants a drink, while the climate is still cool and the sun is still low in the sky.

This allows the water to run deep into the soil, without too much excess water being lost in the heat.

Watering at this time will also make the water available to plants throughout the day, so that they are able to cope as the sun becomes more intense between midday and later in the afternoon.

While some gardeners may be concerned about scorching their plants with early morning watering, Gardening Know How suggests that this is simply a myth.

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Watering plants in the evening

Giving your plants a drink in the early evening is generally safe to do, but you should always wait until the temperature has noticeably dropped.

The heat of the day should have mostly passed, but there should still be enough sun left to dry the plants a bit before night falls.

Watering your plants at this time cuts down on water-loss through evaporation, while allowing the plant to absorb the liquid and enrich its root system.

It is crucial that you water your plants with enough time for the leaves to dry off before nightfall as this could lead to fungus problems.

How to water your garden plants

Watering thoroughly, but less frequently is one of the most effective ways to get water deep down into the root tips of your garden plants.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), restricted plant roots in containers or growing next to a wall or fence post should be watered more frequently.

This is because the roots are extracting water from a smaller volume of soil than if they were growing freely in the border soil.

To water your plants, the RHS recommended:

  • Using a watering can – aim the water at the stem bases beneath the foliage canopy
  • Automated irrigation systems – save time on more demanding areas by using a trickle or drip irrigation system
  • Using seep hoses – these can deliver water accurately to established and row plants

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