When to Water Your Garden Plants

Watering your garden should be pretty straightforward, right? Well, not quite.

Watering at the wrong time of the day can render your efforts useless, and overwatering can cause issues such as root rot.

That’s why this guide will explore when and how to water your plants – and why. 

  • How often you should water your plants
  • The best times of day to water
  • How to save water in the garden

So, keep reading as we show you how to help your plants thrive – leaving you with a lush green garden whilst saving a little on water bills… 

Plants need adequate water to survive, thrive and grow, but it’s not always easy to work out when to give them a drink or how much a specific plant needs.

There are a lot of variables to consider, so let’s explore how you should approach watering both indoor and outdoor plants.

How often should I water my plants? 

Let’s start with outdoor plants. In spring when it rains regularly and it’s not overly hot, you may not need to water your plants a lot – sometimes barely once a week.

This is because the climate is ideal for growth, and if they’re in the ground, the water table should be at a good level.

Similarly, outdoor plants usually don’t need watering much in winter as they go dormant or focus on root growth.

Here’s a quick guide:

  • In spring – Water when the ground looks dry, and consider adding a spring fertiliser.
  • In summer – Water well during droughts and heatwaves, at least once or twice a week, and do container plants much more often.
  • In autumn – water as needed, similarly to springtime.
  • In winter – water sparingly and only if it does not rain. You should protect container plants from frost as well.

So, how do you know if your plants need water? Well, it’s pretty easy to tell if they need a drink or not.

You can check the soil moisture by pushing your finger knuckle-deep into the soil near the base of the plant.

If the tip of your finger feels dry, it’s likely time to water. There are also signs to look out for on the plant itself:

  • Dry, curling, dropping, or yellow leaves
  • Producing fewer fruit or flowers
  • Wilting or leaning
  • Pots light in weight or falling over 
  • Crispy or dead tips of leaves
  • Slow or minimal growth 
  • Soil shrinkage in pots

Watering your plants when they don’t need it can drown them, resulting in root rot and a poorly, potentially dying plant.

Instead, allow them to dry out somewhat before watering, as this can help promote healthy, strong roots.

Some are even drought tolerant and prefer drier soils, so do some research if you’re unsure.

Generally speaking, potted plants require more water, especially in the summer months.

This is because plants in containers do not have natural access to the water table, and the pot surface area can heat up and evaporate any existing water quickly.

If in doubt, check the soil.

You can perform the finger test with the soil or get a moisture gauge for your potted plants to help you keep track of their watering needs. 

Now on to house plants.

These should be treated as active all year as they are more acclimated to the conditions in your home.

As such, they will need less watering as it’s milder inside, and there are fewer extremes to consider.

A moisture gauge or the finger test will tell you when they need watering, as will the signs mentioned above, but it can be as long as three weeks between watering.

Their lives are less cyclical, so you will need to monitor these more than outdoor plants and ensure all the pots have adequate drainage. 

When are the best times of day to water?

The best time of day to water your outdoor plants is early in the morning whilst it’s still cool, especially in the summer.

It will give them all the moisture they need to face a day in the sun, preventing them from getting too dry and developing other issues.

If you water during the day when it’s too hot, the water may evaporate before reaching the roots.

Plus, with containers, you run the risk of sitting water heating up and cooking the roots!

You can water your plants early evening as the temperature starts to cool, but don’t leave it too late into the evening as this can lead to wet, soggy leaves which are more likely to catch diseases or get singed.

To avoid issues, water your plants slowly and thoroughly, pay attention to the base and avoid quick surface showers with a watering can. 

For indoor plants, early morning or evening is best as well.

How can I save water in the garden? 

As energy bills soar, water usage has become a concern for those with plant-dense gardens. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make water go further.

Here are a few top tips to help you save water in the garden: 

1. Install an irrigation system. 

Installing an automatic watering system such as sprinklers or hoses is a great option for those with larger gardens or people that are frequently away from home.

They can help to prevent plant death and save water, as they are efficient and only use the water needed. 

2. Get a water butt. 

Water butts capture rainfall which is great for watering the plants.

Some say it’s better than tap water as there is less processing or treatment needed to make it good to use and there is less danger of mineral build-up.

Furthermore, rainwater is completely free.

Water butts are generally inexpensive and can even be purchased second-hand – just remember to give them a good clean at least once a year to prevent bacteria build-up. 

3. Use moisture retainers. 

To help maintain the moisture levels in a plant bed or pot, consider adding moisture-retaining beads, crystals, or granules to the potting medium you choose.

4. Cover the soil. 

To prevent water evaporation and pests (like slugs or snails), you can cover the soil around your plants with gravel, pebbles, bark, or stones. 

Now you know when to water your plants, how often, and how to save water, leaving you time to relax and enjoy your garden for many summers to come. 

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