When Should Outdoor Plants Be Watered

Compared to their in-ground counterparts, potted plants typically dry out more quickly. The pot’s design and narrow soil area result in an extremely low moisture storage capacity. The best times to water your containers are typically in the early morning or early evening. This will give the plant enough time to absorb the water before the heat of the day sets in, but it will also allow any extra water to drain rapidly so that the plant is not susceptible to fungus.

When the earth is completely dry to the bottom, it is also definitely time to water, but the plant might be too late by then. Look for dropping petals, feeble stems, shriveled leaves, and leaves that are dry and discolored. Potted plants should be checked every day in warm, dry environments. Usually, it’s a good sign that watering is required when the top inch (2.5 cm) or so of soil is dry.

Most types of outdoor potted plants require daily (and sometimes twice-daily) watering in the summer, especially when temperatures rise above 85 degrees F. (29 C.).

DO hydrate plants in the morning.

The optimum time to water outdoor plants such as flowers and vegetables is before it gets too hot since the soil is cooler and the water has a better chance of getting to the roots before evaporating. By watering plants early, you may make sure they have enough moisture stored below to withstand the heat of a hot summer day.

DON’T water too frequently or too little.

It may be tempting to water the soil only slightly and infrequently enough to keep it moist, especially during hot weather. Deep root development is nonetheless discouraged by superficial surface watering. Choose a less frequent watering schedule instead, making sure the soil is completely saturated. With this technique, even when the soil’s surface appears dry, the roots are encouraged to go deep for any remaining moisture. Give your flowers and veggies the equivalent of at least 1 inch of water per week, according to the general rule of thumb (and as much as double that amount in the peak of summer).

DO water plants at soil level.

Your plants’ roots will receive the moisture they require by receiving water when it is directed at their base. In order to slowly and thoroughly soak the soil and promote healthy growth, think about wrapping a soaker hose between the plants in a flower or vegetable bed.

DON’T use broadcast sprinklers.

Broadcast sprinklers are ineffective and saturate the plant’s leaves, which increases the danger of a fungal disease. When it’s hot or windy outside, a large portion of the water sprayed by this kind of sprinkler can evaporate before it even touches the plant, which results in less water reaching the plant’s roots.

DO water outdoor container plants at least once per day.

Compared to dirt on a garden plot or flower bed, earth in container gardens and flowerpots dries out more quickly. You must water more regularly as the container gets smaller. Soak the soil in the pots in the morning, and if the temperature rises to 90 or higher, do it again in the afternoon. Alternately, place an automatic plant waterer that attaches to a regular plastic water bottle and has a hollow spike. Water slowly seeps into the soil when the spike is inserted into the pot, providing the plant with a regular supply of water.

DON’T forget that trees need water, too.

For the first month after planting, freshly planted trees and shrubs should receive two or three thorough waterings per week. After then, give them a weekly drink for the rest of their first growing season. During the growing season, when rain is rare, established trees and shrubs (those are at least two years old) only need to be watered once every two weeks.

DO use a wand to water container plants.

A watering wand extends your arm’s length so you can water short, ground-level flowerpots on the ground and hanging plants overhead without having to bend over or squat. By merely applying the necessary amount of water to the plant’s base, you’ll save water and save your back.

DON’T water container plants with a jet-type spray nozzle.

While pressurized nozzles are fantastic for cleaning out sidewalks and driveways, the spray they produce can harm delicate plants like flowers and leaves. Additionally, it may disturb the soil near a container plant’s roots. If you don’t have a watering can, simply unhook the garden hose’s nozzle, connect it onto the hanging pot or container, and allow the water to trickle out slowly.

DO check moisture levels

Dry soil can be detrimental to garden plants. On the other hand, they dislike “wet feet,” which means they suffer if their roots are submerged in water without enough oxygen. It’s important to quickly examine the soil to make sure you don’t overwater because on a hot, windy day the soil’s surface may seem dry but the ground beneath may still be wet. Keep a wooden dowel on hand, place it in the soil of the garden, pull it out, and inspect it. If the dowel comes out clean, the soil is dry and needs watering. Moist soil will stick to the dowel.

DON’T Rely on Rain

Although they may require more during hot, dry times, most garden plants, flowers, and shrubs thrive when they receive at least 1 inch of water per week. Don’t rely on rain to maintain the health of your plants because it doesn’t always provide enough water for them to grow. Instead, install a basic rain gauge in the garden and use it to keep track of how much rain falls each week. Water the garden extra if it only receives one inch of rain.

When should I water my outdoor plants?

The time of day, temperature, the soil, and the age of the plants are crucial elements in determining when and how often your plants need water, even if different Southern Living Plant Collection kinds have varying requirements.

The best time to water plants is in the morning or evening.

Watering the plant in the morning gets it ready for the day, and watering it in the evening gets it cool. More significantly, watering during these times actually aids in water retention for the plant. When you water a plant in the afternoon, especially in the summer, the water will evaporate rather than soak into the soil and roots of the plant because the sun and heat are at their strongest. As the plant has time to dry before the sun sets, morning watering is actually preferable to evening watering. Water tends to rest in the soil, around the roots, and on the foliage at night, which promotes insect proliferation, rot, and fungal growth.

Heat and dry soil are always indicators that a plant needs more water

Your plants are baking with you when it’s hot outside and the sun is out. Your plants agree that there is nothing better than a pleasant drink of water. The plant is already dehydrated if the soil is dry, so you should water it more frequently to promote healthy growth. The soil should ideally be both moist and well-drained.

A plant’s age also helps you know when to water

“Age” refers to both the length of the plant’s life and the amount of time it has lived in your yard. The young and newly planted plants require more water to develop a strong root system. In order to encourage root strength and expansion, shallow and delicate roots need greater water. Mature plants require more water all at once so that their established roots can flourish deep in the ground. They want less water more frequently.

It can be challenging to determine when to water because there are so many different kinds of plants, but look out for the warning signals. Your plant may be receiving too little or too much water if you notice a general decline in its health, yellowing or browning foliage, unblooming flowers, or falling petals. Most importantly, keep in mind to set aside a little additional time in the morning for thorough watering—your day can end up being healthier as a result!

How often a week should you water plants outside?

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, the majority of vegetables and flowers produced in soil require the equivalent of 1 inch of rain every week. When Mother Nature doesn’t provide us enough rain, we need to water our plants more frequently. Once or twice a week, give plants that are growing in soil plenty of deep water to soak the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Normally, once a week of watering is sufficient, but in hot and dry weather, or when the plant is rapidly growing or fruiting, they can need more regular watering.

Check All Plants Weekly

For the first two weeks, check newly planted trees and bushes every few days. Checking annuals and perennials more frequently is advised. Check after those two weeks every seven to ten days. With your fingertips, delve around the root zone to a depth of 2-3 for small plants and 6-8 for larger ones and trees; if the soil feels dry, irrigate liberally.

Provide Slow, Deep Watering

Deeper watering is another suggestion to assist you in properly watering new plants. The roots of your plants will benefit more from deeper irrigation than from shallow ground surface watering. Set up a heavy trickle with the hose at the plant’s base. If you’re not sure how long to water young plants for, aim for 30 to 60 seconds for little plants and longer for larger plants while moving the hose to a few different spots all around the plant.

When the soil seems damp, avoid watering. Between waterings, the earth needs to dry out. A plant’s health will eventually decline if it is kept in perpetually damp soil. Overwatering can weaken a plant, causing it to succumb to oxygen deprivation or become vulnerable to pests and disease. You can offer your plants with a gentle, in-depth soaking that is close to the roots with lawn irrigation systems.

Adjust Watering as Plants Mature

Your watering procedures might need to change as your landscape ages.

  • If it doesn’t rain during the first two weeks after planting, you should water your plants every day. However, after about a month, you should only water your plants about 2-3 times each week.
  • Reduce your water consumption in the coming months. As was previously stated, when you water your plants, concentrate on getting the water deeper into the soil. Established plants and trees need to gradually form deep roots, just as newly planted examples. The trees may be able to weather summertime droughts thanks to these deep systems.

Even though you water less regularly, a deep watering gives the roots ample water without leading to overwatering problems like stunted growth or yellowing foliage.

Water Early in the Morning

Early in the morning is typically the best time to adequately water both newly planted plants and more established plants. Watering in the morning gives your plants the best chance to absorb all of the water you give them. The temperature is noticeably hotter during other times of the day. Water may evaporate if you water during these hours. When the summertime temperatures are sweltering, watering in the morning is very crucial. When compared to other seasons, the likelihood of water evaporating is higher.

A sprinkler irrigation system can be programmed to turn on at any time of day. Therefore, plan your irrigation system timers accordingly if you want to water your plants consistently in the morning.

Monitor Water Requirements Frequently

More significant than frequent watering is regular monitoring of water needs. For the first two to three years, at the very least, keep an eye on your plants’ water needs. Plants under roof eaves and plantings close to structures where heat may reflect call for closer observation. Don’t pay attention to natural rain throughout the scorching summer and early fall. Rainfall during these times frequently results in primarily runoff and little increase in ground moisture.

Watering the plants in the morning:

  • Always water your garden’s plants in the morning to promote their natural growth cycle.
  • Plants are ready to absorb a lot of water at this time of day, and being well-hydrated helps them last the entire day.
  • Watering the garden early in the morning will help the water penetrate the soil deeply.

Watering the plants in the (late) afternoon:

  • It’s never a good idea to water during the day, especially in the afternoon when the sun is at its highest point and the sky is clear. Plant growth will be negatively impacted by watering during the heat of the day. Learn about watering succulents.
  • Water your plants in the late afternoon, when the sun is not at its strongest, if you decide to water them later in the day. This will aid plants in absorbing water before dusk without affecting their growth in any manner. Water evaporation is prevented by watering at this time.
  • You may always water your plants in the evening during the summer. In the Indian summer, especially in the months of April and May, many container-grown, sun-loving vegetables and outdoor potted flowering plants require twice-daily (morning and evening) watering. Consider using self-watering containers.

Remember to let the leaves dry before the night falls since moist leaves are a fungus’s open door. Learn about home cures for fungus.

Can you overwater plants outside?

Yes. Soils can quickly become soggy when you water your plants too much (or if the soil is inadequately drained). For roots seeking to survive, this is a challenge because they risk suffocating and dying because they can’t get the oxygen they require. Root damage will increase if the oxygen supply is shut off for longer periods of time. The plants cannot receive the nutrients and water they require from dying, decaying roots.

Plants stressed or harmed by overwatering can also become vulnerable to illness and attract pests in addition to receiving insufficient oxygen. Root rot, for instance, can be brought on by Phytophthora spp. in frequently wet soils.

Should you water your garden daily?

How much water actually do you need? What time of day should you water your vegetables? Check out the Almanac’s Guide to Watering Vegetables for a very helpful chart outlining how much water each vegetable requires as well as when it is most important to water.

Some experts contend that when it comes to watering your vegetable crops, less is frequently more. Watering too much is a common error beginning gardeners make in areas without drought.

The soil must come first because it must hold onto the water before we can discuss the water itself. Plant health begins with nutritious soil. You are well on your way to having healthy soil if you enrich your soil with organic materials (like compost). One-quarter inch of compost per season applied on a regular basis will significantly increase your soil’s capacity to retain water and fight disease. See our articles on soil types, soil analysis, and the fundamentals of adding organic and NPK fertilizers to your soil.

When to Water

The basic guideline is that plants require one inch of water per week if they are in the ground as opposed to a pot. This DOES NOT, however, imply weekly watering. That typically doesn’t work. Taking into account the rain, plants benefit from being watered roughly three times per week. Water the plants twice daily until they are established, if they are seedlings.

Don’t just spout water, though. Feel the ground! The dirt is sufficiently moist when it adheres to your hand and can be formed into a ball. It is time to water if, however, it barely holds together in your palm or if the surface appears hard, baked, or cracked. Check to see if the soil is dry an inch below the surface; if it is, water may be needed.

To ensure that the foliage dries out by evening, it is better to water early in the day while dew is still on the leaves. If you are unable to water in the morning, watering in the evening is also OK. Simply avoid the midday to prevent water loss due to evaporation.

Unbelievably, there are occasions when it is ideal to water during or right after a rainstorm, particularly if it only produces around a half-inch of water. This is necessary because you want to pour enough water at once to ensure penetration down to 5 or 6 inches. If you wait one or two more days to water, you will just be adding surface water, which quickly evaporates. Light rain showers do not cause the land to accumulate a water reserve.

Lose Your Guilt About Wilt

Another indication is when the plants start to wilt and become noticeably droopy. However, momentary wilting in the midday sun does not indicate that it is necessary to water. Some plants experience a clear noon slump, especially on extremely hot days, which is a sign of the plant’s innate sensitivity to its surroundings. In the early evening, check your garden to determine if the wilting plants have recovered some turgidity. Do not drink if they appear more perky, indicating that they have returned.

How to Measure One Inch of Water

What then is “weekly rainfall of just one inch? First, a layer of water that is one inch deep and covers the entire soil surface that has to be watered is referred to as an inch of water.

You can either invest in a cheap rain gauge or use this do-it-yourself approach to gauge one inch of water: Place four or five small, straight-sided containers around the garden to catch rainwater. Use a tuna can as your container. On the can, make a mark 1 inch up from the bottom. One inch of water was applied to the garden when one inch of rainwater or irrigation water collected in the containers.

once more, don’t rely just on the “a one-inch threshold. Your garden likely needs watering if the soil is dry an inch below the surface. Additionally, we find it useful to remember the watering formula shown below: Inches of water equal 0.62 gallons per square foot.

How to Water

Deep root penetration is what you want in a healthy plant, and the only way to get deep roots is if there is water deep underground.

Commence at the beginning: When you transfer seedlings, fill each plant hole to the brim. When you water, be sure the soil is sufficiently wet so that the moisture percolates at least a few inches into the ground.

If you can, irrigate at the soil level; watering from above leads to leaf disease. The drawback of utilizing a sprinkler is that vegetation gets drenched by water applied from above. Since the foliage is kept damp for a long time, this could result in foliar infections.

  • Use a watering can, a watering wand, or a hose with a suitable nozzle that allows you to water exactly at the soil’s surface close to the plant if you have a tiny garden.
  • Lay your hose on the ground right next to the plant if you have larger or more densely planted areas so the water will fall where it is needed. The soil won’t be eroded by the water if a board or rock is positioned beneath the flow. Digging a little trench around the plants and letting the water flow into it is a wonderful technique to direct the water to the plants.
  • Consider purchasing “drip irrigation” if you have a bigger garden with plants spaced one foot or more apart. In order to give a relatively small amount of water directly to the root zone, this is primarily done via hoses or plastic tubes with tiny pores. By providing the ideal moisture, periods of water stress can be avoided. Water slowly trickles out of the hoses or tubes that are positioned down the rows.

Don’t Forget to Mulch!

The best way to conserve water in locations with less than 40 inches of yearly rainfall is probably to use mulch. Organic mulches decrease transpiration water losses as well as evaporative moisture losses from the soil’s surface because they keep the soil at a cooler temperature. Mulch should be spread out over the soil in a thick layer. (Avoid mixing with soil.) Replace any mulch that has been used over the entire growing season.