Gardening: Expert shares advice for watering outdoor plants

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Watering too little or too often can wreak havoc on the health of plants, but it’s not just the frequency gardeners should pay attention to. Giving your garden a drink at the wrong time of day can be just as bad. The question of when to water plants is a crucial one – whether it’s garden plants, veggies, or the lawn.

While even the least green-thumbed of gardeners knows that plants need water, what can be less appreciated is that the timing of watering is vital in keeping the plants healthy and to avoid wasting water.

The best answer as to when to water plants is to get up early to perform the task.

Samantha Richards of garden gazebo experts Gazeboshop said: “To keep your plants at their healthiest, the best time of day to water your garden is in the morning.”

So why is it important to water your plants in the morning?

Josh Papworth from the oldest manufacturer of watering cans in the world, Haws, explained that this is because the “cooler temperature” in the morning ensures the water will not “evaporate”.

He said: “A morning water means plants have a reserve of water to use throughout the day so that they don’t end up parched.

“The cooler temperature in the morning also means that the water has a chance to get down to the roots, rather than evaporating in the heat of the sun.”

The morning is best for watering garden plants from flowers, shrubs and climbers to vegetable gardens.

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Tom Hilton, director of hydroponic specialists at National Greenhouse explained: “This is because you’re giving the soil the best chance of hydration since the coolness of the morning allows the water to run down to the root system before evaporating.

“A morning watering will also set the plants up for the day with a good bank of moisture beneath the soil to help them thrive during a warm day.”

The demands of work and family can make it impossible to water the garden in the morning though, so if time isn’t available, water in the evening. 

The cooler conditions of the evening ensure less water evaporates. 

The downside of nighttime watering? Damp leaves and soil can provide the conditions for mildew. 

Benjamin Pope, author of What to Grow, Sow and Do said: “The wet conditions can also encourage slugs and snails to be active, hence late afternoon and early evening waterings should have some time to dry before the nocturnal pests arrive.

“It’s worth remembering, if temperatures are due to lower significantly to freezing, then this should be avoided and watering early in the day is better.”

Gardeners have also been urged to avoid watering their plants during the day.

Tom said: “Watering during the sun’s peak or when it’s a lot warmer in the day can speed up the process of evaporation and drying out the soil, so doing it during a cooler period is best.”

But if you were thinking that watering during the day is a no-no because the droplets scorch the leaves, this is a myth. 

Even so, daytime watering still isn’t a good idea for the reasons above.

Be aware that plants in pots and hanging baskets can need watering twice daily when temperatures climb to 29 degrees and over, so water in the morning and the evening.

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