Hand Watering Schedule

I live on the West Coast of the US and I have automatic sprinklers that go off every other day at 7 AM. If it’s been a particularly hot day, I notice my plants, paritcularly my garden, is wilted from the heat. I sometimes hand water as soon as I get home (in the middle of the afternoon which is always the hottest part of the day). Other times I wait until evening when it has started to cool off.

My gut tells me that watering just after sunset is probably the best time since there is much less evaporation than watering in the morning or during the day.

Is my gut right? In general is it better to water plants at night than during the day? Or does it really not matter that much?

Everything I’ve read suggests that the best time for your lawn is in the morning, probably even a couple of hours earlier than what you’re doing. Mine’s set for 4:30 am. This way it has enough time to soak in before the heat of the day begins and isn’t sitting there overnight where it can cause fungal problems to develop.

Avoid the ‘daytime’ watering. I’ve even seen people claim leaves can be scorched by water evaporating in intense sunlight but I’ve never seen it.

You want to make sure that the water goes to the plants not to the atmosphere so the cooler the better and I’m guessing that early morning is cooler with you than even late evening. But it also depends on how quickly things heat up. You want to give the water a chance to get down to the roots before the sun gets too intense and the rate of evaporation rises. It would be nice if that same water had a chance to actually get into the leaves before being sucked out again too. My parents, experienced gardeners, aged 73 & 74, water late in the evening (unless they’re having a real heatwave when it’s twice a day) I’m pretty sure that if they thought early morning watering was the solutiuon they would be doing that instead. (Afternoon naps would make up for early mornings :wink: )

Also make sure that the plants get a real good soak not just a token sprinkle - this means a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with watering cans, also think about giving the ground a quick rake to make sure the water doesn’t just sit on top of hard dried out soil.

(I just have pot plants, the earth dries out quicker and I can stick them in a tub of water for emergency de wilting or at least put them in the shade until later but I guess you don’t have that option?)

Question - what type of plants do you have ? If they are imports is it possible that you could start replacing some of them with ‘local’, less thirsty, plants ?

I always water in the early morning.
My great aunt used to say never water in the evening, because you wouldn’t want YOUR feet sitting in the water all night long!

Whatever that is supposed to mean.

Most of my landscaping is drought resistent native California plants. I’m most concerned about my vegetable garden since it gets full sun most of the day and tends to wilt easily.

I will try watering in the early morning since that makes the most sense.


Interesting bit of lexical difference between English dialects. I assume you’re describing what we in the U.S. call “potted plants”. “Pot plants” are something else entirely.