This One Little Thing Could Be Killing All Your Plants

watering plants

There are dozens of factors that influence how well (or poorly) plants will grow, regardless of whether they’re growing in a pot on your windowsill or in the ground out in your garden. Water and sunlight are two of the most important factors, and deciding how much of either your plant needs can be a surprisingly complex process!

Even something as seemingly simple as the timing of your watering can influence how your plants grow. And even those with the greenest of thumbs can kill their precious plants by failing to follow one simple watering rule!

watering plants

The Most Important Rule For Watering Your Plants

The most important rule you can follow with regard to watering is to always water your plants in the morning. This applies to all plants, from house plants to garden bed to potted plants, both inside and outside.

Why do it in the morning? Watering your plants earlier in the day serves multiple purposes. First of all, it supplies them with a stash of water they can use to weather the heat of the day later on.

Morning watering also allows time for the water to soak into the plant’s roots, before stronger and more direct sunshine in the afternoon can cause it to evaporate.

watering plants

And lastly, watering in the morning allows time for the leaves and stems of your plants to dry before nightfall. This is a simple way to prevent many types of plant diseases, because the fungi and bacteria that are responsible for those diseases tend to thrive in wet conditions.

Now that we’re all up to speed on why it’s so important to water our plants in the morning, let’s look more closely at both indoor plants and outdoor plants to get a better understanding of why early watering is so beneficial.

watering plants

The Benefits Of Early Watering For Indoor Plants

Watering indoor plants early in the day is especially important for plants that don’t as much natural sunlight as they’d like. After you water them, there will be several hours of daylight ahead to help dry things out before it gets dark again, ensuring that your plants aren’t waterlogged for too long.

But early watering is also helpful for indoor plants that do get a lot of natural sunlight. After being watered, they need time to soak up that moisture before the mid-day sunshine causes it to evaporate.

watering plants

The Benefits Of Early Watering For Outdoor Plants

Your outdoor gardens, flowerbeds, and other vegetation also love to start their day with a shower! Morning is better for watering outdoor plants for the same reason: it gives the water a chance to evaporate throughout the day so it doesn’t linger overnight and potentially lead to foliar (or leaf-related) diseases.

Annuals and vegetable gardens also benefit from morning waterings due to their shallower roots. Those roots can’t access the moisture that lies deeper within the soil, so watering them in the morning ensures they can soak up a good amount of water without half of it evaporating in the sun.

watering plants

Exceptions To The Early Watering Rule

There are exceptions to every rule, and this one is no different! Here are some exceptions and additional information that you ought to be aware of when it comes to watering your plants:

  • If your plant requires misting (which is common with ferns and air plants), you should spritz them in both the morning and evening.
  • During the hottest part of the summer, you may have to water outdoor potted plants in the morning and evening to make sure they’re getting enough moisture—especially those in small pots! (The smaller the pot, the hotter the soil will get and the more evaporation is likely to occur.)
  • Recently potted or transplanted outdoor plants need extra moisture to help them settle and adjust to their new home. This little bit of TLC can help prevent (or at least reduce) symptoms of transplant shock.
  • Especially with your outdoor plants, it’s important to water slowly and deeply to encourage roots to migrate downward. Shallow watering can promote shallow roots, resulting in weaker, less hardy plants.
  • When in doubt about whether or not to water, check the soil moisture with your finger. If the top two inches of soil or potting mix are dry, you should give your plants a drink, regardless of whether or not they’re showing any other signs of distress.
watering plants

Bonus Tip: Use Mulch!

For outdoor plants, use mulch to keep water in the ground! Layering mulch on top of your soil will help seal in moisture and prevent evaporation. It also helps control weeds because it makes it harder for them to get any sunlight—quite the bonus, indeed! :-)

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • Great Tips! It’s so timely too – I just brought my “Plant People” in (as I call them) yesterday because last night was a pretty solid freeze. Thanks Jillee

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