The best time to water plants for every hopeful green thumb

When is the best time to water plants? Whether you're a plant pro or a leaf learner, here's what you need to know

best time to water plants - portrait of Young woman watering house plants with a watering can
(Image credit: Getty)

Being a good plant parent can be a challenge, especially if you have a record of forgetting to water your plants in the past. If we're honest, many of us do! That is partly because many of us lack basic knowledge of when's the best time to water plants and how to water different plant types. Wilting doesn't always mean your plant needs watering. In fact, you might be overwatering your plant. Talk about killing with kindness!

Sometimes, the reason you forget to water your plants is that it has always been an afterthought and not part of your daily, weekly, or monthly routine. Fortunately, we have you covered. With our tips and tricks on watering indoor and outdoor plants, as well as seasonal considerations, you'll be well on your way to being a good plant parent in no time. Spruce up your front yard or home office space after you shop for the best desk chairs and create a peaceful, inspiring atmosphere in which to work and live. 

  • Healthy home: 7 tips to make your house healthier, including greenery

When is the best time to water plants?

Indoor plants

woman watering potted plants inside

(Image credit: Getty)

It's important to note that plants require individualized care based on their type. Depending on the plant you're watering, it can thrive better in drier soil or need constant moisture.

When starting your green thumb journey, the key is to find a plant that best suits you and your everyday routine. For instance, a low-maintenance and low-watering plant would work if you're likely to be busy or on an irregular schedule most of the week.

In these cases, consider some of these plants that don't mind a little neglect now and then:

  • Snake plant: The general consensus is to water from two to six or two to eight weeks, but variations depend on conditions like your home's environment and soil type. Snake plants are a safe choice for you if you're away from home often! 
  • Orchids: Watering once a week is sufficient, but experts suggest twice a week in warmer weather.  
  • Red aglaonema: Recommended watering is every five to seven or seven to nine days, depending on environmental factors. 
  • Succulents: Perfect for beginners, succulents can thrive off of a good watering every 14 to 21 days. They're great for busybodies and travelers!  

When you're ready to take on plants that require more love and care, consider: 

  • Elephant ears: Check the soil daily to see if it needs watering. Elephant ears require moist soil but avoid over-watering or a "crying" plant (when your plant starts “weeping” or dripping water from the tip of the leaf). This sign means you're a heavy-handed waterer.  
  • Daylilies: An indoor and outdoor plant, daylilies require a lot of water. Since potters dry out faster than an in-ground garden, it's recommended to water daylilies as often as once a day in the summer months. 

Outdoor gardening

Portrait of woman potting purple flowers outside

(Image credit: Getty)

Depending on your outdoor gardening plans and neighborhood climate, this step can take a considerable amount of commitment and dedication. However, there are many reasons to take on the challenge if you can. Gardening is a great skill to have and pass along to others. Plus, Healthline says it can also fight diseases, build strength, boost mood, reduce stress, help addiction recovery, foster human connection, and combat eco-anxiety.

Watering an outdoor garden early in the morning, between 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., protects from plant fungal diseases and allows the water to soak in the soil before evaporation. If it's not possible to water early in the morning, try watering in the late afternoon or evening. However, be careful to allow time for leaves to dry before night—if you don't, it can cause powdery mildew or sooty mold that can damage your garden.  

 Seasonal watering tips 

Watering seasonal plants may seem obvious at first. Most assumptions would be when they are in season, but it gets slightly more specific than that, depending on which season a plant belongs. General advice says to water your flowers between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., but there are a few exceptions. Here's the breakdown:

1. Winter
In winter, you'll want to wait a little longer in the day, but not too late. According to Hecker Nursery, "where possible, refrain from watering before 9 a.m. and no later than 3 p.m." It's also best to adjust your watering cadence according to the weather. Cooler weather means plants lose less water. Be careful with how frequently you water and resist the temptation to do it too often. 

2. Spring through fall
In spring, summer, and fall, the weather is drier, so for new plants, you'll want to water every day or at least every other day. Otherwise, stick to a couple of days a week or as needed. Aim for a window between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. to give your plants time to soak up the water before the day heats up. Look out for signs of wilting, water loss, and dry soil if you notice extreme heat conditions. If your mornings are booked, as they tend to be for most people, many gardeners consider between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to be the next best watering time. m

Watering techniques you should consider

Save Happy young woman holding a plant in a small gardening shop

(Image credit: Getty)

Knowing the best time to water your plants is essential, but if you're watering them wrong, it may not matter. Here are some general, easy-to-remember watering tips:

  • Water thoroughly, not frequently.
  • Water the soil, not the leaves. It can cause wilting.
  • Morning watering is ideal to avoid evaporation and fungal diseases. 
  • Potted plants should have holes for drainage to avoid waterlogging. 

If you have the time and patience, tending to a few plants or an entire garden can be the most rewarding and satisfying decision you make. With the basics of how and when to water plants, the possibilities are limitless. The hardest part is getting started, but before you know it, you'll enjoy your new green thumb and the warmth that plants and flowers bring into any home.