Is it better to water plants in the morning or at night? Experts reveal which option is best for happy, healthy, and hydrated plants this summer

There’s a clear winner

Cottage garden with mixed border planting and ground cover plants
(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

The sun is shining, the tank is clean, and your plants are thirsty. And while it’s important to keep your plants watered during the summer (and even more so during a heatwave), one thing you might question is whether it’s better to water your plants in the morning or at night.

By this point, we all know that one of the biggest garden watering mistakes you can make is watering your plants during the height of the midday sun. This can lead to scorching and burning, and most of the time, the water will simply evaporate before the plants in your container garden or garden borders have had the chance to utilise that sweet, sweet H2O.

To combat this, most gardeners water their gardens either in the morning or the night - but have you ever wondered if one is better than the other? Well, we have, which is why we’ve reached out to garden experts to answer the question: Is it better to water plants in the morning or at night?

A vegetable garden border with a watering can

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Is it better to water plants in the morning or at night?

It’s important to understand how often to water your garden in hot weather, but it turns out that knowing the correct time to water your plants can also have a huge impact on your plants. And watering your garden at night doesn’t always work in your garden’s favour.

John Clifford, a garden expert at Gardenstone explains, ‘I would recommend watering your plants in the morning, rather than at night, especially in the summer.’

‘This is because if you water them in the morning, you're allowing the water to properly soak into the soil before the heat comes and causes it to evaporate. Similarly, it means that the plants have access to this water while it's hot. This is important because it helps them cope with the stress of the hot sun, and without it, it could lead to wilting in the heat.’

Of course, keeping your garden cool during a heatwave is paramount, and part and parcel of that is keeping your plants hydrated. So, watering them in the morning allows them to absorb and use the water you’re giving them.

But that’s not the only reason why it’s better to water your plants in the morning. By doing this, you also avoid overwatering your plants in the summer - which is surprisingly easy to do - and prevent all of the problems that come with overwatering.

John adds, ‘You actually also reduce the risk of fungal disease if you water in the morning instead of at night. This is because watering in the morning allows the leaves to be able to dry fully, reducing the risk of fungal diseases that thrive in moist, dark conditions when plants are left wet overnight.’

A lush green garden, made up of hedged borders, paving and moss at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

(Image credit: Heather Young/Future Publishing Ltd)

This is also helpful if you want to get rid of slugs and stop snails from eating your plants, as these slimy invaders thrive at nighttime and are drawn towards damp plants and crops. So, by watering in the morning rather than at night, you can keep garden pests at bay.

This is echoed by Morris Hankinson, Director of Hopes Grove Nurseries, who says, 'This year, slugs and snails have been especially busy in the garden after a wet spring and rainy early summer, providing them with their ideal environment.'

'They tend to like moisture and also more likely to be munching on your plants at night time so avoiding watering in the evening may go someway to helping any slug and snail damage to plants.'

Slatted fence with plant pots and watering can hanging from it

(Image credit: Future PLC)

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t water your plants at night at all. If you notice that your plants look particularly dry or limp, giving them a little top-up wouldn’t go amiss. This will give them a little boost overnight and allow them to replenish their water stores before you water in the morning.

Just make sure that you keep this nighttime watering session to a minimum and only give them a little drink rather than a giant gulp.

Morris also advises, 'Try to water into the soil around the base of the plants rather than over the top. This helps more water reach the roots of the plants where it’s needed and can prevent some pests and diseases from spreading.'

In some cases, you may even have to double up and water your plants in the morning and at night - especially if you have a south-facing garden like me. In fact, my garden is so hot at the moment that my tomato plants require a double dose in the morning and the evening!

But if you don’t want to go out into the garden with a watering can every morning (or you’re not a morning person at all), there are ways to water your garden in the morning without the extra hassle. You could even utilise smart watering to set timers and water your garden while you’re still sleeping.

John Clifford
John Clifford

John Clifford is a director of Gardenstone, a leading garden landscaping retailer based in the UK. With over 30 years in the gardening industry and continual work alongside The National Trust, John has amassed an extensive range of gardening and planting knowledge. Alongside his younger son, John has built a strong reputation for Gardenstone as a trusted source for both high-quality garden products and expert gardening advice. 

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants. He established the thriving business in 1992, shortly after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex.

What you'll need


How to tell if a plant needs water?

There are a few different signs that your plant needs water. Firstly, if it looks as though the leaves are wilted and crispy, this is a sure sign that your plant needs watering.

Another way to check is to stick your finger in the soil (down to your knuckle, ideally). If the soil looks dry on top but your finger feels damp, you can wait a little longer to water it. However, if the soil is dry and loose all the way down, it needs water.

If you’re wondering whether a container plant needs water, you may be able to tell by simply lifting the pot. If it feels extremely light, it needs water. And if it keeps falling or blowing over, this is another sign that it needs some hydration.

Should you water plants every night in summer?

Ultimately, this all depends on the individual plant and where it’s located. Plants in the shade may not need watering every night in the summer as there’s less chance of the water evaporating. However, plants in direct sunlight may indeed need watering every now.

Because of this, it’s best to inspect the plants in your garden every evening and decide there and then whether they need watering. You can do this by visibly looking at them and also checking the soil around them.

So, there you have it. Now you know whether it’s better to water plants in the morning or at night.

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.