Is It Bad To Water Plants At Night? (Answered)
A lot of homeowners, especially those with less experience in growing plants, consider watering to be the simplest task when it comes to taking care of the plant.
However, there’s much more to watering than just pouring water from the container and moistening the soil around the plant.
Among other things, you need to know exactly what level of moisture is suitable for a certain plant, what kind of water to use, and how often to do this.
One of the key factors is also the time of day when you should water the plant.
Most of us have rather busy daytime schedules, so a lot of people water their plants at night as that is more convenient.
However, some experts point out that this is not good or healthy for the plant.
So, is it bad to water plants at night or is this a good idea?
Let’s find out together
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Is It Bad To Water Plants At Night?
Even though different plants may have different needs, in general, it’s better to avoid watering your plants at night.
While there are some positive sides to this practice, in most cases, it will do more damage than good and have negative effects on the plant’s health and development.
As there’s less evaporation over the night, the soil may stay wetter than needed and the plant themselves won’t react well to being soaked for a longer period of time.
This can leave your plants particularly vulnerable to various issues that can be more or less damaging.
This is especially true if you live in an area with more humid climate conditions.
Below are the main reasons why you shouldn’t water your plants at night and the explanation of the most common issues it can cause.
When you water your plants from above, leaves will, naturally, get wet, along with flowers and fruits.
If you water the plant during the day, this is not much of an issue.
The sun will help evaporate all the excess moisture. However, watering during the night means that water will remain on leaves and other parts of the plant for an extended period of time.
This will make the plant a perfect environment for the development of bacteria and fungi that will quickly replicate and invade the surface of the leaves.
Needless to say, this will hinder the ability of leaves to function properly and potentially damage the entire plant as the infestation spreads.
This can be a particularly serious problem if the plant is already vulnerable due to other ailments, such as damaged stems, as it will allow pathogens to quickly gain a firm foothold and cause dangerous diseases.
One of the key activities of the plant, essential to its ability to function, is exchanging moisture and gases with the air that surrounds it.
This is not that different from human respiration.
Transpiration happens as tiny pores known as stomata, located in the epidermis of stems, leaves, and other plant organs, open and close to release water vapor and control the gas exchange.
Most of this activity takes place during the daytime, under the sunlight.
This means that, if you water your plant at night, stomata can’t expel any extra moisture kept on plants.
Similar to the issue of wet foliage, this creates favorable conditions for the infiltration of pathogens, such as bacteria and fungi.
These pathogens, as we know, can cause rot and other damage to foliage, flowers, and other plant parts.
The nights without wind are even more dangerous, as the wind helps water evaporate faster.
Watering the plant at night can also contribute to waterlogging of the soil, especially if the soil is too tight and compacted, thus retaining most of the water and preventing it from moving from topsoil deeper into the ground.
If the soil is looser, the water travels and penetrates the ground more easily, which results in better drainage and less water retention.
The type of pot also plays a role here, as different materials a pot is made of have different water-retention properties.
So, night watering, without the sun to help water evaporate, means that there will be some water remaining on the soil surface.
This is harmful to the plant roots because they can suffocate due to excessive moisture and the lack of air.
Once the water concentrates around the plant’s base, it can easily cause the root to rot or promote the development of harmful pathogens.
Night watering can do even more damage if done in cold weather conditions, especially during the winter, although frosty nights during spring, summer, and fall are risky, too.
Low temperatures at night can include an artificial frost which can damage the plant in multiple ways.
As the excess water on the plant’s leaves evaporates much slower during the night, the drop in temperature as the sun sets down can cause it to freeze.
Many plants are very vulnerable to frost and this can lead to significant harm to their leaves, stems, and other parts.
To avoid this, you should make sure that for the indoor plants, the temperature at night doesn’t drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
As you can’t control the weather outside your house, it’s best that, during colder months of the year, you water your outdoor plants only in the morning or even during the day.
Are There Any Positive Sides to Watering Your Plants at Night?
While the general recommendation is to avoid watering your plants at night, it can still have some advantages, under certain circumstances, especially during the summer when the weather is warm.
This can be especially beneficial for more sensitive plants, such as strawberries and tomatoes, and young plants planted in small pots.
Here are some of the pros of night watering.
Recovering from a Heat Wave
Long days with the scorching heat that is common during the summer usually have a significantly negative effect on plants.
They will dry out, their leaves may burn, and most of the water will be distributed from leaves to stems.
As a result, the leaves will become droopy and wilted. Because of this, the plant will enjoy water after a long, hot day. Just like humans.
Watering them at night means that water won’t evaporate that fast, allowing plants, leaves in particular, a chance to make full use of it.
You’re likely to see results in the morning, as your plant will perk up and recover, with leaves looking more healthy and standing upright.
More Time for Water Absorption
If you water the plant in the morning or during the day when the water is hot, the scorching sun will evaporate water rather quickly from the surface of the soil.
Therefore, the plant won’t have enough time to absorb all the water it needs.
Watering it at night will keep the water in the soil longer, providing the plant with more time to drink up all the water necessary to thrive.
More Water for Deep Roots
Slower evaporation during the night also means that the water will have more time and a greater chance to reach the deeper area of the soil and get to the deeper roots of the plant.
The cooler soil will allow water to slowly make its way to lower levels of the soil and invite the plant to send its roots deeper down.
This increases the plant’s stability and improves its ability to absorb nutrients from the soil.
Reducing the Risk of Burning the Leaves
Although it may be counterintuitive, the water on the leaves can cause them to burn.
When you water the plant during the day, especially when doing it from above, some water will remain on the leaves’ surface.
On a hot and sunny day, the leaves are always at risk of burning, which causes the leaves to droop and change their color, hindering their ability to function properly.
This happens because the plant naturally diverts water away from the leaf’s end. The droplets of water reflecting the light increase that risk even further.
Watering your plant after the sun sets, will help the leaves stand back up and the entire plant to liven up and be better prepared for the next hot day.
Learning when is the right time to water your plant will help you keep it happier and healthier.
The idea of watering plants at night has been around for years, and many people do it, mainly out of convenience.
However, if you can manage, in most cases, it’s better to water the plants during the day, in the early morning if possible.
This will help you prevent numerous issues, such as bacteria and fungi infestation, reduced transpiration, or frost.
However, nothing in gardening is black and white, and the answer to the question is it bad to water plants at night is not always clear.
This means that, in rare situations, it may be better for the plant if you water it at night. The most important thing is to get to know your plant and familiarize yourself with its needs.
This will help you get a feel for what’s best for your plant and act accordingly, including determining when is the best time to water it.