Watering at night

MountainMan(7a VA)August 19, 2002

I've read in many books that it's best to water in the early morning rather than at night. Apparently it prevents disease from developing or something, but I just can't get up that early. I've resorted to watering late at night and on night's like tonight with nearly a full moon I can water well after sunset. It seems logical to me that by watering in the evening the moisture has more time to soak into the ground, less water is lost to evaporation, and it gives the wilted plants a chance to absorb some of it before the heat returns. I find it to be a more conservative approach and I've yet to see any disease problems developing. Does anyone else water at night?

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I think the rule about not watering at night applies mostly to the use of overhead applications like sprinklers. Water that is left on the leaves for long periods gives diseases like mildew and molds a chance to develop.

It sounds like you may be watering by hand. If so, try to avoid wetting the leaves and splashing the soil up onto the plants.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2002 at 12:01AM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

I always water at night--and overhead as well. God waters at night--especially in Camelot! Do I have disease issues? Well, the bee balm gets powdery mildew, but bee balm ALWAYS gets powdery mildew down here. (I have afriend with soaker hoses. TERRIBLE PM in her Bee balm!) Of course, bee balm and phlox are the only things I plant that are susceptile (sp?) to mildew--and I don't really plant the phlox. It plants itself! Water at night--it will be fine. If anything gets fungal--yank it out an plant something else next year. melanie

    Bookmark   August 20, 2002 at 10:21AM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Agree with mjsee. Ummm... you think that it only rains during the daytime? Most rain tends to happen in late afternoon and overnight so why should "watering" at night be any different?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2002 at 10:50AM
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I try to water early in the am but most of the time I water late at night. I use a water wand to direct the water right at the stem base and I don't water any leaves. I tried using sprinklers on a timer for early am but I found that most water didn't end up where I wanted it and, therefore, wasteful. I have to water our school garden early am, since the maintenance people lock up at 3 pm daily, otherwise I'd be over there later in the day and more awake. With this intense heat, watering in the am can even be hazardous to plants if the water sits on the leaves even by 10am here!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2002 at 11:06AM
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eduarda(Z10 - Portugal)

I always water at night because this gives a chance to the plants to get humidity for a longer time. I also have to water at night (currently I´m watering at 2am), because that´s just about the only time of the day the water has pressure enough to operate the micro-sprinkler system. I know some plants don´t like wet leaves, but my garden is also a kind of experiment on survival of the fittest, so the plants should be quite content they get water at all!


    Bookmark   August 20, 2002 at 1:55PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I too am not a morning person. I figure that too much water evaporates in the middle of the day, so I try to water in the early evening. However, if the mosquitos get too bad, I usually end up out there around 10:30 am. Of course, now that I'm toting buckets of used laundry water, I water whenever I have clean clothes!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2002 at 3:40PM
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Sometimes I'll ask my husband to water the plants when he gets up, but I usually water at night.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2002 at 3:44PM
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Sherrie_Florida(Z9 FLORIDA)

We have no choice. If we have a sprinkler system and want
to use it ----- our hours are from 4 am till 8 am. There
are water police to be sure that is the way it is done.

The Homeowner association REQUIRES a sprinkler system, so that means I can only water from 4 am till 8am twice a week.

How can you tell when a sprinkler breaks at 4 a.m.????
It has happened here and it took awhile to discover it by
the holes that had been created by the break.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2002 at 6:38PM
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I've always been a devout morning waterer, but this year's drought has had me watering after work until dark (although I often put the porch light on and keep going). I do avoid watering my orchids at night, however, and keep wet foliage to a minimum.

My garden seems to hold the little water it can get this way. I feel like I'm gardening on a small area of sponge--the earth sucks up what I can give it so fast in this drought.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2002 at 9:28AM
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I've always gone by the philosophy that you can't always choose when it rains, so I water at night. There's no way I can water before I leave in the morning, before 7am. I also use soaker hose, so I don't worry about diseases. Besides, it's been so dry here, no mildew or fungal disease could possibly survive.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2002 at 3:04PM
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foxydigitalis(zone 7, PA)

I've been watering at night. Seems to me the plants get more time to soak up the water even though many of the books say plants are more prone to disease when doing this. I'm lucky-we can still water gardens and landscaping from 5PM-9AM. I stopped using the sprinkler-too wasteful. Luckily we got rain last night and the night before! The worst problem I have is that white residue on my zinnias (which breaks my heart cause I love zinneas so much). I've heard to be careful about watering only the roots of zinneas to prevent this and I've also heard not to plant them too closely so they can dry out. Anyone try the zinnea seeds that are mold-resistant?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2002 at 6:45PM
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zerodfx(z7 Queens, NY)

Over at the Integrated Pest Management forum, I've read that watering at night is like an open invitation for slugs to come out and have a dinner party. I've refrained from watering at night for this reason, but the slugs come out anyway...

    Bookmark   August 23, 2002 at 2:13PM
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Residents in certain areas of MD might not have a choice: I heard on the news over the weekend that the Governor will impose "Level 2" water restrictions. One of those restrictions includes not watering gardens during the day--only from 8PM-8AM.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2002 at 12:11PM
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I live in MD, and would hate to see my nighttime watering enforced, since it's not my first choice.

I've noticed that yes, night watering is a huge draw for slugs, but we're so dry, I'm scarcely seeing any slugs this year, even with night watering. I almost feel sorry for them, but if they care to find it, my compost is always open!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2002 at 5:41PM
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I'm in the hot high and dry desert of NM, and watering at night makes more sense to me. Believe me, no fungus stands a chance here! I agree with those who think it gives the plants more time to soak up the moisture.
I also give my leaves a foliar spray once or twice a week and it seems to help keep off whatever spins webs on plants.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2002 at 12:19PM
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We like to water at night and we have several zones set up on the drip water (set to come out of the 2000 gallon cistern) so no problem with fungal infestations here. I am in New Mexico, but is a slightly wetter area than Moonsinger. Late last night we turned the orchard watering zone on. We hopped in the hot tub which also saves water as an alternative to a hot bath for people with arthritis who need a hot soak for the aches and pains. The cistern pump came on a couple times and it was loud. We could see that our new neighbors (their house is closer that I would like, but they are nice people) turned on lights inside the house and we figured the pump woke them up. We shut the water down and put it on again this morning. I prefer to avoid making the neighbors annoyed. I plan to ask them if that was what woke them up. Maybe it was coincidence and we can go back to the night watering schedule.

Fairest of the months! Ripe summer's queen
The hey-day of the year
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen
Sweet August doth appear. -Â Â R. Combe Miller

    Bookmark   August 28, 2002 at 1:19PM
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Dswan(z6 UT)

It's so dry where I live, that water on the leaves dries quickly, even at night. I don't have disease problems except for, you guessed it, powdery mildew on my monardas.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2002 at 11:27AM
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MelissaCO(5 CO)

I hear mixed things about night watering. one person says no the other says yes. It depends on where you live. I live in Co, which is very arid, so we don't have that many problems. But you can get a fungus if your grass is too wet. Like Blight..

IT is best to do it I have heard before it gets dark like around 7 pm or so, so that gives it time to dry out before the dew sets.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2002 at 12:29PM
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Under the PA drought restrictions, we're not supposed to be watering b/4 5 PM. Water between 5 pm and 9 am

My monarda was really yucky with mildew and flopping all over the place, last summer. I thinned it pretty good this spring, and the difference is amazing. Even with all the dryness, they were straight soldiers, and no mildew. :-)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2002 at 6:57PM
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I water at night, usually between midnight and 2:00 a.m. I water by hand with a hose so I can direct the water into the soil and usually avoid wetting the leaves too much. The only problems in my garden this year are from this d*** drought, not a hint of mildew on anything.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2002 at 11:56AM
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In very humid places, with lots of fungal diseases (like FL summer) you try to keep leaves of plants as dry as possible. This means avoiding watering at night. Under drought conditions, fungal diseases are not going to be a problem, and watering in the evening would definitely be a good idea for precisely the reason MountainMan gave -- less evaporation and more time for the plants to take up water before they have to face that sun again.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2002 at 1:03PM
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I've always figured the advice not to water at night came from more humid areas where mildew, especially downy mildew is a problem. Powdery mildew doesn't need but one shot of wet leaves to start growing and this can occur simply from dew. Also urban gardens can be rather.....dense. Too many plants, no air cirulation,walls, poor plant health, too much nitrogen all contribute to disease problems.
I like my sleep too much to water at night, that is after 10 p.m. But you can bet your boots we water from 6-10 p.m. and as early as 4 a.m. Do we have problems? NO. If a plant is a mildew problem, it isn't grown. Many plants are more prone to diseases.....like zinnias (and I love them too) so I just won't grow them.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2002 at 10:34AM
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james_m_clark(6b NJ, Essex)

I've heard the warnings about night watering, but I have a timer, so I set it for about dawn. Every now and then I'm up early enough to see it happen. I can also manually turn it on to check that it's working OK.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 5:20PM
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tinamcg(Z5b Kansas City)

The problem with beginning to water at dawn is that you extend the dew period, and that encourages fungal diseases. It's better to water during the dew period in themiddle of the night, since the plants are moist at that time anyway. In my plant diseases class we were told that 8 hours of moisture on plant foliage is about as much as they can take before the fungal spores begin to multiply, so either water in conjunction with the dew -- or wait until the dew evaporates before watering.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 5:11PM
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sjv78736(austin texas)

well, i will throw my two cents in --

reasons to water early morning include:
1)many plants have a tiny opening on the back of the leaves (forgot the name) to drink (dew) it closes up by mid-morning to prevent dehydration;
2) water on the leaves in cooler night temps/humid climes promotes fungus and mildews, as mentioned here
3)water sprinkles on leaves can cause sunburn in direct sun.

that being said, i generally water at sunset during the hottest months because it seems to conserve the amount of water my plants require and i fear that the evaporation from the wet soil will cause my poor plants to steam-cook in the heat of the day!

Disclaimer: I do not agree with nor endorse the use of "Sponsored Links" embedded in my posts by the owner of this or any other website and would never purchase anything from any advertiser that used this deceptive form of advertising.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 4:59AM
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