How Often Should You Water Your Garden?

Martha watering plants in greenhouse

Fadil Berisha

Flowers are a gorgeous addition to your home garden—but the heat of summer and the baking sun can reduce your beautiful blooms into sad, wilted heaps. Fortunately, keeping your flowers well-hydrated throughout the warm-weather growing season can help stave off some of these issues. Ahead, Kip McConnell, the director of the Southern Living Plant Collection, shares exactly how often you should be watering your garden beds.

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Consider your local climate

Getting a handle on a watering schedule is something McConnell says makes newer gardeners “sweat,” especially as the hot summer months approach. Unfortunately, there’s no single watering cadence to follow: How often your blooms need a blast of water will vary by region and plant type. “The key to knowing how often to water your flower garden is to know your local climate,” McConnell says. “In spring and summer, does your region see frequent rain or is it arid and dry? Does your yard offer the flowers plenty of shade or are they exposed to the sun all day?” McConnell explains that answering these queries will help you establish a baseline understanding of how much water your plants receive and maintain from nature—and how much you’ll need to add.

Create a schedule based on your flowers’ specific needs

In addition to your local climate, the next biggest factor to consider is how much water your individual plants need. According to McConnell, it’s important to understand whether you’re working with plants like drought-tolerant agapanthus or moist soil-loving impatiens, since some flowers will thrive with less water than others. Take your varieties’ moisture preferences into consideration when setting up your watering schedule.

Make sure your garden gets watered weekly

If you’re not sure about your flower garden’s exact watering needs—or you simply want to keep your routine as streamlined as possible—McConnell says to add an average of one inch of water to your beds per week. You can hit that number by watering about a half-inch twice weekly; keep rainy days in mind while you’re calculating your totals. If the week is hotter than you anticipated, more water might be necessary. “On especially hot and sunny days, the plants appreciate a refreshing drink of water, just like you do! If the soil gets too dry, the plant is already dehydrated, and you need to quickly water to ensure the soil is moist and well-drained,” McConnell shares. “Similarly, when it’s raining more than usual, you can ease up on watering for a few days.”

Remember that newer plants need more water

If you have very young plants or freshly planted flowers, McConnell notes that they’ll require a little bit more care as they establish their root system. While mature plants can get by for longer stretches without being watered, you need to avoid dehydrating any of the newbies.

Always water your garden in the morning

The morning is the best time to hydrate your garden, explains McConnell, since the water has time to absorb before sun rises (allowing plants to retain more moisture). “It also gives the leaves time to dry. If the morning is not feasible, watering in the evening is also great,” he says, noting that morning is still the best option; if you tackle this task at night, water will rest in the soil around the roots and on the leaves, which could lead to rot or fungal growth. As for when not to add water? Avoid a midday cadence. “The afternoon sun gets hot (especially in summer!) and can evaporate the plant’s water instead of letting it absorb into the soil and roots,” says McConnell.