Cactus and Succulents forum→Best time of the day to water Cactus and Succulents

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Name: João V.
Lisbon - PT (Zone 10b)
Greetings from Portugal!
Aug 15, 2020 7:39 PM CST
Hey guys!
I usually water my plants around 3-5 AM (yes I have weird sleeping schedules) Blinking
However lately I've been wondering if there is a better time to do this.

Searched online and there are not many references of this to cactus and succulents specifically.

The most I could find was to never water them past 2 PM in the summer and 11 AM during the rest of the year, but with no explanation why (and thus I have no idea if my 5 AM waterings are appropriate Confused ).

Does anyone know anything about this?
Thanks in advance Thank You!
(Sorry for any eventual bad english! ^^")
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
Aug 15, 2020 7:53 PM CST


Our climate is very mild (average high/low for July was 22°C/18°C) but I make a point of watering plants in pots in the morning (like 8am which is early for me). I water them carefully and thoroughly early in the day (done before noon guaranteed), so that by the afternoon they have lost all the extra moisture through gravity, and the first night the soil is on its way to drying out again.

Whether that time is actually better would be subject to experimentation that I have not performed.

I am curious to hear everyone's opinions on this.

My thinking is that given the cooler temps in the night (and >90% humidity most nights here in July) I'd like the container plants not to be sitting in water at that time.

For plants in the ground I have the exact opposite approach, which is to water at twilight and hope that I lose less of my effort to evaporation that way (drainage in the actual soil around the plants being nearly perfect, as it is mostly sand and rock).
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Aug 15, 2020 7:54 PM (+)]
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Name: Steve
Stoke-on-Trent, UK
Region: United Kingdom Irises Lilies Vegetable Grower Frogs and Toads Greenhouse
Region: Europe Bromeliad Garden Procrastinator Miniature Gardening Plant and/or Seed Trader Tropicals
Aug 16, 2020 12:44 AM CST
I think the members who live is very hot climates have mentioned problems watering in the time or day when there are high temperatures. For my part, I have the problem of a generally pretty cold and wet climate which can cause the plants to kind of switch off and not take the water. All my plants are indoors which deals with the temps but not the light.

The soil can stay too wet for too long even in fast draining mixes and clay terracotta pots. I am OK in the summer, i just have to be more careful in the spring / fall . If the forecast is very poor, I only single pass the pots (water till it runs out once) . In the summer when the plants are more active i double or triple pass to ensure more saturation.
So for me its more time the year than day. But in the summer I try to water in the evening to give the plants the best chance to take up the water in the spring fall i try to go for early morning to do the opposite
[Last edited by ketsui73 - Aug 16, 2020 1:01 AM (+)]
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona Enjoys or suffers hot summers Cactus and Succulents Xeriscape Adeniums Hybridizer
Plant Identifier Plant and/or Seed Trader Cat Lover Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Aug 16, 2020 1:16 AM CST
It really depends on how hot it gets.

In the summer I water around sunset, because the sun is so harsh and its get so hot here that if you water during the day very little water actually sticks around to be available for the plants because it evaporates so fast. On top of that especially is smaller dark plastic pots the soil can literally get very close to boiling, most plants do not like that.

Watering when the sun is mostly gone helps reduce evaporation and heating up of pots due to the sun hitting them actually using the water to give a bit of a cooling effect. However, once night time lows get really high - by July we generally do not go below 80F (~27 C) and if we have strong monsoon season in August we often have a few weeks when things do not cool down below 90F (~32 C) - I get more nervous when watering certain plants at sunset.

The problem is that at those temperatures many plants with CAM respiration have issues being wet and hot overnight - the high temperatures inhibit the reversal of their respiration and having water present when that happens is not a good thing - plants can almost literally explode. I have had Aloes turn to mush literally overnight. So if we have strong monsoon (not this year) when the night time lows get really high I may water very early in the morning (are lowest night time T is usually just before sun rise). I have already lost 5 Aloes this year and a couple of Agaves because of this - Once it happens a few times you learn to recognize the specific way things die...

To put these night time Ts in perspective our day time high has been above 110 (~43 C) for the last 37 days or so, we probably been above 105F (~40 C) since the second week of June... So watering time is definitely important here especially in summer.

The rest of the year when things are <100F during the day, I water earlier in the day, but I have not really found it to be that big of a deal if I do water close to sunset.
It is what it is!
Name: Eric
Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Cactus and Succulents Plant and/or Seed Trader
Aug 16, 2020 12:24 PM CST
I live in a very mild climate compared to most. Most of my plants spend the warm months outdoors basking in the sun. I let nature water them. It can rain either night or day. They always seem to do awesome outdoors.

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