I've been reading that it's best to water at dawn. But what if you oversleep and by the time you wake up, the sun is already high above the garden? Should I water them anyway, or is it better to wait for late afternoon shade and let the plants suffer dry in the hot sun?
I try to water when they are not in direct sunlight, because if you get water on the leaves they can scorch. But, that being said - yes, there are times when there is oversleeping or whatever, and then I have to water before it gets hot. As one as you stick to the base of the plants and try to keep the water off the leaves you should be okay. :)
Adina mama to B 4/06 and E 8/13/12 (on her due date!)
Watering at dawn in also meant to allow the leaves to dry off quickly to prevent fungal growth on the plant--something that is a big deal here in the PNW. Also, morning is not as windy and is less likely to push around water from sprinklers. Some plants are indeed very sensitive to scorching, but I don't seem to have a problem with this, but perhaps I'm just not noticing it? Watering at the base of the plants, if you can, allows you to water at less optimal times of the day.
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"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
You can also water after sunset if you forgot to water in the morning. Plants can usually make it through a day of strong sun.
Also, you can do a quick root watering during the day and then finish after sunset.
But yes, at dawn or before 9AM is best.