photo of woman watering her plants with softened water

Gardening is a popular pastime for a reason. It’s calming and rewarding, and more often than not, the result is beautiful. Some of us don’t have time for a full garden and instead prefer to keep a few beautiful plants in the house to help us breathe easier and enjoy a piece of nature’s infinite beauty. To keep our gardens and house plants alive and looking healthy, they need clean, high-quality water just like we do to survive.

 

By now, you likely know that lots of sneaky contaminants lurk in our water, making it less than ideal for drinking straight from the tap. A water filtration system can remove extra pollutants from your tap water and turn your hard water soft. But while soft water is safe for you to drink, is softened water safe for your plants?

 

 

What is Softened Water?

To understand whether softened water is safe for your plants, it’s essential to know what makes water hard or soft, to begin with. Hard water is typically water heavy with iron, calcium, and magnesium. Often, water gets filtered by city water plants or wells. As they make their way to your faucet, they pick up contaminants, resulting from things like aging pipes or sediment. In contrast, soft water is generally achieved with a water softener installed by a company to purify your water and through a process using sodium. This sometimes leaves your water high in sodium, but it is always free of minerals like chalk, lime, magnesium, iron, and chlorine.

 

Hardened water is notoriously pesky, not just for its presence in drinking water but also for its less than desirable effects on our household chores. Hard water causes long-term wear on our appliances, leaves clothes feeling rough, and water spots on our glasses and dishes. Bathing with hard water can also affect the feel and health of our hair and cause skin issues for those with sensitive skin. For these and many other reasons, people who live in areas with hard water typically look for ways to soften their water. The best way to tell whether your water is hard or soft is with a water test, like the free water consultation offered by The Science of Water. You also check this country map for a rough estimation of the water in your area.

 

 

How Does Softened Water Effect Your Plants?

While softened water may be ideal for your appliances and your health, it doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your plants. Science points to soft water being quite bad for your plants in the long term. The effects vary depending on whether you are using the water for your garden or house plants, so let’s start there.

 

House plants don’t have the benefit of receiving the natural rainwater from outside as your garden does. Because rainwater contains natural minerals necessary for plant growth, your garden can withstand occasional softened water exposure. Still, your house plants get none of these added benefits, just the water from your faucet.

 

Softened water may contain higher amounts of sodium and has also been stripped of many additional minerals. Long-term use of softened water in your garden can cause adverse effects, but it will likely kill your houseplants entirely. Gardens can leech those needed minerals from the soil around them. A house plant cannot do this.

 

Depending on the type of soil in your plants, the sodium present in soft water will eventually build up and become toxic. If you live in an area with clay soil, this will happen much quicker. So, if you have softener water in your home, you need to keep them healthy in the long term.

 

 

How Do I Protect My Plants from Softened Water?

We’ve already established that occasional watering of your garden with soft water won’t cause too much damage. But if you can’t use tap water to water your house plants, what do you use?

 

The more straightforward solution is to collect rainwater outside and use that to water your plants. It’s as easy as placing a barrel or garbage can outside, at the end of a downspout. Once collected, you can store it to provide fresh water for your indoor plants.

 

Another easy option is to use potassium chloride pellets instead of sodium pellets. Potassium is a natural plant nutrient and won’t affect the soil. If you want to use softened water on your plants, you can talk to your water filtration installer and see if they offer an alternative. As a last alternative, when watering your lawn, look for the bypass valve. Most water softeners have a bypass valve installed, which allows you to choose untreated water to water your lawn without it temporarily.

 

A final note on watering your plants. While softened water is not ideal for your plants, this doesn’t mean all hard water is healthy for them either. Depending on the composition of your hard water, your plants could still have adverse effects, notably from the chlorine. Many plants cannot handle chlorinated water, a common chemical found in hard water. If you have high chlorine levels in your water, you can bypass this issue by allowing the water to sit out in your watering can, for example, for a few days to slowly dechlorinate.

 

 

The Science of Water

Water is such a vital resource that we sometimes underestimate it. As you can see, your water quality is almost as important as having the water itself. We have different water needs depending on our bodies, our location, and our favorite daily activities.

 

At the Science of Water, we can provide you with a free water test to determine your individual needs and suggest a tailored solution that fits all your needs perfectly. If you want to experience clean, contaminant-free water flowing from your tap, we may have just what you are looking for.

 

If you’re interested in taking one of our free water tests or learning more about our services, contact us at (352) 745-7070 or (904) 580-0000.

 

 

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