Ask a Question forum→What water source do you use for houseplants?

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Name: Abby B.
Michigan (Zone 5b)
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Abby_B
Nov 12, 2019 9:08 PM CST
Hello plant lovers,

I'm interested in opinions about your particular water preference for your house plants ( ex. tap water, distilled water, etc). Which plants have you found are most sensitive to the source of water used & what plants are more tolerant / not affected by particular water type?

I have been watering my indoor plants with water collected from (recent model) home dehumidifiers. I started doing this when I read that tap water might contribute to leaf browning in some plants such as dracaenas. This has worked well but since my plant collection (a variety of types) has grown recently I suspect I will run out of this saved water before the dehumidifiers run again next summer. If I run out, I could use house tap water (which for me is lightly softened municipal water), I could purchase distilled water, or maybe some plants would be fine with tap water (?)

Thanks for your opinions!
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Hamwild
Nov 12, 2019 9:19 PM CST
I just use tap water. I've read it's more soft than hard (our county water that is), but after almost three years here, I haven't experienced any issues with any of my houseplants.
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Nov 12, 2019 9:28 PM CST
Use RO on my indoor plants.
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Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
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oneeyeluke
Nov 13, 2019 2:28 AM CST
Since you are collector of plants and asking such an important question about water. The best way to learn about using different waters is to purchase yourself a TDS meter. That way you can check your water from the different sources. I check my water every time I water my plants. Top photo is RO,---Center photo is Tap-- Bottom photo is distilled out of the bottle. You can see a difference the 3 waters and are measured in ppm Parts Per Million. Rainwater usually runs between 17 to 40 ppm. .

Thumb of 2019-11-13/oneeyeluke/e9b5e5


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NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
[Last edited by oneeyeluke - Nov 13, 2019 2:56 AM (+)]
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Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
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oneeyeluke
Nov 13, 2019 2:30 AM CST
I use RO and Rain only with the exception of distilled water to calibrate my pH meters. I supplement the RO and rain with Cal-mag with about 60 ppm when using soil-less potting soil like Pro -Mix. When using a so-called organic potting mix I use only plain rain without cal mag. .
NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
[Last edited by oneeyeluke - Nov 13, 2019 2:40 AM (+)]
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Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
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oneeyeluke
Nov 13, 2019 3:44 AM CST
If you notice the middle reading is 427 ppm from city tap water and who knows what the ppm are. When the ppm are high like this for extended periods of time, "the soil can become too heavy in ppm" for healthy growth. When using clean water, it helps to keep the soil nutrients available without the all the unknown junk that's in tap. The soil stays healthier when using clean water and the plants LOVE IT.

The other disadvantage of using City Tap water is the pH is raised to prevent heavy metals from leaching in the drinking water. The tap water I have tested are 7.9 to 8.4 pH which are very alkaline and over time will lock up trace minerals and raise the pH.
NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
Name: Carol H. Sandt
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
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csandt
Nov 13, 2019 6:32 AM CST
I have been using filtered tap water from my refrigerator, brought to room temperature before use.

Seven months ago I moved from a farm with well water to a home with chlorinated municipal water, so filtered tap water is part of a larger experiment with houseplants that includes choice of plants, light source, location, frequency of watering and temperature.

I am cautiously hopeful about this experiment, but I have killed many houseplants over the years, so we'll see...
[Last edited by csandt - Nov 13, 2019 6:36 AM (+)]
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Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 38 years
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Gina1960
Nov 13, 2019 7:08 AM CST
All of my greenhouse plants get highly mineralized hose water right from my well (186 ft).
All of my Houseplant Habitat plants (open, planted waterless aquariums) get RO water in both the humidifiers and the watering spray can, because some of them are from the Andean cloud forest are require pure water
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Nov 13, 2019 1:13 PM CST
I just use tap water here, except for my nepenthes carnivores, I only use distilled water for them. My Pinguicula carnivore seems okay with tap water here as well, even better if we do get rains. Rain is the best if we ever have it and I get to collect some.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Nov 13, 2019 4:05 PM CST
The information that tap water is harmful to Dracaenes and other species is outdated. The concern was chlorine and fluoride that are commonly added to municipal water supplies. This is no longer a concern. However, hard water or artificially softened water are problematic because of their excess mineral salts. Otherwise, tap water is fine.

Distilled water, rainwater, and most filtered waters are all good alternatives.
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Name: Sally
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sallyg
Nov 13, 2019 4:57 PM CST
I use rainwater if possible.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Nov 13, 2019 8:42 PM CST
Wouldn't it really depend upon where you live, your water source and soil makeup?

My water is snow-melt stored in an alkaline aquifer. Naturally soft water! Yay! My plants (and my misting system) are happy campers. Reno has the best water ever!

We had well water in CA. My misting system needed cleaning once a week (In Reno, once a year) and my plants were always crusted in mineral buildup. But... they did great!

I imagine the bigger worry would be damage from fluoride. If your water is so highly chlorinated, it harmed your plants, I would be worrying about my own health too.
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Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 38 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Nov 13, 2019 8:48 PM CST
I used to use a chlorine filter when we had city water because we could smell and taste the chlorine. Our well water is high in dissolved minerals and iron, and the water in the house is both softened and we have an 'iron curtain' filter. But the water that goes to the greenhouse comes directly from the well. Sometimes there is oxidized orange water in the hose after it sits overnight. Takes a minute to clear. But all in all I have never had anything die from the water here, with the EXCEPTION of some Andean cloud forest bromeliads. Which is why they live inside and get RO water. You are right, Daisy, it all depends on where you live.
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Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
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oneeyeluke
Nov 14, 2019 3:38 AM CST
After the water has been filtered, a disinfectant ( chlorine, chloramine)is added in order to kill any remaining parasites, bacteria, and viruses, and to protect the water from germs when it is piped to homes and businesses. The Chloramine is added to kill parasites and living microbes and the Chloramine will not evaporate even with heat. The only way to remove Chloramine is by RO or distillation. Chloramine is a additive that is harmful to plant microbes and is best not to use if one can. However people grow plants using tap water all the time, but the long term use of Chloramine build up in the soil is not as good as using clean water Since Chloramine is used to kill living organisms, it is not as good as clean water like RO, RAIN, Distilled for your prize plants.
NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 38 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Nov 14, 2019 6:44 AM CST
My husband used to have a salt water aquarium for corals and fish. We had to treat the city water for Chloramine with a special product that would neutralize it. It wasn't a problem out here with the well water.
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Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
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Ursula
Nov 14, 2019 8:39 AM CST
I use mostly rain water, especially now during the indoor season. We collect the rain water off the greenhouse roof, route it into the garage into large containers. With the help of a vacuum pump and a couple of compressors and some levers, I can route the water either outside for Summer use or upstairs into the greenhouse.
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Nov 14, 2019 8:55 AM CST
What is RO? I routinely kill houseplants, likely because I use my salt-filtered well water. I keep thinking I'll set up a rain water catch system, but so far have not. My latest strategy is to simply dig up native plants that might tolerate indoor conditions - ferns, piggyback, etc. along with their native forest soil. Often I get bonus plants from seeds or roots present in the soil.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
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Ursula
Nov 14, 2019 8:56 AM CST
Reverse Osmosis = RO
Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
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cwhitt
Nov 14, 2019 9:03 AM CST
At work we have a reverse osmosis machine and I sometimes use that - only occasionally though to help keep excess minerals from building up - I hear that kind of water is actually too deficient for plants. so mostly I use tap water - but I put it in an open container and let it age overnight to remove the chlorine.
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Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Bonehead
Nov 14, 2019 10:03 AM CST
Ursula, thank you. I would have never guessed (my pet peeve is undefined acronyms/abbreviations). I have a deep well, heavy in minerals. We run it all through a salt filtration system and I don't have a by-pass set up for watering. Plus the major reason we even filter the water is because of iron staining (and also taste). Not a perfect system but we've used it for 40 years with little problem.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.

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