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KingPlant
Jan 2, 2018 2:56 PM CST
Is it safe to give plants warm water in the winter?
Name: Lin
Southeast Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
Jan 2, 2018 4:14 PM CST
I used to heat water in my tea kettle and let it cool to room temperature for watering house plants many years ago so it won't hurt as long as it isn't too hot.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Jan 2, 2018 5:43 PM CST
Indoor plants do best with room temperature water, although nearly all will tolerate water temps that are comfortable enough to wash your hands, i.e. not really cold or hot. Water temp is not something you normally need to be concerned about.
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jan 2, 2018 6:32 PM CST
KingPlant said:Is it safe to give plants warm water in the winter?


In another thread you mentioned a plant having frozen soil, so are we talking about plants outside? If so, no I would not give them warm water in winter.

Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Jan 2, 2018 9:54 PM CST
what plants and how warm?

Some plants need warm water- for example, my phanenopsis orchids are just coming into bloom inside and its 5 degrees outside. Water from my pipes comes in at ~40 degrees or less, if I watered my inside phals with that right now, they'd drop all their buds. On the other hand, i can go up to 110 degrees- anything "luke warm" and they won't drop buds. Pretty much anything comfortable on your hands is fine for watering indoors-

outdoors it doesn't really matter.
Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Christine
Jan 3, 2018 6:57 AM CST
I always let my tap water sit for at least a day before I water my plants, room temp is ideal IMHO

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KingPlant
Jan 3, 2018 3:17 PM CST
Okay. Thank you all for the help! Acorn
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jan 3, 2018 6:34 PM CST
If you can, you will be doing your plants a big favor if you give them rain water.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Jan 3, 2018 6:57 PM CST
Rainwater is only necessary for areas where the tap water is hard, meaning it contains lots of minerals. Even then, filtered or distilled water are also good options.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Name: Lin
Southeast Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
Jan 3, 2018 7:03 PM CST
We have hard water, so I use RO (Reverse Osmosis) filtered water for my indoor plants.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jan 3, 2018 8:08 PM CST
But only if it rains... We haven't had any rain since last May.
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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jan 3, 2018 8:39 PM CST
Unless you live in an area with extremely high calcium or magnesium in your water, hard water does not hurt plants.
That said, it also depends on what plants you have.
We have very hard water in my gardens areas, the south one has technically acidic water with high iron content, while the north one has calcium and it does not hurt plants but rain water contains nitrogen which is good for plants.
That is the reason a dry lawn recovers far better from an inch of rain than an inch of city or well water.

Distilled is best if you want just give them water, RO water is second best, or if you want to mix something in your water and you do not want to worry about what your water might already contain.
My cats seem to like rain water also as have found Sammy drinking out of the five gallon bucket of rain water , I had in the basement, several times even though his water bowl is always fresh.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 4, 2018 1:24 PM CST
We have very hard water and I use it for almost all my plants (mostly succulents). It is important to flush with every watering (I like to make sure about a quarter of the total water passes through holes at the bottom of the pots) otherwise the salts in the water will build up in the soil over time and cause complications for the plants. Even mildly hard water will be problematic for container plants if you do not flush on a regular basis.

Most hard water is full of dissolved carbonate, and the issue there is mostly about pH. Our water comes out of the tap at pH 9 or more (very alkaline for tap water) and most plants are not great at absorbing nutrients from water like that. It's not so much the dissolved salts being harmful to the plants (which they surely must be when allowed to accumulate in soil) but the fact that most plants are unable to take up the nutrients they need to grow much above neutral pH. You can add all the nutrients you want but they will not be available to the plants. Rain water is superior to hard tap water in this respect because it has a pH closer to neutral.

So to correct for this I use the tap water with a measured amount of acid added to reduce the pH to approximately neutral (I like pH 6). This drives out most of the carbonate hardness. Our very salty tap water is not an issue when the pH is adjusted, and in fact I have to introduce a fair amount of salt along with the acid (300mg/liter) which actually increases the total dissolved salts. Not a problem.

You have to acidify the water carefully because overshooting is worse than adding nothing at all, but the supplies and advice should all be available in the aquarium department of your local pet store. If you use products for planted aquaria (I like one called Acid Buffer which is basically bisulfate with calcium or magnesium as the counter ion) then you can be sure they are plant-safe.

The primary danger in using the wrong acid (which is the same danger involved with much softened water) is that you will introduce sodium to the system and that's usually really bad for plants in quantity. Regular cane vinegar and all sorts of other readily available acids will work just fine to acidify water if you are careful to check the pH afterwards.

These considerations are way more important for plants in containers than plants in the ground. I never acidify the water I use for plants in the ground, and it seems not to be an issue.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 4, 2018 3:10 PM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 4, 2018 3:54 PM CST
A side note related to purified water... which is not always what you think it is. The purified water we buy for drinking is pH adjusted to the range of spring water, which is to say alkaline. It contains much less salt and sediment than our tap water but it is actually the exact same pH. For health reasons or whatever. The delivery truck has a happy baby's face pictured on the side, presumably advertising the kindness of the alkaline water. Smiling

When I use that purified water for plants, and I do consistently use it for the ones in clay pots, I actually add the same amount of acid to it that I would use for our hard tap water, to arrive at the same pH endpoint just below neutral. Our purified water would probably perform only marginally better than our tap water with respect to nutrient uptake (due to pH issues discussed above) but I still use it because long-term watering of clay pots tends to leave a white crust all over the outside of the pot otherwise, due to the water evaporating through the sides and leaving salt behind. Whatever might pile up there over the summer from the purified water will be washed away in the winter rain.

We haven't had any rain since May either. Sad Perhaps next week, they say.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 4, 2018 3:59 PM (+)]
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Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Jan 9, 2018 10:35 PM CST
I have the opposite problem, my tap water is FANTASTIC- it comes out of the tap purer than most RO units can achieve (TDS under 40, 0ppm carbonate hardness, 0 derees general hardness, municipal water report shows 0 ppm mg and maximum reading of 4 ppm Ca, with a range of 0-4 over the previous 12 months)- purer than most bottled water..

It comes out of the tap at 6.4- but that's becasue of high levels of atmospheric CO2 dissolved due to turbulence in the pipes and the lack of ions that would provide buffering capacity- not becasue it is inherently acidic- if you let it sit on the counter to out-gas for an hour or two, it is exactly neutral.

That means my plants don't get the macro nutrients Ca and Mg that most people have in their tap water. I have to add them.

I don't disagree with any of your prescribed behaviors, Baja, I just want to highlight that while rain water provides more control to the user, it also brings up its own list of probable deficiencies-
so when determining if your deficiency is too much (so your plants can't uptake what's provided ) or too little (where there's nothing to take up) is gonna be really specific to your water supply... location location location-

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