houseplants hanging on the shelf

Hard water refers to water with higher levels of calcium, magnesium and other minerals in it. Hard water won’t harm your health, but it may have a different taste and leave a white residue on dishes, appliances and clothing. But what about your plants? Those with green thumbs and well-tended houseplants or home gardens might wonder which is better: hard or soft water? When it comes to plants, neither is a perfect option, unless you have naturally soft water. Here’s what you need to know about watering flowers with soft water or hard water. 

How Hard Water Affects Plants   

Like us, plants need minerals to survive. Most need small amounts of calcium, magnesium and other minerals that are found in hard water. So, low levels of hard water may not be a problem as far as most kinds of houseplants are concerned. 

On the other hand, hard water also has a higher pH than soft water. It is therefore basic/alkaline. Some plants are perfectly fine with alkaline water, but others need an acidic environment to survive. Plants that receive water that is too alkaline for them may begin to turn yellow and eventually die. Acid-loving plants which may be particularly vulnerable to this include: 

  • Azaleas 
  • Camellias 
  • Daffodils 
  • Nasturtium 
  • Irises 
  • Marigolds 
  • And many more 

You can help these plants thrive by adding alkaline fertilizer to their pots or soil. 

Are you looking for more information on hard/ soft water? We would be happy to answer any of your questions. Contact our team at D&B ClimateCare today. 

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How Softened Water Affects Plants 

Water that is naturally soft is ideal for plants. However, water that was once hard and has been softened is not ideal. Water softeners add very small amounts of salt to the water, swapping it out for calcium and magnesium. The lack of minerals isn’t usually an issue, most plants can still get what they need from the soil. However, the introduction of salt is less than ideal. 

Your plants don’t need salt and will ignore it, pulling out the water. However, there will be nowhere for the salt to go. It will build up in the soil until it begins to negatively affect the health of your plants. With enough salt, any plant will die. However, you may find that some plants are more sensitive and will turn brown faster than others. 

How to Remove Salt from Softened Water for Plants

Unfortunately, you cannot remove the salt from softened water to protect your plants. There are steps you can take to get your plants safer water. These include: 

  • Collect rainwater, which is naturally soft, and use it to water your plants. 
  • Have your HVAC technician install a bypass on your water intake line before your water softener. You can get water out from here, before it has been softened, to give to your plants. If your water is very hard this may not be the best solution. 
  • Use bottled water to water your plants. 
  • Re-pot plants to avoid soil build-up. 

Are you looking to purchase a water softener? We have just what you need. Contact D&B ClimateCare today. 


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