The Garden Helper

Helping Gardeners Grow Their Dreams since 1997.

No-dash-here, you've found The Real Garden Helper! Gardening on the Web since 1997

How do I Soften my Water for House Plants?

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2004
by Alaska Girl on March 12, 2004 07:53 AM
I have semi-hard water and need to know what is the best way to soften it?? I have read somewhat about this, but am unsure which kind of liquid or powdered softening agent to get and where to get it?? another option is a 2&1/2 gallon bucket of water with a suspended cloth sack filled with 1 lb. of peat moss (not sure where to get this either)in it, and the peat moss draws the calcium out of the water. i live in an extremely rural area, and need some advice?? also, do ALL houseplants like softened water??? thanks!!
by Rick on March 12, 2004 09:23 AM
Alaska Girl,
I've never heard of softening water for plants, and am not sure it's a good idea. Most of the minerals that make water "hard" are required by plants. The minerals being dissolved in water is how they absorb them. Unless you have a large surplus of some mineral in the soil, I wouldn't think it necessary or even beneficial. Most water softening equipment uses salt. Excess salt in the soil would be a bigger problem, and in some western states, it is a very big problem.
by Danaus29 on March 12, 2004 02:40 PM
The best water would be rainwater or melted snow (one way you could benefit from yellow snow). The salts that remain in softened water can accumulate and kill your plants. Second best solution would be water from a nearby creek or stream.
by Phil and Laura on March 12, 2004 03:38 PM
Here I am being a big know-it-all, Again! [Big Grin] [Embarrassed] I'm thinking, Alaska Girl, that you have alot of available "fertilizer" [gabby]
They call a late spring snow, "Poor Man's Fertilizer" [grin] late snowfall is good for the crops and helps everything green up.Snow contains nutrients and also a lot of moisture. And if that snow falls on ground that's not frozen, as it would be in late spring, then the nutrients and moisture in that snow can penetrate into the soil and actually do some good for the plants that will grow in that soil later on in the year. [dunno]
It contains nitrogen of course and actually it contains more of that now than it has in the past because of acid rain. The content of nitrogen and sulphur and some other elements has increased over the last several decades and has been considered a problem in terms of acidification of soils. But, in soils that we use for gardens and lawns, usually there's a shortage of nitrogen and that input can be helpful. [teacher] [grin] [Big Grin]
by papito on March 12, 2004 05:14 PM
I agree with Rick and Danaus that softened water by commercial process is not good for house plants or garden and lawns because of excessive sodium [salt] content.

Is your municipal water/tap water chlorinated or fluouridated? This is not good for houseplant either. You can eliminate chlorine but not fluoride from the tap water by letting the water sit for a while.

But, you can certainly use peat or sphagnum moss to soften your semi-hard water (by the method you described in your post above) to lower pH and reduce but not eliminate the calcium [not sure about magnesium] contents, however, in doing so, you will also get tannic acid in the process. Are your houseplants acid loving plants?

You can buy dried Peat or Sphagnum moss in most garden centers/lawn & garden shops; the moss may have a range of pH less than 4 or pH less than 5.

* * * *

Amor est vitae essentia.
Love is the essence of life.
by Will Creed on March 13, 2004 12:43 AM
We seem to be in agreement that softening agents are harmful to plants.

Hard water is high in mineral content; too high for good plant health. The nutrients and minerals that plants need should be in the soil, not in the water.

The amount of fluoride in normal drinking water is not high enough to cause problems for plants. However, perlite and superphosphate fertilizers are both potent sources of fluoride that should be avoided with fluoride sensitive plants, especially Dracaenas, spider plants and peace lilies.

Chlorine is also not generally an issue for plants in concentrations used in most drinking water. Chlorinated swimming pool water would be a problem.

Acid rain is a problem in certain areas of the country that are downwind from industrial areas that emit smokestack pollutants. It is devasting to local forests. If it is not a problem in your area, then collecting rainwater is a good source of water for plants. Filtered and distiled water are also good options.
by weezie13 on March 13, 2004 03:47 AM
I just [Cool] LOVE IT [Love] when you
guys all talk like this!!
All good information and ways to do things.
Way to go guys!! Thank~You!!!
[thumb] [clappy] [grin] [flower] [wayey]


P.S. Danaus29 you too girl!!!

* * * *

Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2


Active Garden Forum

Search The Garden Helper: