Filtered water can be a cost-effective way to maintain optimal health for your plants. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of different types of water solutions for your plants. We’ll also discuss the different filtration methods and recommend the best one for your home garden.
Is it Better to Give Plants Tap Water or Filtered Water?
It is better to provide filtered water for plants because this process removes chemical contaminants while still retaining the minerals needed to help plants thrive. Trace contaminants in tap water include heavy metals, pesticides, trace pharmaceuticals, and microplastics. Each of these can kill plant life or inhibit healthy growth, especially in large concentrations. A quality water filter will remove these contaminants every time and is more cost effective than other methods of filtration.
Can You Water Houseplants with Tap Water?
Regular tap water will not kill your plants, but it is not the best option for optimal growth. All tap water in the U.S. contains chlorine, which is used for purification purposes. When you water plants with regular tap water, chlorine will also kill some useful bacteria in your garden and can damage plant roots at high levels.
If your local water supply has been tainted due to chemical runoff or a natural disaster, that’s an even more convincing reason to use filtered water instead. According to the CDC, even if your municipality issues a boil water advisory, “you can use tap water for household plants and gardens.” But you should monitor updates to this rule and avoid watering edible plants with contaminated water.
Filtered Water Vs. Distilled Water For Indoor Plants
Experts sometimes recommend distilled water for use with houseplants because it has no chemicals that can harm plant life. The distillation process involves boiling water then reconstituting it from the resulting steam. As a result, water is entirely pure of all of contaminants – but also of all healthy nutrients as well. These minerals and nutrients that are naturally present in tap water can be beneficial to plant health.
Whole house water filters are also costly to provide for your entire home. Installing a distilled water filtration system in your home can cost thousands of dollars. A home water pitcher that uses activated carbon filters like Aquagear is the most cost-effective method. For a reasonable upfront investment and the cost of the occasional filter replacement, you can provide nutrient-rich water to your plants indefinitely. Simply pour your tap water into the pitcher and let it filter through, then pour onto your plants.
Using Softened Tap Water for Plants
Softened tap water is not a good choice for plants because it infuses high amounts of salt into the water that can be harmful to plant growth. Typically, users soften their water using a method that exchanges contaminated ions in the tap water like magnesium and calcium with ions of sodium. Feeding your plants with water that contains sodium, even in small amounts, will inhibit their growth and alter their cellular biochemistry.
Some water filters modify this approach by using an ion exchange media to remove contaminants but does not overload water with sodium. This provides the water filtration your plants need without also contributing a harmful additive.
Filtering Hard Water for Houseplants
Hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium that can cause scaling on your plants. This can prevent plants from effectively collecting sunlight. As hard water enters the soil, it can also leave a residue of calcium carbonate that inhibits collection of nutrients through the roots. For these reasons, it is a good idea to filter hard water before using it to feed houseplants. As we have already discussed, softening water with typical ion exchange system is not a great solution. But some water filter pitchers can do the job with minimal impact to your plants.
Make Water Safe for Your Plants
As we’ve already discussed, if tap water is your only option, it may be adequate for supporting plant life, but it might be better if filtered. Here’s a brief three-point checklist to ensure your plants stay healthy with the water you provide.
Check the pH and Temperature of the Water
According to a UMASS study, “water irrigation should have a pH between 5.0 and 7.0.” You can purchase an affordable pH litmus test online or at your local drugstore. Water temperature is also an important factor in ensuring optimal plant health.
Room temperature (62º-72ºF/16º-22ºF) is best for houseplants. Water that is too cold or too hot will damage the roots of the plant. This water temperature is perfect to activate the roots of the plant for maximum absorption.
Check In On Your Plant
Make sure you know how much water is expected for each plant species and that you are caring for them accordingly.
You can perform routine checkups on the water levels in your plants by sticking your finger in the potting soil and checking for moisture. If the soil feels dry, you should water. Don’t wait for your plants’ leaves to start wilting to water them liberally. Thirsty plants are more susceptible to disease and will eventually die. Water your plants in the morning to encourage evaporation throughout the day, which reduces the risk of disease due to oversaturation on the leaves.
Let Tap Water Sit Before Watering
You could use a water filter to remove chlorine, or you could let your tap water sit for approximately a few days in an open container before watering indoor plants. This lets the chlorine dissipate and will protect sensitive plants from the harmful side effects of that chemical.
Give Your Plants the Right Nutrients
Make sure your water filter removes contaminants but won’t strip away beneficial minerals in the process. You’ll also want to ensure that there are no harmful chemicals in your tap water, but that healthy minerals remain. A water filter pitcher like Aquagear will remove contaminants like PFOA/PFOS, PFAS, lead, chlorine, microplastics, trace pharmaceuticals, and more.
The Best Water Filter for Indoor Plants
A quality home water pitcher filter like Aquagear can remove harmful contaminants while leaving healthy minerals for your plants and you. Aquagear’s carbon and ion exchange process removes 2000% more contaminants than the average filter. Plus, you can enroll in a cost-effective replacement filter subscription to ensure your pitcher is providing the best water for your plants at all times and keeping it chlorine-free.