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Softened Water and Your Plants

Too much or not enough water is often the cause of plant decline and death. But what’s in your water could also be a problem.

Softened water can cause some plants to decline or even die.  Hard water contains large amounts of calcium and magnesium. These minerals are useful nutrients for our plants, but can interfere with soap’s effectiveness.

Most softeners replace the calcium and magnesium with sodium.  Plants only need a small amount of this chemical and just a bit more can be toxic. Over time many plants exposed to softened water can begin to decline.

Use unsoftened water for your plants. Capture rainwater or use the water from your dehumidifier as long as it is free of toxic cleaners.                                                                                                                  

Don’t let your plants sit in excess water, softened or not, that collects in the saucer. Use pebbles or other items to elevate the pot above the water that collects in the saucer.

A bit more information:  Fluoride and chlorine added to water can also harm some plants.  Spider plants, dracaenas and Ti plants often develop brown leaf tips. Keep the soil slightly moist or water these and other sensitive plants with water that is free of these chemicals. For more details read the Penn State article Softened Water Can Cause Hard Times For Indoor Plants.

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