Watering houseplants with softened water

(Question)

Can I use softened water on houseplants?

(Answer)

Using softened water to water plants can be a problem, as minerals like calcium and magnesium are removed from the water. Plants require these minerals for healthy growth. Another issue is that the amount of sodium in the softened water is higher and this element can build up in the soil. Excessive sodium damages plant roots and will show up as brown edges on the tips of the leaves.

There are a couple of things you can do to keep your plants healthy while you enjoy the benefits of your home softener. The first is to water the plant until water runs out the bottom of the pot. This extra water will flush out as much sodium as you add with the softened water and keep the sodium at roughly the same amount without building up. Next, regularly fertilize your plants so they have access to a source of calcium and magnesium that you are removing from the water. If possible, consider collecting rain water and using this to water your plants. This will avoid any problems with salts and minerals in your plant soil.