While regular tap water is safe for outdoor plants, some houseplants are very sensitive to the chemicals which are found in it.
For example, it contains added fluoride, and while small amounts usually don’t hurt plants, over time, it forms build-up in them, interferes with photosynthesis, and damages the plant tissue.
Some greens like palms, Boston ferns, spider plants, bamboo, peace lilies, and dracaenas are extremely sensitive to even small levels of fluoridated tap water. That’s why it’s best to be careful if you have any of them at home.
Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of using distilled H2O and how to create a thriving indoor garden.
The benefits of using distilled water
Distilled water is one of the most popular alternatives to plain tap water for watering houseplants. It’s a type of purified H2O that undergoes a rigorous process, including boiling and condensing the vapour.
Using it on plants has its benefits because it can help prevent toxicity build-up. However, while the distillation process helps remove contaminants that can harm plants, it also removes valuable minerals that plants need to grow healthy.
The bottom line is that distilled water can be good for plants because it doesn’t have harmful chemicals. However, the lack of nutrients also means you may have to use supplements or consider another type of water, such as one filtered through ultraviolet filters.
Houseplants are primarily the ones that will benefit from being watered with distilled water. Outdoor greens use the soil to filter excess minerals or contaminants.
The plants in containers can’t do that because the container traps harmful toxins, which can build up to unhealthy levels.
However, giving distilled water to houseplants isn’t always necessary. It’s best to observe the growth and colour of their leaves, and if any sensitivity arises, switch to distilled water.
What are some methods to prepare distilled water and use it on plants?
You can purchase distilled water at almost any grocery store. You can even buy a distillation kit and make it yourself at home.
However, if you can’t find one, partially fill a large metal pot with tap water. Get a glass bowl that can float in it and serve as a collection device.
Place a lid upside down on the big pot, turn on the heat medium-high and put ice cubes on top of it. They’ll promote condensation, which will collect into the glass bowl. Bring the water to a low boil.
After that, reduce the heat to keep the water at a simmer. Keep a close eye on it and carefully empty the water from the top of the lid as many times as you need to.
The steam rising from the water will collect on the cold lid and then drip into the floating container. This collected water will then be distilled.
Keep in mind that distilling at home is an intensive, costly, and potentially dangerous process. To create just 470ml of distilled water, it’ll take you 2 hours.
Are there any nutrient deficiencies that can arise?
Proper nutrition and consuming enough water are essential for the well-being of all living organisms. And because of the fact that the process of distilling water also removes minerals which are beneficial for houseplants, using it over time can result in stunted growth and discolouration.
To compensate for that, you can add powdered or liquid nutrient supplements to the soil or water you use for your plants. That can ensure no such scenario occurs and that your greens will grow strong and healthy.
Can you still use tap water (and what must you avoid)
That entirely depends on the H2O quality in your region. Generally speaking, so long as it’s safe for you to drink it, it’s also safe for most of your houseplants, provided that you follow one key safety principle.
Some areas, however, will have the tap water contain things like chlorine, chloramine, fluoride, lead and pathogens, which can be especially harmful to your houseplants.
It’s essential to note that temperature plays a factor as well. Using really cold water, for example, can either damage the roots or kill some tropical plants (not to mention how sensitive they are even to the tiniest of fluctuations).
While distilled water is best, you can still use tap H2O if it’s safe for you to consume, provided that you follow one specific rule recommended by gardening experts: you must first let it sit for 24 hours before watering your houseplants. This will allow most particles to settle down and for the H2O to warm up to room temperature.
Doing so will also ensure that you are far less likely to expose your plants to harmful chemicals and pathogens. It’s a good thing to know this rule, as it’s likely you won’t have constant access to distilled water, but your houseplants might need watering.
Other alternatives at your disposal include using rainwater and boiled tap water (after it’s cooled down). The latter will surely destroy the pathogens contained inside but won’t do much good about the chemicals.
It’s also good to know that tap water and well water are usually sources of hard water. In this type of H2O, there’s an excess of minerals and also heavy metals. Lots of houseplants cannot tolerate this and, if exposed to that, might die.
Water softeners might be one of the ways households deal with this type of problem, to limit the damage to appliances and the awful stains. However, H2O generated with this method can kill your plants due to the fact that softeners work through the addition of salt creating salt water.
Surely, distilled water is the best option when it comes to creating thriving houseplants. However, with the added caveat that your greens still need all the proper minerals to grow and be healthy.
Although this type is the best option, it’s still safe to use tap water and other alternatives, provided that you follow the few crucial safety tips we’ve provided above. Doing so will ensure your houseplants will receive proper amounts of water without it becoming a danger to them.