Just singing in the rain! Tap water verses rain

meyermike_1micha(5)September 8, 2011

Plants can take a thorough soaking for days on end, but they can not take drinking water as so!


Take for instance Gardenia. If I water mine more than one day in a row with tap water, the leaves will YELLOW. But, if it rains and I mean pours for days on end, it can take that and stay a nice healthy green! NOT ONE YELLOW LEAF after 4 days of nonstop rain. It sings in the rain along with all my other unique and rare plants.

What does that tell you?

Either mother nature is know exactly what our precious plants like and the plants know that as they react with song, or tap water is a slow killer of all plants treated with all kinds of chemicals,salts, pH issues and toxins in which our plants despise and gag.

Perfect example after 3 days of over 6 inches of rain. Look how green and not one yellow leaf. If I water this tree just once more too much before the soil dries out, many leaves will yellow, especially on my Gardenia and Jasmines.

Don't be fooled by your yellowing leaves!


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Rain water in its passage through the air is able to pick up nitrogen from the air which your plants appreciate. Well water or city water does not have this benefit, plus it often contains boron or some other chemical bad for the plant. Al

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 10:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Love that last barrel pic, Mike!

We haven't seen or smelled rain for quite some time. Thunderstorms in the mountains
are building, however...could turn into rain, or lightning-stricken wildfires.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 11:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I noticed it a few years back, and haven't used tap water since. I now collect rain, filter it, and store it in my basement for use all winter long. Rain also has an acid pH, which is especially good for watering, considering that the pH of your water is more important than the pH of your soil, and that tap water is usually very alkaline.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 5:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
yellowthumb(5a Ontario)

I have observed the same thing. I could have watered the plants perfectly well for weeks using aged tap water (sit under sun for two days), the flower bud or new growth is kind of stubborn to open. But watch it when there is a thunderstorm, all of a sudden, all the buds wide open and with the shiniest new growth. Leaves perked up with pride. Feels like the plant is still kind of thirsty even though you water them adequately. Mother nature is the best.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 9:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Al made a great point about chemicals and nitrogen!

It is funny. When my gardenia or brunfelsia plants are even in full bloom, the white flowers will stay that way for days with rain. But soon as I use tap water, they all brown up! I wonder if a more acidic water keeps them from deteriorating?
Did you ever squeeze a lemon over a sliced apple to keep it from turning brown?

I think water at a higher pH speeds the breakdown process? I don't know just musing.

I too use rain water and collect into barrels to carry me through the winter. I hate using tap water.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 10:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We're so water logged in N.Y. it isn't funny. If I could send some of this rain down to Texas I would! I know you Texans need it bad.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 10:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Do you use a purchased rain barrel? If so, do you have any recommendations on what to look for when buying one? They are on sale online and at the big box stores this time of year, and I'd like to buy one. I am all thumbs when it comes to constructing anything, and I've been afraid that I would need to do something to my gutters to make it work.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 12:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good morning, folks!

Mike and I were chatting about citrus, and had this question, which perhaps one
of our most excellent Al's (Tapla, Calistoga, Redshirt) could answer ;-)

When one stores rainwater in a barrel (in a basement, for example), is there a change in pH and nitrogen?
Does the pH creep upward? Does the nitrogen charge degrade?



    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 1:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

Couldn't you just bring in snow (where you get snow) to melt in the winter?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 10:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, Susan. That's what I do. I put it in containers and put them in the bath tub to melt.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 11:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do you gals now how much work that is? Shoveling snow is much heavier than you think and it takes mounds of snow to fill one glass. But the idea sounds great. I do shovel snow onto the containers left outside all winter to keep them hydrated.

The 30 gallon plastic garbage barrel I have fills up as the rain comes down the gutter and then I use a hose to syphon into the ones I have in the basement. This take a whole few minutes.

Power horses you if shoveling is your choice. By the way, how have you been Gail? How long will you leave your Ciliva outdoors?

I hope someone answers about the nitrogen thing Josh asked:-)


    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 11:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bringing in snow is a lot of work, because a huge heap of snow doesn't amount to much water. But, it does give you water, so I suppose you could do it. As for the pH of stored water, it stays the same. The carbonic acid that acidifies the water is bonded with the water molecules, keeping the pH low. Apparently this is an issue for some areas that filter & store rainwater for human consumption, because the pH is too low for constant use, assuming storage in a plastic tank. Metals will bring the pH back up, be it a metal storage tank, or copper pipes, etc. When it comes to nitrogen, I believe it is negligable to begin with, so it's not really something to stress over, because either way, you can't rely on the minute amount in rain water to do much of anything.

As for getting a rain barrel, you're better off to get a 55g plastic barrel then to buy a "rain barrel". Check out classifieds or craigslist, because people have them all the time, usually selling them for 5 or 10 bucks. It's funny though how the eco-nuts want everyone to be green and use things like rain barrels, but then they just completely rip you off with the prices for the "green" things. I was at the Milwaukee Zoo yesterday and they were selling "rain barrels", which were nothing more than 55g drums from chemicals of some sort, for $50. These drums were from MMSD, which is the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. So they were basically selling used chemical barrels as rain barrels, and ripping people off with the price at the same time. So spends a little time looking around, because there are plastic 55g barrels available for cheap, or even free, all around.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 12:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thank you, Joe, that's what I wanted to know.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 1:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
howelbama(7 NJ)

I agree with Joe on the rain barrels. Look to any local soda or food processing plants, they will often give the blue ones away for free. Also pickling barrels work well too, just make sure they stored food products, and not something like hydraulic oils etc...and you will be good to go.

There are also lots of good how to videos all over you tube..

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 2:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, and I have to add, check your laws, because in Colorado, it is actually against the law to collect rain without proper permits. Yep, the Colorado law does not allow you to reduce water that would go into the rivers, which provide water for cities downstream.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Mike,
Just saw your question. I'll bring in the clivias probably at the end of the month - depending on the forecast.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 12:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have you ever had your water tested Mike? Is it from city or well water? Either way, rain water is usually very close to distilled water in the amount of solids. It's pH is usually around 6 which plants love. The mineral content is so low, rainwater flushes your salts out of your pots, reducing nutrient lockout.

Tapwater can have all kinds of minerals and additives such as chlorine and flouride, but most likely you have a high mineral content that may be causing a nutrient lockout problem, especially if you water is very hard. As others have mentioned, the pH can also be high.

I try to use rainwater as much as I can, and only use my well water (which is really not that bad as far as wells go), when the barrels run dry. If I am running low, I will always save my rainwater for my blueberries due to their low pH requirement. I also use my condensate from my ground source heat pump as well for watering during droughts.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 4:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Be careful where you gather rainwater from as well. I tried gathering off of my roof, and it was literally FULL of crap, from the birds. It also contained little pebbles from the shingles, maple tree seeds, leaves, and the water had a brown tint to it. I dumped it all, and now use an old resin tabletop with an umbrella hole in the center to funnel water to my collection system. It can store in an 18g rubbermaid outside, and upon my opening of a valve in the basement, the water drain through my filtering system, into a 55g drum. This way, I am getting nice, clean water.

Another thing to note is that collecting water from air conditioning units and dehumidifiers, while seemingly a good idea, can cause some problems as well. Basically, the water is merely condensation from on the copper coils of the evaporator, which happens because the coils are cold, and the air passing over it is warmer. With that said, whatever is in the air passing over it, ends up in the condensation water, including pet dander, odor molecules, and dust particles, which can be all kinds of different things. Also, the condensation water build up and sits on copper coils, which will leach into the water as well. The first clue that something isn't so "pure" with condensation water is the strange smell it has.

As for pH, most sources claim an average pH of 5.4 or so.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 7:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes. I actually called the Municipal Water Dept. Na told me that it is full of what you said. The pH is at 8.2 and higher.

The rain water I collect is very clean and much better than any faucet water as you can tell looking at the barrel. Every clean. It runs off a very small portion of the roof of my home. I can tell you that my plants have never been so happy since I have been doing this for a couple of years.
If I did not do this, I would resort to anything but tap water.

Thanks for the explanation about the ph and nitrogen values in rain water after it has been sitting in barrels.
Good questions Josh!

Great ideas here for sure!

Thanks Gail. Mine too. They have grown huge.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 8:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
yellowthumb(5a Ontario)

As Joe said, my water from the roof also has a brown tint to it, sometimes, I could even smell something offensive, like a gasoline. I think it's because of the organic shingles we use here. The best roof for rainwater would be clay, like the old Chinese roof, but none of them available here. Basically what I am told that rain water from the organic shingle is very close to water collected from a parking lot.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 9:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a standard tar shingle roof. My ppm is about 30, pH 6 coming off the roof which is very pure. I also have the spigot a few inches above the bottom of the barrel so any sediment collects in the bottom. I clean these out yearly. As far as the condensate from my heat pump, It's about 60 ppm and pH of 5-6, so is still pretty good. Much better then my tap water that is about 260pph and pH 7-8. I don't notice much difference using rain barrel or condensate. I do notice a difference when using the tap water, in that plants are less vigorous.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 10:29AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Growing Dahlia and Sweet Pea in same container? (advice)
I have a few very large planters, and while I do love...
Wicking more water retentive soils
I was wondering what the disadvantages are when using...
Jacques (MP, South Africa) S
Hello! Houzz's new format has presented some challenges,...
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)
Transplanting between containers
I'm looking for a rule of thumb for proper transplanting,...
cakbu z9 CA
Hydrophobic potting soil
The potting soil in some of my containers has become...
Sponsored Products
Glamos Wire Galvanized Sectional Garden Cage - 10 Pack - 711736
$80.84 | Hayneedle
Whitmore Ceiling Fan by Kichler
$307.80 | Lumens
Regan Dark Brass LED Pharmacy Floor Lamp
Lamps Plus
Orleans Chaise Cover - Sand
$229.50 | FRONTGATE
Emerald Home Grand Rapids Lamp Table - Latte Oak - T3411-06
$252.92 | Hayneedle
Lilac 18x18-Inch Square Silk Dupioni Luxury Decorative Pillow Cover Only
$99.95 | Bellacor
Safavieh Indoor/Outdoor Safavieh Rugs Cambridge Light Grey/Ivory 2 ft. 6 in. x
Home Depot
Veranda 27 Sand Rectangular: 5 ft. x 8 ft. Rug
$299.00 | Bellacor
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™