Types of water for plants

larry_b(Zone5/CO)March 1, 2013

Hi all,

I have had several tillandsia for quite a few years. I mist them with water as one is supposed to, but I have a question about the type of water and using. I have always used filtered water from our water filter. It takes the chlorine out but none of the minerals that I know of.

I was reading that one should water tillandsias with either de-mineralized water or rainwater. Rainwater is not an option for me. I don't know how to get de-mineralized water other than distilled water. I've also read that one should not use distilled water on plants or with tropical fish. Something about the salts and minerals that is needed by all plants and animals that most water coming up the tap provides.

My question is, is this information about distilled water a fact or myth? I know that there's calcium in my drinking water and the tillandsias, that I mist in the terrarium, are being exposed to that calcium, because there is a calcium buildup on the inside of the terrarium after over six years in existence.

Thanks for any information!


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dellis326 (Danny)

Distilled water is hungry water. In many labs that have regular use of distilled water, they used to need to use all aluminum pipe, valves and fittings because, over time, distilled water corrodes most other metals. This is before plastic piping became common to use. Normally plants and animals will absorb minerals and nutrients from the water but distilled will draw those substances out.

Rain water is basically a naturally distilled water however as drops develop it also incorporates dusts and other partials from the air including bacteria and virus's, most of which are harmless but the point is that it is not longer actually pure water by the time it hits the ground, just (mostly) mineral free.

In your terrarium, since there is already a buildup of minerals you can probably use it with no problems since it will dissolve the minerals back into solution although in the long term you may need to figure a way to flush it out somehow so the plants don't get a salt burn.

Reverse-Osmosis water is also de-mineralized. Most stores that sell distilled around me also have R-O water. You can also try to mix either of these 3 parts to 1 part tap so it isn't pure anymore.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 9:59PM
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Hi dellis,

Thanks for answering my question. Should I spray distilled water directly on the tillandsia? That is my main concern.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 11:49PM
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You could mist( water) them directly. As the moisture depletes by evaporation the Tillies would also take what they need.

I'd be over watering mine with heavier misting sprays less frequently in a room sized environment by comparison if same watering where in a terrarium sized environment.

I assume an air plant wouldn't allow it's self to over water it's self in an indirect manner of a terrarium environment.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 12:35AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Have never had any luck growing tillandsias in terraria but I do grow them in my shadehouse and yard . they get water from the tap as well as rainwater. IME the most impotant thing is the drying cycle usually the more gray or silver in color the more important it is .
I used RO water in terraria mainly to keep the glass clean but my humidity alwys ran over 80 percent even without a lid. so i got rot though there are many types of epiphytes that appreciate this Tillandsia wasn't among them lol My outdoor terrarium is subject to rain as well as the irrigation system and since I couldn',t figure out a way for an automatic drain it floods I'm amazed at what can
survive ,even flourish though i wish i could figure a way to keep the tap water from the glass. That "lime " sure interfe4res with viewing lol gary

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 6:08AM
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I soak mine 1-2 times a week in rainwater for about 20-30 minutes. I collect rainwater mainly for my carnivorous plants.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 12:14PM
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