Watering with soft water

PhytoRoOctober 10, 2013

We recently moved to a new house and I�ve been trying to get my old collection of house plants little by little. It�s been a few months and some of my plants are not thriving at all, I killed a spider plant and I had no idea what was going on. Today somebody told me that if I water my plants with the water from inside my home I could kill them, because we have a water softener. Is this true? I don�t know what to think. My peace Lily is doing quite good (not flowering, but very big, dark green and pretty), I have a bromeliad which is giving out two "daughters", my Dracanea also has two daughters coming out and my Coleus and Pothos seem to be okay. However...I almost killed an entire spider plant...the easiest plant ever! My croton is slowly dying and in general, unhappy, and my dieffenbachia started to have random yellow leaves that are too numerous for my peace of mind.
So...am I really killing them with this water? Anything I should do other than getting the water from the outside hose?
Help!

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

yes, it's true that you can damage the plants because of the sodium from the water softening process.

Often it's only indoor water which is softened. So you may be able to use an outdoor spigot/hose.

That said, sometimes people put the entire system on the softener. So check how your system is set up.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 11:40PM
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dellis326 (Danny)

Salt makes for unhappy houseplants.

Water softeners usually work by ion exchange in which the water is fed through a container of resin and sodium is released into the water reducing the hardness by replacing magnesium and calcium, which is absorbed into the resin.

There should be a by-pass faucet on your softener to get unaltered water.

Someone else may be able to explain it better but that's that general idea.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 12:11AM
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dsws

If you have a dehumidifier, it's an easy source of sodium-free water. And as dellis326 says, look at the pipes around your water softener: you'll probably be able to find a place to get water upstream of the softener.

When you water, do you water enough that some flows out the bottom? Any amount of sodium above minuscule isn't so great for plants, but if you water in sips you'll have a lot more of it accumulating in the soil.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 2:20PM
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