Can You Water Your Plants With Softened Water?

Can You Water Your Plants With Softened Water?

Jun 13th 2023

Can you water with softened water or should you use a different source of water for your plants and flowers?

One of the questions we receive all the time is about using soft water (aka: softened water) to water plants and flowers around the home. Is it safe to water with or should you be using collected rain water or ground water from a well? Essentially the answer comes down to this...generally speaking, you will not want to water with softened water. But let's first take a look at what soft water is.

What is Soft Water?

"Soft water" has been treated with salt (sodium) to help eliminate hard minerals and make it taste, smell or just generally have less "hardness" in it so that is better for the household. This is done in areas, especially rural, where the water source may be coming from a well or ground water source. The water coming into the house may have a very high amount of minerals that make it less desirable. So one of the common treatments is to run this water through a water softener, which treats the water with salt, BUT now that water has a very high salt content. This water may smell better, taste better and stain your clothes less, but when it comes to watering plants and flowers it will have a negative effect. Even medical personal will tell patients on a low salt intake to drink bottled water because of the high salt content in the water.

Using Soft Water on Plants

So what actually happens when you use soft water on plants? Well, the plants will have a boosted level of salt in their system and can cause them to have a lack of balance in water take up, making them suffer from thirst. Additionally, the salt will build up over time in the soil and compound the situation making it worse.

Simply put, you do not want to water your plants and flowers with soft water. It will affect them over time and negatively impact their growth and development.

Other options

So what can you do if your home has all water lines connected to the water softener? The first, and perhaps cheapest option, would be just to collect rain water to water your plants. Setting up barrels that are filled from rain gutters is a great option that many people do and just use the collected rain water.

Another option is if the ground water is closer to the surface, would be to use a sand point or well. We use sand points in our greenhouses to utilize the ground water that is just 8 feet below the surface. Of course, we are in a sandy area and don't have to draw from very deep down, but a sand point is an endless supply of clean, fresh water for our greenhouse crops and we don't have to pay on the water consumed, which at 500-2000 gallons a day is a real bonus. In our area it seems that everyone has a sand point well for their garden.

And if none of these other options are available, just simply re-routing a bypass line around the water softener may make perfect sense for your needs. A bypass line running to an outside spigot will make sure that you aren't wasting softened water where you don't need it, and will keep your outside flowers and garden from the harmful effects of softened water.

Watch our video on this below:

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