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Black Thumb? Better Water Can Help Your House Plants!

A person smiling while water their plants

If you’re struggling to keep things green and growing, your water might be to blame.

It’s a proven fact that bringing the outdoors in by adding plants to our homes and offices has a positive effect on everything from our stress levels to our physical health. Our connection to nature is real, and it runs deep; if you’re struggling with things like dry skin and sad hair thanks to hard water, or smelly drinking water thanks to chlorine, your plants are very likely feeling the same pain. Here’s how your water quality affects your plants:

Hard water leaves deposits that repel water.

Yes, really. Think about the scale, spots, and scum that hard water leaves behind on your dishes, tub, or toilet. Those same minerals are left on the soil or roots of your plants, and they actually prevent your plants from properly absorbing moisture. Everyone knows that a plant needs water to grow and thrive, so this is a huge problem.

Hard water doesn’t get along with plant fertilizers.

Most fertilizers are high in salt, and when you combine that with hard water, the residues left behind are even heavier, and the situation described above is even worse. Instead of helping your plant to thrive, the fertilizer actually ends up making them even thirstier.

Chlorine in tap water kills beneficial microorganisms in soil.

Most municipalities add chlorine to tap water for sanitation, because chlorine kills microbes. However, that intended benefit for our drinking water is actually a negative for our plants, who need those microorganisms in soil. While the microorganisms do return fairly quickly after watering with chlorinated water at first, over time they will become a bit slower to bounce back, and your plants could suffer as a result.

Fluoride in tap water can be hard on the leaves of some plants.

Some plants, usually those with longer, narrow foliage like a spider plant, are sensitive to the fluoride that is in our tap water. Over time, fluoride builds up in the soil and the leaves of your plant will become brown at the tips.


Tap water can contain other contaminants, including bits of metal or other sediment from city water infrastructure.

The water that comes into your home travels there from a water treatment plant in your town or city, and depending on the state of that infrastructure, various particles and sediment can be picked up along the way.

So what’s the best water for your plants?

The number one best source of water for plants is rain water, but catching, storing, and using rainwater isn’t always an option. The second best choice is reverse osmosis water, which is relatively free of salts, compatible with liquid fertilizers, and great for your soil and plants (and you!), Check out Pura Fresh, our multi-stage reverse osmosis purification system, which will filter out chlorine, fluoride, and other contaminants.

More plant watering tips, just because.

  • Not sure when to water? Poke a finger an inch or so into the soil. If quite a bit of moist soil is stuck to your finger when you remove it, then you don’t need to water. If the soil feels dry and there’s just a little dry soil on your finger, water away!
  • A good rule of thumb to remember is that, in general, underwatering is better than overwatering. Give yourself some time to get to know what each plant likes best, but err on the side of less is more. A thirsty plant will usually bounce back when you water it, but an overwatered plant will have a tough time and can easily rot and die.
  • If installing a permanent solution for better water isn’t an option for you just now (did you know we offer rent or rent-to-own, in addition to buying?), let tap water stand in your watering can (or a larger container if you have a lot of plants) for several days. The minerals and chlorine in the water will dissipate somewhat, and this will be better water for your plants than straight from the tap.

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