What Kind of Water Is Best for Your Plants?

Most people grow plants as a hobby or pastime. However, some individuals take this activity quite seriously, even going as far as optimizing specific steps of the process to aid plant growth.

One particular step that you can very easily optimize is plant watering. You can do so by simply choosing the right kind of water for your plants. Yes, different types of water can yield different results. Some are effective, while others can be detrimental to plant growth. So, what is the best kind for your plants? To answer that question, you must first know your options.

What Are The Different Types Of Water?

Though there are countless water types and water treatment for gardens, only a few are accessible to homeowners. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting the best water for your plants. So, here’s a list of the different types of water and a bit of information about each one: 

  • Tap water is any water from a tap, making it the most accessible to most homeowners.
  • Distilled water is the steam from boiling water converted into its liquid state via cooling. It contains no contaminants, chemicals, or minerals, so it’s just pure water.
  • Purified water is similar to distilled water. However, it doesn’t have contaminants or chemicals. The main difference is that it still has traces of minerals. Other subtypes of purified water, like deionized water, have even fewer minerals.
  • Rainwater is exactly as the name suggests.
  • Aquarium water is tap water that is used to fill up an aquarium. 
  • Spring water comes from underground. You can buy it from stores like bottled water.
  • Soft water doesn’t contain as many minerals like calcium and magnesium as hard water, but it still has some traces of them. You can get soft water by using a softener.

As you can see, each type of water may vary in terms of source, chemical composition, and nutritional content. Another difference between them is their effect on plants.

Water Best for Your Plants
Water Best for Your Plants

That said, let’s start with the types that are suitable for plants.

Which Should You Wet Your Plants With?

The effectiveness of water for plants may vary according to three factors: (1) its nutritional, (2) chemical, and (3) oxygen content. Ideally, you want it to contain as many nutrients and oxygen as possible without too many chemicals. Some of the ones mentioned in the previous section fit these criteria very well. With that said, here’s a list ranking them according to their effectiveness: 

  • Rainwater is the best water for plants because it contains generous amounts of nitrates. That is because plants require nitrogen to grow but cannot use nitrogen gas. Nitrates are a form of nitrogen that plants can utilize efficiently, and nitrates happen to be one of the byproducts of lightning, which dissolves in rainwater.
  • Spring water contains a lot of oxygen due to the lack of oxygen consumers underground, where it’s stored for a long time. Moreover, spring water also has minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. For these reasons, spring water is a close second in effectiveness as it provides oxygen and macronutrients. 
  • Aquarium water, specifically the ‘dirty’ fish tank water, is often beneficial to plants, despite its detrimental effects on aquatic life. That is because it’s already been filtered in the aquarium, meaning there should be little to no traces of chemicals. Furthermore, it contains fish waste, which often has traces of nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, and healthy bacteria, which are beneficial to plants.
  • Purified water is not the best in terms of effectiveness, but it should still be beneficial to plants as it contains minerals, albeit in small amounts. Deionized water, one of its subcategories, is particularly suitable for plants as it doesn’t contain nutrients in the form of salt. If you aren’t aware, salt can inhibit plant growth.

The beauty of optimizing plant watering is that it doesn’t require too much effort or time. You only have to get the specific type of water you want to use and integrate it into your water treatment for your plants. But like how there are types of water that you should use, there are also those that you shouldn’t.

Which Kinds Of Water Shouldn’t You Use?

Some types of water are more harmful to plants than beneficial, be it due to the abundance of strong and harmful chemicals or the lack of nutrients. Below are some examples of these types of water:

  • Tap water can be suitable for some plants, but certain plants are sensitive to chemicals. Since tap water contains treatment chemicals like copper, iron, and pesticides, it’s not a good idea to use it for watering plants.
  • Soft water is softened through an apparatus called a softener to filter out hardening minerals like calcium and magnesium. Unfortunately, softeners cannot filter out sodium, a mineral that plants typically cannot handle. That’s the same reason it’s not advisable to dissolve salt into tap water, as it may harm the plant. In the same way, you must refrain from using soft water for plant watering. 

Distilled water is unique in that it doesn’t bring benefits, but it’s not necessarily detrimental to plants. That’s because it lacks both chemicals and minerals.

Final Words

While it may seem like a trivial step, changing the type of water you use for plant watering can significantly impact the plant’s growth rate. It may not be immediately noticeable; the effects will slowly show. The best part is that you don’t need to buy the best kind of water or get it from a faraway source. You can get it anywhere, as long as it’s raining.

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