If you have houseplants and are trying to figure out how to get them to thrive, you’re probably wondering whether tap water or distilled water is better for them.
It’s a good question, and there isn’t a straightforward answer. To determine what type of water is best for houseplants, it helps to learn a little more about the pros and cons of each type of water.
Table of Contents
- What is Distilled Water?
- Things to Know About Tap Water
- Should You Use Tap or Distilled Water for Plants?
- Proper Watering
- Final Thoughts
What is Distilled Water?
Distilled water is water that is purified through a process called distillation. This process involves boiling water and collecting the resulting vapor. Distilled water is very pure, but it doesn’t have any minerals in it.
Things to Know About Tap Water
If you’re considering using tap water to water your houseplants, there are several things to keep in mind. Water quality is important for houseplants. One of the main reasons why there is no straightforward answer for using tap water on your plants is that tap water varies so drastically from one home to the next.
Here are the things to keep in mind:
Do you have hard water?
If you have frequent issues with limescale in your sink or showerheads, you likely have hard water. Hard water is water with high mineral content, most commonly calcium.
When you water your plants with hard tap water, you will start to see white buildup on the sides of the plant pot or even in the soil. In time, this buildup will change the pH of the soil and disrupt the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients.
If you have hard water and use it on your plants, you may need to use distilled water or some other type of water to flush out the mineral buildup.
Do you use a water softener?
Many people who have hard water use a water softener. While you might think that using a water softener makes hard tap water more beneficial for plants, that’s not really the case.
Most water softeners use sodium to counter the magnesium and calcium in hard water. Most houseplants do not like sodium. While the amount of sodium in regular tap water is likely fine for your plants, softened water likely has too much. If you have a water softener, avoid using tap water to water your plants.
Does your tap water contain enough dissolved oxygen?
Plant roots need oxygen to grow. The quality of the soil has a lot to do with this as you have to make sure it’s well aerated and shouldn’t stay moist or soggy. But, the oxygen content of the water plays a significant role, too.
Oxygen content is higher in water that doesn’t have a lot of dissolved minerals. While all tap water has some minerals, some homes have more than others. If your tap water has a lot of minerals, it likely has a low oxygen content and isn’t the best choice for your plants.
Are you using water straight from the tap?
Most if not all tap water is chlorinated, and chlorine is not good for houseplants. It kills the beneficial microbes in the soil and can damage the roots of the plant. If you use water directly from the tap, your plant might not grow well.
There’s an easy fix to this, though. All you have to do is let the tap water sit uncovered for about 24 hours before using it to water your plants.
Should You Use Tap or Distilled Water for Plants?
After everything we just mentioned about tap water, you might be thinking that tap water isn’t good for your houseplants, but that’s not necessarily true. It really depends on what type of tap water you have.
If you have hard water or use a water softener, your plants might not thrive. If your tap water has too many minerals or not enough oxygen, you might have to use an alternative option. But in most cases, tap water is fine for houseplants. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice.
Some plants are more sensitive than others, and even having just a little too many minerals might be enough to kill them. To decide which type of water is better, let’s look at the pros and cons of tap water and distilled water.
- It’s easily accessible.
- It’s usually very affordable.
- Most municipalities have water quality controls in place so you can trust that it’s somewhat healthy.
- It can be too hard for plants.
- Added chemicals, like chlorine and fluoride, can make it unsafe for plants.
- The quality varies widely from one city to the next.
- Distilled water is very pure and has no impurities.
- There are no potentially harmful chemicals in distilled water.
- Beneficial minerals are removed during the distillation process.
- It is much more expensive than tap water.
As you can see, both tap water and distilled water have both good and bad things about them. Generally, which one is best for your plants depends on what plant you’re watering and the quality of your tap water.
If you’ve been using tap water and your plants are doing fine with it, there’s no reason to make the switch to distilled water.
But, if you know that your tap water is hard or doesn’t have the right balance of nutrients, you may want to make the switch to distilled water. Just keep in mind that distilled water does not contain any nutrients, so you will need to add a supplement or fertilizer if you use it exclusively.
No matter what type of water you choose, the best thing you can do to make your plants grow better is water them properly.
The most important thing you can do when it comes to watering houseplants is to research the plant to determine its watering needs. Some plants like soil that is constantly moist while others do best when their soil is allowed to dry out completely between deep waterings.
Remember that your plants will usually dry out faster in the summer, especially if you move them outside or place them next to a bright window.
In the winter, indoor plants usually dry out pretty quickly, but many plants go dormant in the winter and won’t require extra watering. Again, research each plant to determine what it prefers.
The most important thing to consider when choosing tap or distilled water for your plants is the plant itself.
If you have multiple houseplants, you probably already know that some are pickier than others. Some plants will do just fine with tap water. Others that are more sensitive may not.