Soft water on plants is never a brilliant idea simply because plants rarely perform well with soft water. Softened water contains high salt levels, affecting plants’ natural water balance.

Soft Water on Plants

If you’re curious about using soft water on your plants, this post will help you know why soft water isn’t good and how to protect your plants from its associated negative effects.

Is It Okay to Use Softened Water on Plants?

No, watering your plants with soft water isn’t advisable. While the plants might not be impacted in the short-term, long-term soft water use will cause damaging effects. Softened water that has gone through a softening process to remove hardness-causing magnesium, calcium, potassium, or sodium to remove minerals from hard water.


The problem with using softened water in the long run is that it leads to a build-up of sodium levels in the soil. This affects the soil quality since most plants can’t tolerate high amounts of salt. High sodium levels give plants the impression that they have taken up enough water when in the real sense, they haven’t. As a result, plants can easily die of thirst.

– Hard vs Soft Water for Plants

Since soft water might do more harm than good to your plants, is hard water bad for plants? Hard water contains magnesium and calcium carbonate salts. Usually, it causes spots, stains, and build-up on fixtures and sinks. However, hard water minerals are healthy for your plants when in the right amount. 

Always check for stunted growth to ensure that hard water doesn’t affect your plants. This indicates that there are high levels of magnesium and calcium, which might hurt your garden plants.

Check your water’s pH if you’re growing acid-loving plants like Begonias, Azaleas, and Caladiums. High alkalinity in hard water can also affect plant growth.

Essentially, it’s better to use hard water than soft water to water plants. Irrigating with softened water provides no value to your garden. Only use soft water occasionally, particularly in areas that receive natural rain. Opt for the normal tap water for your house plants

How To Avoid Damaging Plants with Soft Water?

To avoid damaging the plant using soft water, you can mix it with some rain water, and you can run it through a bypass treatment. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t use it to water your plants. You can take steps to ensure the softened water doesn’t harm your plants.

– Mix Soft Water with Rain Water

Collect rain water in your farm and mix it with the softened water. Doing this helps to reduce the effects of sodium. If you live in an area with minimal rainfall, buy distilled water instead.

Mix Soft Water with Rain Water

Which means that the irrigation process will no longer be harmful as much as it would have been if you didn’t dilute it. 

– Bypass Water Treatment

You can also install a spigot to bypass the water treatment process in your home. Installing a bypass valve will prevent water from going through the water softener. When you have this type of water in hand, remember that it would be weakening your plant in the long run, however, when you give it this treatment, this is the time when it will become less soft, and more on the stronger edge, 

Which Type of Water is Best for Your Plants?

The type of water that is best for your plants is the rain water, tap water, purified water, and boiled water are better water options for your garden plants. These are ones that have nutrients in them which are sufficient and helpful for the growth of your plants. 

– Rain Water

Rain water comes highly recommended since it’s free from hard water elements. This type of water also has the correct pH that suits many plants, including acid-lovers like camellias and rhododendrons.

The only concern about rain water is that it runs out during the hot summer months, and you would start looking for an alternative.

– Tap Water

Tap water will also meet your watering needs. However, this option might be costly for some gardeners, especially those with large gardens.

When using tap water to water your plants, it’s important to provide plants with water when needed. This ensures you don’t waste water and incur huge water expenses. Consider mulching your plants to rain moisture and keep the soil pH low, and this would be a great choice to balance things out.

– Purified Water

You can also use purified water on plants, to elaborate, this type of water doesn’t have impurities like minerals. But purified water is costly when watering plants on a large scale. Gardeners will also have to use fertilizers to give plants more nutrients for optimal growth.

– Boiled Water

Hot water that should be cooled and used to water plants. In areas where hard water is an issue as it would flow with the excess of minerals, the thing that you can do is to boil it, as it will help to remove the hardness. 

Boiling Water help to remove the hardness

How To Soften Hard Water for Plants?

To soften hard water for plants, you can perform reverse osmosis, by soil additives, natural ways, or boiling. Using chemical, natural, and filtration methods, you can make hard water naturally soft. Natural techniques use porous materials around the plant’s base, while soil additives soften water and balance the soil’s pH. 

– Reverse Osmosis

Besides mixing rain water with soft water and bypassing water treatment, you can remove salt from softened water through reverse osmosis.

This method is a process of demineralizing water that helps to remove sodium and other minerals from water. Which is when you can collect reverse osmosis water by installing a filtration system under your sink, as you will simply collect untreated water from your tap and use it to water your plants.

Since reverse osmosis gets rid of all minerals from water, it’s important to nourish your plants with valuable minerals like nitrogen and potassium chloride. Moreover, you may even start to use fertilizers and nutrient-rich soils to keep your plants healthy.

– Natural Methods

Volcanic rocks are porous, and they can help soften hard water. When water runs through these rocks, it collects magnesium and calcium carbonate in water.

Another simple way to naturally soften water is to leave it outside for a day. Water will adjust to the air and temperature outside, allowing harsher components to dissipate. Salt content tends to sit at the bottom of the container.

– Boiling 

Boiling hard water is also an easy water softening solution for your plants. You simply need to allow the water to sit for a while to cool before watering your plants. Watering your plants with water that is above room temperature could kill them.

Of course, this is a slight costly way to water your plants, but it helps when watering a small garden. However, also know that you shouldn’t over do it, because you wouldn’t want to lose all the nutrients. 

– Soil Additives

We’ve mentioned that hard water has minerals, and not all plants thrive in these minerals, like natural blends in liquid form. Use the right potting mix that will balance out the soil’s pH with existing minerals.

Use the right potting mix

When you add these into the soil and the water that you would irrigate it with will this, and it would be sufficient and helpful for your garden.  


You now know that soft water on plants isn’t recommended. Soft water contains high sodium levels, which will affect plants’ growth.

To water your plants correctly, keep the following in mind:

  • Use rain water, tap water, purified water, or cooled boiled water for your plants.
  • To avoid damaging your plants with soft water, mix the water with rain water or purified water. Alternatively, you can bypass the water softeners to ensure your water doesn’t get soft.
  • Soften hard water for plants using natural methods, such as using volcanic rocks, boiling water, or adding soil additives.

Avoid using soft water for a prolonged period for your plants to thrive. Instead, use the recommended tips in this guide to ensure you don’t harm your plants with soft water. 

5/5 - (5 votes)