Is Softened Water Bad for Houseplants?

person adding salt to water softener

Water is essential for life, and all plants need water to thrive. However, the type of water you use can make a big difference in the health of your plants. Some people believe softened water is terrible for houseplants, but is this the case?

Softened water is probably not the best choice for your houseplants. This has to do with the mineral content of softened water and how it interacts with your plant’s soil.

Read on to learn more:

What is softened water?

The softening process removes calcium, magnesium, and other metals (e.g., sulfates) in hard water.

Lime softening and ion-exchange resins are traditional processes used to soften water but are increasingly being replaced by reverse osmosis membranes and nanofiltration.

What are the benefits of softened water?

Softened water is quickly becoming a popular option for many households across the United States. Softened water is not only beneficial to the plumbing systems in a home, but it can also provide numerous other benefits throughout the entire house.

The water softening process reduces the scale build-up and soap scum that can accumulate inside pipes and appliances over time, making them last longer. Additionally, clothing washed in softened water will stay cleaner for longer since there’s much less residue left on clothes or fabrics after washing. Consequently, this also helps reduce laundry detergent usage by up to 50%, leading to cost savings over time.

Is softened water terrible for plants?

Softened water replaces calcium and magnesium in hard water with sodium, a key element in salt. Over time, so much sodium can accumulate in your house plant’s soil that it impacts soil structure and negatively impacts your plant’s ability to retain moisture.

You can water your plant regularly with softened water; over time, it could still die of thirst.

Watering Your Plants if You Have A Water Softener

So, how should you water your houseplants if your house has a water softener? Here are some ideas:

Use a Bypass Spigot

A bypass spigot is a great way to access unsoftened water in your home. It’s an easy, cost-effective solution that allows you to get two different types of water from the same source – soft and unsoftened.

Installing a bypass spigot isn’t difficult and can save you a lot of money in the long run. You’ll need to purchase the necessary materials at your local home improvement store or online, such as a bypass valve, tubing, and connectors. Once all these items are in place, you’ll be able to switch between soft and unsoftened water whenever needed quickly. Depending on how much maintenance is required, you may even be able to install it yourself without having to hire a plumber!

Collect Rain Water

Collecting rainwater is an increasingly popular way to water plants using natural resources. Rainwater is an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly way to keep your garden healthy without relying on municipal water supplies. You can start collecting rainwater and using it to water your garden with a few simple steps.

The first step in collecting rainwater is investing in a barrel or cistern holding the water. Many sizes are available, so choose one that fits your needs and space constraints. Place the barrel directly underneath a downspout from the roof of your home or nearby building; this will ensure that only clean, fresh rainwater enters the barrel. You can also purchase filters for your downspouts, which will block debris from entering the barrel.

Use Distilled Water

Watering your houseplants with distilled water is an effective way to keep them healthy and strong. Distilled water offers many benefits that regular tap water can’t provide. It contains fewer minerals, solids, and chemicals than normal tap water, which makes it less likely to accumulate in the soil of your plants. Using distilled water prevents clogging of the plant’s roots due to mineral deposits and helps prevent root rot caused by over-watering or too much alkali.

The distilling process removes chlorine from the water, which can harm delicate plants such as succulents or cacti. Chlorine can cause discoloration of leaves and reduce a plant’s ability to uptake nutrients from its soil.


In conclusion, softened water is not the best choice for houseplants. While it may be available more quickly and conveniently, soft water can cause nutrient deficiency, increase salt build-up, and decrease soil fertility. For optimal health of your plants, it’s best to use other water sources.

Kate Inskeep

Kate Inskeep is a mom of three from Illinois who loves growing things. She fell in love with houseplants after a friend gifted her some succulents. Before long, her windowsills were full of plants, and she was hooked.

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