Houseplants are a wonderful addition to any home, adding a touch of life and color to our living spaces. However, keeping them healthy and thriving can sometimes be a challenge, especially when it comes to watering them. While most indoor plants can tolerate tap water, there are some benefits to using distilled water for houseplants instead.
Many houseplant enthusiasts are aware of the debate surrounding the use of distilled water for watering plants. While some swear by its benefits, others maintain that tap water is perfectly fine. So, what’s the truth? Is distilled water really better for your houseplants?
What is Distilled Water?
Distilled water is water that has been purified by boiling it and then condensing the vapor. This process removes all of the impurities from the water, including minerals, salts, and chemicals.
Benefits of Using Distilled Water for Houseplants
There are several potential benefits to using distilled water for watering houseplants:
- Prevents salt buildup. Tap water often contains salts, which can build up in the soil and damage the roots of your plants. Distilled water does not contain any salts, so it will not cause this problem.
- Prevents chlorine damage. Tap water often contains chlorine, which can also damage the roots of your plants. Distilled water does not contain any chlorine, so it is safe to use.
- Prevents mineral buildup. Tap water often contains minerals, which can also build up in the soil and damage the roots of your plants. Distilled water does not contain any minerals, so it will not cause this problem.
- Prevents fungal growth. Some fungi thrive in mineral-rich environments. By using distilled water, you can help to prevent the growth of these fungi.
- Helps plants absorb nutrients. Distilled water is pure H2O, which means that it is easily absorbed by plants. This can help your plants to get the nutrients they need to thrive.
In addition to the benefits listed above, distilled water can also help to prevent:
- Brown leaf tips. Brown leaf tips are often caused by salt buildup or chlorine damage.
- Leaf drop. Leaf drop can be caused by a number of factors, including mineral buildup, stress, and pests.
- Poor growth. Poor growth can be caused by a number of factors, including nutrient deficiencies, pests, and diseases.
Drawbacks of Using Distilled Water
While there are some potential benefits to using distilled water for houseplants, there are also some drawbacks:
- Lacks essential minerals: Tap water contains some essential minerals that are beneficial to plants. Distilled water, on the other hand, does not contain any minerals. This means that if you use distilled water exclusively, your plants may eventually develop nutrient deficiencies.
- More expensive: Distilled water is purchased from the store, and over time, can become quite expensive to use on a regular basis.
- Not always necessary: If you have high-quality tap water, you may not need to use distilled water. However, if your tap water is high in minerals or chlorine, distilled water may be a better option.
How to Use Distilled Water
To use distilled water for houseplants, simply water your plants with it as you would with tap water. You can also use distilled water to mist your plants.
Adding Nutrients to Distilled Water
While distilled water is generally safe for watering houseplants, it is important to note that it does not contain any nutrients that plants need to thrive. Over time, using distilled water exclusively can lead to nutrient deficiencies and stunted growth.
Adding Fertilizer to Distilled Water
To supplement the lack of nutrients in distilled water, you can add a liquid or powdered houseplant fertilizer to the water when you water your plants. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer label to use the correct amount.
Repotting Plants to Add Nutrients
In addition to adding fertilizer to distilled water, you can also help to prevent nutrient deficiencies by repotting your plants annually in fresh potting mix. Potting mix contains essential nutrients that plants need to thrive.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your houseplants get the nutrients they need to thrive, even if you are using distilled water.
Houseplants That Prefer Distilled Water
While most houseplants are perfectly tolerant of tap water, there are a few indoor plants that are more sensitive. Here are some houseplants that prefer to be watered with distilled water:
- Peace lilies Peace lilies are sensitive to the chlorine and salt in tap water, which can cause their leaves to brown and wilt. Distilled water is the best choice for these plants.
- African violets African violets are also sensitive to chlorine and salt, and they can also be harmed by the minerals in tap water. Distilled water is the best choice for these plants as well.
- Orchids Orchids are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants or objects for support. They have delicate roots that are easily damaged by the minerals in tap water.
- Carnivorous plants Carnivorous plants, such as Venus flytraps and pitcher plants, get their nutrients from the insects they catch. They don’t need the minerals in tap water, and in fact, these minerals can be harmful to them.
- Ferns Ferns are sensitive to the chlorine and salt in tap water, which can damage their delicate fronds.
- Calathea Calatheas are also sensitive to the chlorine and salt in tap water, which can cause their leaves to brown and curl. Distilled water is the best choice for these plants.
- Crotons Crotons are sensitive to the minerals in tap water, which can cause their leaves to yellow and drop.
These are just a few examples of houseplants that should be watered with distilled water. If you are not sure whether your houseplant needs distilled water, it is always best to err on the side of caution and use distilled water.
Additional Tips When Using Distilled Water
Here are a few additional items of note to consider when using distilled water to water houseplants:
- If you are using distilled water for the first time, you may want to gradually transition your plants from tap water to distilled water. This will help to prevent any shock to your plants.
- If you are concerned about the cost of distilled water, you can collect rainwater and use that instead.
- You can also use a filter to remove impurities from tap water before using it to water your plants.
- Allow distilled water to come to room temperature before watering your plants. Cold water can shock the roots of your plants.
The most important part of houseplant care is finding what works best for you and your houseplants. If your plants don’t seem to be thriving, however, you may want to try switching to distilled water to see if it may help.