Home Plant Care and Maintenance Watering Plants with Softened Water: A Guide for Gardeners

Watering Plants with Softened Water: A Guide for Gardeners

by Donna
4 minutes read

Can You Water Plants with Softened Water?


If you have hard water in your home, you may be considering softening it to improve its taste and make it easier to use for household tasks. But what about watering your plants? Is softened water safe for plants?

What is Softened Water?

Softened water is water that has been treated with sodium or potassium to remove minerals like calcium and magnesium. This process makes the water softer and easier on your pipes and appliances.

Effects of Softened Water on Plants

Unfortunately, softened water is not ideal for watering plants. The high sodium content in softened water can interfere with the water balance in plants, causing them to wilt and eventually die of thirst. Additionally, the salt in softened water can build up in the soil, making it difficult for future plants to grow.

Alternatives to Softened Water for Watering Plants

If you have softened water in your home, there are a few alternatives you can consider for watering your plants:

  • Install a bypass spigot: This allows you to have a separate water line for plants that takes water from before it is softened.
  • Mix softened water with rainwater or distilled water: Diluting softened water with other water sources can reduce the sodium concentration and make it less harmful to plants.
  • Use collected rainwater: Rainwater is naturally soft and free of salts, making it an ideal choice for watering plants.

Treating Soil Affected by Softened Water

If you have already watered your plants with softened water and the soil has become salty, you can take steps to correct the salt levels:

  • Leach the soil: This involves flushing the soil with large amounts of water to draw out the excess salt. Be sure to test the soil afterwards to ensure the salt levels have decreased.
  • Add nutrients to the soil: Leaching can also remove beneficial nutrients from the soil, so it’s important to replenish them by adding fertilizer or compost.

Best Practices for Watering Plants with Softened Water

If you do choose to water your plants with softened water, follow these best practices:

  • Dilute the water: Mix softened water with rainwater or distilled water to reduce the sodium concentration.
  • Test the soil regularly: Monitor the soil salt levels to ensure they don’t become too high.
  • Avoid overwatering: Overwatering can exacerbate the effects of softened water on plants.
  • Choose salt-tolerant plants: Some plants, such as succulents and certain vegetables, are more tolerant of salt than others.

Long-Term Effects of Softened Water on Garden Soil

While leaching can help to remove excess salt from soil, it’s important to be aware that the long-term use of softened water can still have negative effects on soil health. The sodium in softened water can alter the soil structure and make it more difficult for plants to absorb water and nutrients.


While softened water may be beneficial for household use, it’s not the best choice for watering plants. If you have softened water in your home, consider using alternative water sources or taking steps to mitigate the effects of salt on your plants.

You may also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More