Is Soft Water Bad For Plants?

Soft water comes with many benefits for your skin, hair, and even for better dishwashing. Hard water can leave mineral deposits on glasses, and even on your skin, so soft water offers many pros for uses in the house. But, with all the benefits of soft water for humans, can it be said that soft water for plants is beneficial, or harmful?

Watering plants with soft water can actually be harmful to the plants you are growing in your garden, and not knowing what kind of water you're using can be a reason why your garden is not flourishing the way you'd like it to. Water comes in different hardness levels, and the softer your water is, the more harm it could be doing.


What is Soft Water?

Soft water, or softened water, refers to water that does not contain the high levels of calcium and magnesium found in hard water. Soft water has a higher salt content and tastes better than hard water. In areas where hard water is the common type of most houses, people may use a water softener to create soft water from hard water, which takes out the minerals and adds salt.

Is Soft Water Bad for Plants?

Soft or softened water for plants can be harmful because of the high salt content that comes in the water. Most plants are not able to handle much salt and need a lot of water to survive. If the water that you are using for watering your plants is soft, then this could actually interfere with the water levels in the plant and cause it to stop absorbing what it needs.

Does Soft Water Kill Plants?

This lack of absorption happens because the salt will cause the plant to think it has the amount of water needed to survive when it doesn't. So, although it doesn't necessarily cause the plants to die directly, soft water does kill plants indirectly.

What You Can Do

Because of the fact that soft or softened water can cause plants to die, you don’t want to use soft water for watering your plants weekly or daily. However, if you have soft or softened water for your home, then it can seem like there is nothing you can do to the water to make it better for your plants. But that isn’t true.

Having soft water for your home is a great thing for many reasons, so needing water for your plants shouldn’t cause you to remove your water softener. So, if you need to figure out a way to get water that isn’t softened to your plants, here are a few options.

This source will help you to test the hardness level to determine if you have soft water that could be hurting your plants, and knowing if you have softer water than is good for plants can help you use different water to help your garden grow.

Purchase a Bypass Spigot

If your home has hard water, but you have had a water softener installed to soften the water in the house, then you can get a spigot that bypasses it. This means that the spigot will take water from the water line before it gets directed to the water softener. This allows you to have hard water without being softened to be allocated for use in the garden for watering plants.

This will keep the soft water for the rest of the house, but allow you to have the water that will help your garden grow.

Dilute the Soft Water

If you have soft water for your home and cannot find a bypass spigot, then you can try to dilute the amount of salt in the soft water. Doing this will not keep the salt from collecting in the soil, but it will allow your plants to absorb the correct amount that will keep them growing.

To do this, you will need water that has not been softened like the water for your house. So, you have the option of collecting water when it rains to use or to purchase distilled water. If purchasing distilled water in large amounts would be too expensive, especially for those with very large gardens, then collecting rainwater would be the best option.

Rainwater Harvesting

Although the act of harvesting rainwater seems simple, there are multiple ways to do this. Of course, the simplest way is to put out a bucket for when it rains. However, if you live in an area that doesn’t see much rain, then this may not give you enough water during the year to make a difference.

So, in areas where you need to collect as much water as possible with the few days of rain per year, you will need a bigger contraption to do the job. Imploring more complicated methods like building a run-off collector for the roof will give you a larger amount of water to use throughout the year.

Purchasing Distilled Water

If rain harvesting is not a viable option because your area gets extremely little rain, then buying distilled water may be the right choice for your garden. Taking the distilled water and mixing it with the softened water before watering the plants will lessen the effects that the soft water has on your plants.

However, just as the rainwater, it will not prevent salt from getting into the soil.


Using softened water for plants can end up causing more harm than good. However, because there are no softened water plants that survive off of soft water alone, you will need to find a way to continue using the water you have to water your garden. Whether you choose to take out the water softener for your home or begin collecting rainwater, you can find ways to keep your plants healthy and flowering.

With multiple options for you to choose from, you can begin to use your diluted water or bypass spigot to make sure that your plants are getting the water they need to bloom and flourish all year round.

Is Soft Water Bad For Plants?
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Tina Martino

My passion is gardening. Along with my husband and children, each year we grow a garden large enough to provide our family of five with over half of our needed produce. Besides vegetables and a small berry patch, I also focus my attention on beautifying our home with strategically placed flowers, herbs, and flowering plants. Gardening is more than just a hobby; it is a way of life.

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