Many homes in Calgary have water softening systems installed. Water softeners take the hard minerals, such as calcium out of your water and replace it with sodium (salt). Water softeners prevent build-up of minerals (scale) on the inside of pipes, fixtures, and hot water heaters. Installing a softener in your home lengthens the life of some appliances. Reduces or prevents mineral spots on glassware, which in turn can lead to less cleaning time for glass showers.
However, using your softened water on your indoor houseplants may present issues. According to an article by Utah State University "water that is run through a water softener is not recommended [for indoor house plants]. Soluble salts may build up in the potting mix, contributing to poor growth and possible toxicity. A white-crusted appearance on the surface may indicate high salt levels. To remedy this, an occasional deep rinsing with non-softened water will help flush out the salts."
Gardeningknowhow.com has also written about the effects of water softeners on plants. They explain most plants cannot tolerate high amounts of salt. The sodium in softened water actually interferes with the water balance in the plants and can kill plants by “fooling” them into thinking they have taken up more water than they have. Softened water essentially causes the plants in your garden to die of thirst." The website further explains to treat your indoor plants you can do a process called 'leaching' which was the same solution proposed by the University of Utah article. However, Gardening Know How further clarifies that leaching your plant "will also draw out nutrients and minerals that plants need to grow. This means that you need to make sure to add these nutrients and minerals back into the soil."
In the past I have periodically added liquid plant food to my watering regimen, but never thought about the effects of our water softening system on our plants. I would love to think that the water softener is the culprit behind the many deaths that have been bestowed on our houseplants, but I think I may have forgotten to water a plant or two along the way as well. Luckily almost every grocery and hardware store sells plants these days so it is easy to conspicuously replace them. Going forward though I will be using our charcoal filtered water for our indoor house plants to avoid any issues with the salt content in our main water supply.
Did you know that water softeners affected indoor plants? Do you have any indoor plant tips? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Read more at Gardening Know How: Softened Water And Plants: Using Softened Water For Watering https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/environmental/softened-water-and-plants.htm