Water quality and plants
Water quality affects many different things in our world and this includes plants. In particular, houseplants can suffer from poor water quality or from substances added into the water that we are using to provide a drink for those houseplants. There are some houseplants that are not affected very much by water quality while others are greatly affected. We might not see how they are affected, but over time, it adds up in the soil that our houseplants sit in.
The two biggest challenges that houseplants try to overcome are chlorine and fluoride in the drinking water that we may use to water our plants. The pH of the water may also contribute to some of the problems that we may see in our houseplants.
If you are like me, you may be close to setting your houseplants outside for their summer vacation. Of course, we need to wait until the danger of frost is past (May 20 is a good day to start) and even then until we are out of May, keeping a watchful eye on the weather would be a good thing.
If you feel that your houseplant has started to suffer from something in the water or maybe you think it has to do something with the soil; you could be correct on both ideas. When we use water that has chlorine or fluoride in it to water our plants, it tends to build up in the soil. There are some telltale signs of this happening, which include the following: leaves that have green veins but the main parts of a leaf are yellow, brown tips on the leaves of plants, slow or small growth of the plant, shedding lower leaves or wilted leaves even though the soil is wet.
For the most part, chlorine doesn’t cause many problems for plants because of its chemical makeup; it doesn’t last long in soil. In fact, if your water is chlorinated, the best way to handle this type of water is to water your plants as usual but right after you are done watering, fill your water container up again in order to let it sit for a few days before use. The chlorine will dissipate from the water.
Fluoride can build up in the soil of houseplants. This is generally seen as brown tips or edges of leaves of houseplants. Salt toxicity also generates the plant to have brown tips or edges of the leaves. This, too, can be handled by approaching your watering differently.
The most sensitive plants to have chlorine or fluoride build up in the soil or other salts are: spider plant, Easter lily, dracaena, peace lily, parlor palm, prayer plant and freesia. This is because these all have long, slender leaves. These plants are particularly sensitive to fluoride.
To combat any houseplants that already are having some problem from chlorine or fluoride is to flush the soil of the houseplants with rainwater or bottled water. This will help to remove these chemicals from the soil. If the houseplant has really been showing signs of distress, repotting it in new soil would be beneficial.
You may see if you have houseplants that are placed outdoors during the summer that they seem to do better and that is because they will have regular access (hopefully) to rainwater, which also helps to flush salts and chemicals out of the soil.
The key step during the winter is to allow a container of water to sit for a few days before using it on your houseplants in order to reduce the amount of these chemicals going into the soil. It is also important to use little to no fertilizer during the winter months so that we are not adding more salts to the soil, which compounds the problem.
There are several upcoming gardening classes that are available from the Lyon County Master Gardeners. These classes are being in conjunction with the Marshall-Lyon County Library. Spring Gardening and Lawn Care will be from 10-11a.m., April 23. Kids in the Garden will be from 10-11:15 a.m. (kids ages 6-12), April 30, and Gardening in Small Spaces will be from 6-7p.m., May 19. There is no fee for any of these classes. Sign up is needed for the Kids in the Garden class and residents can sign up at the library. Classes are held at the library.
For more information on gardening, please email me at email@example.com