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The Effects of Salt Water on House Plants

House plants can flourish if given the proper care. One thing people overlook when caring for their plants is the type of water they give them. One very common mistake is giving your plants water that contains too much salt. This can negatively affect the growth of your plant and in the worst case, the plant could die.


Higher concentrations of salt in the water you feed to your plants can cause wilting, speckles on the leaves, dry leaf ends or even leaf drop and it will also affect the plant growth. The plant's pot will also begin to show a white crust around the edges.


The salt in the plant soil outside of the plant cells causes water to move outside of the cells to try to equalize the concentration. This occurs through the process of osmosis. The root cells die, and if the situation is bad enough, the plant will die.

Common Mistakes

The most common mistake that people make when watering their house plants is using the water that is filtered through their water softener. While the beads of resin in the water softener capture the calcium and magnesium salts in water as part of the process, sodium is then released into the water. This sodium is more harmful for your house plants than the calcium and magnesium that were in the hard water.

Another mistake people make is boiling the water to remove the salt before giving it to their plants. While this system may seem to make sense, in fact, much of the salt still remains after the water is boiled.

Watering Correctly

When you water your house plants, allow some water to drain through and then empty into the drip plate. Some water should drain through each time you water. If the drained water is absorbed back into the soil, the salts that were washed out are absorbed back into the soil. So it is very important to drain the water and not allow the pot to sit in the water. Be sure to get rid of the sitting water after it is drained.


The best solution for watering your house plants is to use rainwater or melted snow for watering your house plants. Collecting the rain in buckets and transferring it to old milk jugs, or any other container you have, works very well.

Reverse osmosis systems and deionizing systems will also work, but they are more costly. Leaching your plants every four to six months will also help remove any salt deposits. Leaching is done by pouring a lot of water on the soil and letting it drain completely. Keep the water running through the soil to wash the salts out.

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