Three common houseplants that ‘hate’ tap water – it can be ‘detrimental’ to them

Houseplants: RHS advises on watering techniques

It’s pretty safe to say that most people understand that plants need water for them to stay alive. However, water quality varies massively and can impact the health of houseplants.

Tap water is usually ok for most houseplants, but it depends on the plant and the quality of the tap water.

Tap water quality varies, and some plants can be sensitive to minerals and chemicals in tap water.

Vladan Nikolic, indoor plant expert and founder of Mr. Houseplant, told “Every houseplant enthusiast knows that proper watering is vital to plants’ health. 

“Watering your houseplants with tap water is generally acceptable, but there are some plants that hate to be watered with tap water, and using tap water can seriously harm them. 

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“Some plants are sensitive to the chemicals and minerals found in tap water, which can be detrimental to their growth and health.”

To ensure households don’t give tap water to plants that “hate” it, the expert has spoken about three of them

1. Spider plants

Spider plants are sensitive to fluoride in tap water. If it’s exposed to fluoride for a long time, a spider plant “can suffer” from brown leaf tips.

In addition to making the tips of this indoor plant brown, fluoride accumulates inside the plant and begins to affect its overall health. 

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Vladan explained: “Fluoride toxicity decreases the process of photosynthesis and damages the plant’s tissue. Eventually, the Spider Plant’s leaves will turn brown. 

“To prevent fluoride toxicity, it’s best to use rainwater or distilled water instead of tap water.”

2. Dracaenas

Dracaenas are also “sensitive to chlorine and fluoride” in tap water. For those who water their dracaena with tap water for an extended period of time it can “develop leaf chlorosis”. This can be brown spots on leaves or brown leaf tips.

The expert noted: “In the long run, the plant’s vitality will be affected negatively.”

3. Calathea 

Like the previous two plants, calatheas also “dislike tap” water due to its fluoride content. 

Watering calatheas with tap water will cause brown leaf edges and spots. The best practice for “optimal calathea health” is to water it with either rainwater or distilled water.

Vladan warned that if households have watered one of these plants with tap water and they started to show signs of fluoride toxicity, they should repot them and use distilled water or rainwater to flush out the soil. 

He instructed: “First, water your plant with several cups of distilled water. Wait a couple of minutes so the fluoride can dissolve in the soil and for the water to drain out. When the potting mix drains, repeat the process a couple of times.”

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