Water PH Alkalinity

lucky123March 26, 2014

Is water PH or alkalinity (hardness, calcium) important?
I have read that commercial potting mixes plus fertilizer are formulated to the correct PH for the plant . Therefore I have assumed that water PH 8.5+ doesn't need to be corrected as the soil and fertilizer would maintain correct PH between repotting. I believed the soil/fertilizer would neutralize the alkalinity of the water. Is that true?
However calcium/mineral deposits do accumulate on stems and on top of soil very fast. I flush the coffee pot and cooler with vinegar to dissolve deposits. Should I water regularly with water/vinegar Can I either water regularly with water/vinegar solution of 6.5(?) PH or occasionally flush out the minerals in the plants in a vinegar/ water solution (not too strong, PH range?) Should I worry about it as I repot regularly? Does anyone else have this problem? Any ideas or solutions

This post was edited by lucky123 on Wed, Mar 26, 14 at 22:06

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The soil and fertilizer is adjusted to proper pH for plants as is. Watering with any water that is not pH neutral would presumably change this over time. There is nothing in the soil that will neutralize the pH of the water.

If you are using a peat-based potting mix, it will break down becoming more acidic over time. I would suspect that the water would affect the soil more quickly than the soil break-down might be able to neutralize it. It would be an interesting experiment.

I think regular drenching and re-potting would help with the pH problem. If you want to try the vinegar, try it on a few not-so-special plants.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 8:52PM
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Linda, I have read many pages about water ph and adding vinegar but your post is the simplest and most sensible
I am going to get some test strips, test the soil and the water after it drains out of the post when I water and see exactly what is going on. As you say, it becomes more acidic with ph neutral water so how is my 8.5 ph water affecting that?
I haven't seen any problem except the calcium buildup. I might try flushing with bottled water once in a while before trying vinegar. Other than that, I suppose, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:16PM
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I might re-pot and then test every week or so. It would give you a basic idea of what is happening. I do think regular flushing and re-potting would be enough but it would be helpful to know what is happening.

If you have crusties on top of the soil, I would try to remove them before flushing rather than maybe sending them back through the soil when you flush.

And, yes, if it ain't broke!


    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:43PM
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I will repot a plant. . Then I can do the test after every watering/weekly for a while and post any results. Should be interesting.
Good idea to scrape the crust off the soil and apply a top dressing as part of flushing.. Very carefully, of course.
It may be someone else on the forum has a high PH and hard water.
It is a hard to change PH and total dissolved solids in water in a way that is safe for plants, nasty chemical involved, as I understand it.

This post was edited by lucky123 on Fri, Mar 28, 14 at 0:38

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:29AM
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perle_de_or(Zone 7)

I always put my ver hard tap water through a Brita filter. I recently learned that it is too alkaline. I have had great results since I started adding 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar to each gallon of water. I bought a simple test kit from the pet store to find out how much vinegar I needed to get the correct color on the little chart. My test kit is the kind that you add three drops of the solution to your water and it will turn either blue, yellow, or correctly will turn green.
I had some plants that were blooming all white, and since doing this they have gotten their color back. I am not too technical about this, just doing the simple test and adding the vinegar has worked for me.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 3:49PM
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My blooms turned white also. Thanks for the explanation!
Your system is good. Testing and adding vinegar works but vinegar changes the calcium temporarily to another form of calcium. There are several acids that will change calcium to a stable good kind for plants. Two acids commonly used are sulphuric and muriatic acid (Not an option, too dangerous for the small problem) Or Phosphoric acid which is in soda. I am going to look for food grade phosphoric. I have read that HD carries a masonry etching acid that is Phosphoric and Nitric? acid which some people use.
Britta filters, yes, because our water is so hard, we have used various filters for drinking and coffee water but it is one more daily chore to fill and clean and it takes up counter space. Every drop tends to disappear as dog and people water. I think adjusting small quantities of plant water would just become part of the routine, like adding fertilizer and such. No one is standing in line to drink that.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 4:06PM
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