Can hard water kill plants?

bfreeman_sunset20(Ca 9b vta co)March 1, 2010

I just moved a few miles and to a new water district. The water is a bit worse then before. TDS avg 713. Used to average 512 at my old place. (I checked today) PH avg 7.6. Cant figure out why some potted plants are dying. Yellowing and frying of the older leaves. After the plants start gettting their fruiting and blooming fertilizer when theyre older. Potted plants are doing the worst. But cole crops in the ground stunted and purple leaves, and some annual flowers not too good either. With all the rain we're getting I doubt its the same problem Im having in the hoophouse as exposed garden plants. I always thought hard water just had salts and periodic flushing would do the trick. Thank you!

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Hard water shouldn't do that. But perhaps you have a water softener? If so, some folks incorrectly run all the water through the softener, cold water and hot.

If that's the case, either mix gypsum into your water for the plants, or put some in/on the soil or potting mix. (If you have a choice, mixed in is better than on the surface.)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 7:19PM
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I know the City of Davis is notorious for having water that kills plants--I think it's alkalinity.

Here is an article that discusses it, maybe it will sound familiar.

Carla in Sac

Here is a link that might be useful: Alkaline soil

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 1:27AM
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It could be your water is high in Boron as it is in Davis. Your water district has the information. When I worked at Saratoga Hort in Morgan Hill we also had that problem. Our only answer was to grow plants tolerant of Boron. We also had a PH problem but a water treatment took care of that. Al

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 9:59AM
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bfreeman_sunset20(Ca 9b vta co)

Hmmm my ph is alot lower. Im surprised you guys up there have that terrible water! Is it out of wells? I would think itd come straight outa one of the rivers. Or did we take it all down here to S Cal and leave you the scraps!

Actually my county is the only one down here that meets its own water needs without importing. Well I guess Eastern VTA county has to import, and I dont know Santa Barbara Cnty might meet its own needs.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 11:54AM
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How about chlorine?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 11:54AM
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daxin(z9 Bay Area)

A friend of mine just told me that she could not keep her Camellia alive in Vacaville. Since most if not all municipal water has high pH to prevent pipe erosion, I guess dissolved salts and specifically Borons in water maybe the culprit. I am surprised to hear that Saratoga Hort also used to have this problem, but it is probably because they relied on well water which is loaded with salts. Our local SFPUC water has a TDS average of 111 ppm but a pH of 8.8! However, a few tablespoons of Fish Emulsion mixed in 10 gallons of this alkaline water will lower the pH to 5 instantaneously. I have also tried throwing in peels from a few navel oranges and let them soak overnight. The pH came down to below 6 as well. So I guess high pH is easy to treat but high Boron and high salt are kind of impossible to deal with. Maybe a giant cistern to store rain water or reverse osmosis are the only solutions for growing sensitive plants.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 3:11PM
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