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Using Well Water on Plants: What you should know before use


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If you want your plants to grow strong, healthy, and look perfect, you must take care of the quality of water that you provide for them.

The quality of the water directly affects the plants’ development. Therefore, using water that is not of the quality for irrigation can cause risks of toxicity and salinity that can seriously damage your plants.

Using Well water on plants is an affordable option to provide nutrient-rich water containing minerals such as calcium and magnesium in the pH range between 6.5 and 8.0. However, Well water should first be tested to ensure that it does not contain biological or chemical contaminants that can affect the growth of plants.

Well water is considered beneficial to plants as long it is treated and cleaned from harmful chemicals. 

In this article, I will share everything regarding well water regarding how safe it is for plants, the contaminants present in it, and how it can be treated before use.

Is Well Water Safe For Plants?

Thirteen percent of Americans, some 42 million people, use a household well for their water supply.

Americans who use well water

However, when it comes to plants, one should be careful about which water is beneficial to plants and toxic or harmful. 

One of the cheapest water options for watering plants is Well water.

Well water is untreated groundwater. 

The Well is drilled into an aquifer, an underground layer of permeable rock containing water.

Well water is certainly not bad for plants if it meets a few conditions before its use. The requirements are given below:

  • It should contain the right amount of nutrients neither less, nor more. 
  • It does not contain any harmful bacteria.

We can use well water without any worries and precautions after it gets purified. 

However, if it is not gone through purification treatments, Well water can cause damage to your plants for the following reasons. 

  • There is no guarantee that it is free from deadly pathogens and harmful bacteria, which can damage the plant and affect your health.

Contaminated water can lead to many diseases both for plants and humans.

What are The Contaminants in Well Water?

If the Well water has not gone through purification, think twice before watering the plant with it. 

Both chemical and biological contaminants can be present in the Well water, which can act as a poison for your plants. 

Contaminants are the polluting substances that are responsible for making things impure.

Contaminants can be of different types, which include Chemical contaminants and biological contaminants, and more. 

A handful of chemical and biological contaminants are present in well water which is given below:

Chemical Contaminant

Chemical contaminants in well water include salts, heavy metals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, lead), human waste, and animal dung.

If you live near an industrial area, there are slight chances that your Well is chemically contaminated because many factories dump their waste underground to get rid of it.

Biological Contaminant

It includes certain bacteria, protozoa, pathogens, parasites. These microorganisms are not visible to the naked eye.

Biological contaminants can be caused when rainwater goes through contaminated soil where bacteria, protozoa are present. In this way, these microorganisms end up in the Well.

Besides these contaminants, a bulk of nitrates and nitrites are also present in well water. These are present in fertilizers, animal waste, and human sewage. 

They reach the Well water through groundwater movement.

These contaminants make the water toxic, which cannot be used either for drinking and other purposes like agriculture, watering the plants.

Watering Plants

How Can They Affect Plants?

Contaminants have a deadly effect on plants as well as humans. Contaminated water causes the plant to wilt or other toxicity problems for plants.

Many salts and chemicals, including iron, magnesium, calcium, are present in well water which is extremely dangerous to your plants.

Excessive Nitrates

If you live near any ranch or a farm, there may be excessive nitrate in your Well water, which may later cause over-fertilization if presented to plants in more than enough quantity. 

According to research done by Penn State University, nitrates in water encourage the growth of algae in the water. These algae can affect plants’ overall health and development. 

A Large Amount of Iron

Well water can, sometimes, get contaminated with an excessive amount of iron. For example, suppose your Well is deep enough. 

In that case, the well water will continuously contact underground rocks, which will result in a high level of iron in the water.

High iron intake in plants’ diet may affect the chlorophyll, cause discolored bronzing foliage, and become a reason for stunted growth. Moreover, it will turn water’s taste into metallic.

High Ratio of Calcium

Suppose the Well water is continuously in contact with calcium carbonate (limestone). In that case, the level of calcium will rise in water, and it will directly affect plants. 

Too much calcium in the water will make water alkaline by raising the pH. In addition, high levels of calcium can negatively affect the germination of seeds and lessen plant growth rate.

A High Amount of Salt

A high amount of salt stops the plant’s capacity to uptake water and essential nutrients. This will result in poor growth of the plant.

Remember, excess of anything, be it even the amount of salt in plants, can be dangerous. 

A high amount of salt can cause “salt stress” in your plants, causing growth inhibition and even death during prolonged subjection.

High Level of Magnesium

Water with high levels of Ca and Mg is called hard water. Hard water reduces the ability of a plant to absorb sufficient nutrients for its proper growth.

What are The Benefits of Using Well Water? 

One of the significant benefits of Well water is that it is cheap and readily available in bulk quantities. 

Therefore, besides tap water, Well water is one of the most affordable water available for plants.

Some plants love to quench their thirst using well water because it contains enough nutrients which a plant needs.

The water filtration through rocks that ends up in the Well can contain many essential nutrients for plants, including potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

If you have grown vegetables like sweet potatoes and radishes, well water is best for them because they require soil of pH 5.5-6.5 to grow healthy. 

Well water also contains a significant amount of beneficial microorganisms, which are not dangerous for plants’ growth and proper functioning but also help the plant grow healthy. 

This is similar to plant drainage water which you can reuse on your other plants after watering.

How To Test and Purify Well Water?

There are many ways by which you can test and purify your Well water.

Lab Test:

The simple way to test and purify Well water is to find a test lab near your area and ask them to check and purify your well water. 

They will check in at your place and inform you all about the results after doing the check-in necessary tests.

Water Purification Kit:

Another way to test and purify Well water is by yourself. You can buy a home kit from any online store or a supermarket and follow the guidelines given inside the kit.

Local Health Departments:

Or consult the local county health department or Epa (the United States Environmental Protection Agency) to do the job for you. 

Reverse Osmosis:

Another easy method used to test and purify contaminated water is Reverse Osmosis Filter. It is used to purify water with the help of a semi-permeable membrane. 

This membrane filters out undesirable and harmful particles like contaminants and sediments to make water worth using.

RO system works by pushing water through membranes to abolish the pollutants that are not visible to the naked eye. 

Reverse osmosis, aka RO, is available on any store but you can find some cost-effective kits on amazon which you can find by clicking here.

In addition, you can add chlorine to the water in a similar way that pool water is treated, to remove any biological contaminants present.

The Takeaway:

Well water should be tested once every year. If you find anything including bacteria, high content of salt, or nitrates, instantly treat it by any of the methods given above before it causes any damage to you or your plant.

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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