Spring water is essentially groundwater that emerges to the surface naturally and is a perfectly good source of fresh water. The minerals in spring water make it excellent for people and hardy plants, but this isn’t the case for carnivorous plants.
You cannot water carnivorous plants with spring water because spring water typically has more minerals than these plants can handle. Instead, water your carnivorous plants with collected rainwater or pure distilled water. You can also treat your water to reduce the salts and make it less alkaline.
This article will examine what happens when you water carnivorous plants with spring water and the right kind of water for these plants. It will also explain how to treat water to use it to water carnivorous plants, so read on.
Importance of Maintaining Appropriate Water Quality
Carnivorous plants are native to soils that are acidic and poor in essential mineral nutrients like calcium and magnesium, which is likely why they adapted to become carnivorous.
Their adaptation to such conditions makes them extremely sensitive to the salts present in spring water which can also increase the alkalinity of the soil. Therefore, it is very easy for these plants to become overwhelmed by excess minerals.
If you water your carnivorous plants with spring water regularly, the minerals will build up in the soil over time. The mineral concentration leads to magnesium and calcium toxicity in plants, which affects their health and may even lead to death.
Here are a few visible symptoms of mineral toxicity in your carnivorous plants:
Visible ‘Burning’ on the Foliage
Burning refers to brown and black spots or edges present on the leaves of plants. Excess mineral concentration leads to dehydration in carnivorous plants, which presents as burnt spots or edges.
There are many reasons why a plant may stop growing. Foliage or stems that start growth but wither away or remain small may be caused due to salt buildup in the soil.
Excess salts block the pores in the roots and taint the nutrients in the soil, preventing the plant from receiving the nutrients it needs to grow.
Often caught last, root rot may indicate anything from excess watering to mineral toxicity. If you’ve been watering your carnivorous plant with mineral-rich water, then the root rot is likely due to salt buildup. The visible burning on the leaves results from roots rotting in the soil.
These symptoms will continue to spread and kill your carnivorous plant if left unaddressed.
Other Water Types & Minerals
Spring water isn’t the only culprit causing mineral toxicity in your carnivorous plants.
The mineral levels in tap water are above the recommended percentage in many counties in the USA. It is also more commonly used by home gardeners to water their plants.
Bottled water also contains concentrations of minerals that are perfectly healthy for human beings but toxic to sensitive carnivorous plants like Venus flytraps.
The Right Water for Carnivorous Plants
Spring water, bottled water, and tap water can all be ruled out when it comes to watering carnivorous plants. But what is the right kind of water?
Carnivorous plants respond well to collected rainwater, as rainwater has lower mineral concentration levels than spring water. While spring water is essentially rainwater stored in the ground that rises up naturally, it has a higher mineral concentration because it passes through many layers of soil and rock to reach the water table. Several other contaminants might enter spring water in addition to minerals.
Rainwater is also ideal because it contains nitrate, a form of nitrogen that is easiest for plants to uptake and use for their growth.
Collecting rainwater is also one of the cheapest ways of caring for your plants. You can simply set out buckets or barrels on your roof if you experience heavy rains or build a system that filters the water and directs it into a reservoir on your property.
An alternative to mineral-free water is distilled water, which is purified through evaporation and condensation. You can also find or make deionized water, which is also a good alternative to rainwater for watering your carnivorous plants.
Is Bottled Water Distilled?
Bottled water is safe to drink and can be used to water hardy plants that prefer alkaline soils, as it is often treated in some way. But is it distilled?
Not all bottled water is distilled water. Bottled water may be treated to remove pathogens but still contains minerals and salts. Distilled water, on the other hand, is purified of all contaminants, including minerals.
Typically, distilled water isn’t recommended for watering plants, as most plants benefit from trace amounts of minerals found in rainwater and groundwater.
However, it is a good idea for carnivorous plants as these plants evolved in nutrient-poor soils. They consume insects and other small organisms to meet their nutritional needs, so they don’t need additional nutrients from the water.
How to Treat Water to Make It Safe
If you live in an arid region and can’t afford to keep buying distilled water, you can treat tap water to make it suitable for watering your carnivorous plants.
Here are a few ways that you can treat water at home, including distillation:
Make Distilled Water at Home
You can easily make distilled water at home using a large stainless steel pot, a smaller pot with high sides that will float inside the first pot, and a lid.
Watch how to make distilled water here in this YouTube video:
Use a Reverse Osmosis (RO) Filter
An RO filter or a reverse osmosis filter is one of the best ways of clearing minerals from tap water. Water is forced through a membrane that keeps out contaminants like minerals and sediments, purifying the water.
Set It in the Sun or Boil It
Setting your water out in the sun allows chlorine to evaporate while the salts settle at the bottom. Boiling the water also demineralizes the water as the heat forces the salts to settle on the vessel’s sides.
However, this method is not ideal because it doesn’t fully purify the water.
You can learn more about treating water to make it safe for your carnivorous plants in the article about making tap water more like rainwater: How to Make Tap Water More Like Rainwater
Tips for Watering Carnivorous Plants Correctly
Here’s how you can water your carnivorous plants correctly to ensure that they remain healthy:
Get the Right Kind of Water
You want to ensure that the water you’re using for your carnivorous plants has a very low mineral concentration and is not alkaline.
Bottom Water Your Plants
Carnivorous plants do well when they’re allowed to sit in water and soak it up from the bottom. Allow the water to soak up into the pot through the drainage hole, then maintain about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water in the tray underneath.
Keep an eye on the soil to ensure it doesn’t get soggy. Check the soil moisture after 10 minutes using your fingers.
You should water enough to keep the soil damp, not soggy. Carnivorous plants will use the water up quickly and are less prone to root rot through overwatering. Nevertheless, it is good to be careful when watering and not add so much water that puddles form in the pot.
Keep the Soil Moist
Most carnivorous plants grow near water sources or in extremely humid areas. You can increase the humidity and slow evaporation from the soil by adding water to drip trays under the pots or in a separate tray filled with pebbles and water. However, ensure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot.
You cannot water carnivorous plants with spring water because spring water contains dissolved minerals that can lead to toxicity in these plants. However, you can use rainwater, distilled water, or deionized water instead.
You can collect rainwater, boil and condense water to distill it, or use an RO filtration system to treat your water and make it deionized for your plants.