Garden Myths Watering

Is Brita Water Safe for Plants?

Ill.: &, montage:

Question: I have a Brita water pitcher I use for improving the quality of my drinking water. Can I also use this water on my plants? 

M. Carmichael

Answer: Sure, but why would you bother? Plants are actually excellent water filterers in their own right. They take up the impurities that could be harmful to humans and actually use for their own growth. 

Brita filters and others of that type are basically composed of loose carbon granules that are very good at removing chlorine from the water and also filter out, to a much lesser degree, heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. Basically, they’re designed to make water taste better, but plants have no sense of taste … that we know of!

It has to be said that chlorine is not nearly as harmful to plants as the urban legend claims. It’s not chlorine that burns leaf tips (that condition is most often caused by dry air, insufficient watering, mineral buildup in the potting mix or very hard water) and in fact, chlorine (Cl) is an essential element plants need for their growth. 

The purpose of chlorine in tap water is to provide protection from pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa that could cause diseases in humans. The same pathogens would be filtered out and actually consumed (indirectly) by plants as the water flowed through the soil and their root system.

There are indeed some plants that don’t tolerate hard water , that it, water containing a large quantity of dissolved salts and minerals such as magnesium and calcium (carnivorous plants are the most obvious example), but water pitcher filters don’t soften water to any noticeable degree. You need to water such plants with rain water, dehumidifier water or distilled water.

So, go ahead and use your Brita water pitcher to water your houseplants, but don’t expect that to help them in any obvious way!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

9 comments on “Is Brita Water Safe for Plants?

  1. Pingback: Top 10+ Is Filtered Water Good For Plants

  2. That sounds silly, but I actually had a reader many years ago who thought here new pistache tree (outside) might appreciate Holy Water from Saint Joseph’s Cathedral. I had to explain that Holy Water is actually saline, so is therefore toxic.

  3. Hi there: I always let my tap water sit overnight before watering. I know for my large dracenas it made a big difference to their health when I started doing this. I thought that having at least some of the chlorine evaporate off was a good thing for all the plants. Am I wrong then? I’d like your thoughts please. Thanks. N.

    • Read this for more details to the end for more details:

      Essentially, if you keep the potting mix just a slight bit moister, you can use tap water without any concern.

      • Ben Zalisko

        Chemist, here. Chloride is an ion, like salt, that does not evaporate out of your water. You’re thinking of Chlorine, an oxidant, like in pools. Chlorine gas exists in equilibrium with the water (as hypochlorite, or bleach) and the air as a gas, so over time, the bleach will escape. However, that’s not really happening in tap water. When Chlorine, the ion, is in your water, it can only be removed by chemistry like water filtration. It will never evaporate on its own.

        I don’t know why letting your water sit before watering your plants would help, except perhaps getting it to room temperature so there’s no temperature shock.

      • Very interesting! I’ll have to rethink this blog article!

    • It’s not the chlorine directly harming the plant itself, but the chlorine does have a detrimental effect on the bio culture in the soil. If it kills germs harmful to humans it also kills germs beneficial to plants. Small amounts of chlorine (CI) are essential but these amounts are micro compared to the chlorine in drinking water. I prefer to leave water to stand for 24 hrs before using, to evaporate chlorine and allow other undesirable to sink to the bottom. I have however just learned that unless uv light is involved such as direct sunlight, the evaporation of chlorine will not take place. As you see im still learning. ?

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