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 Which water is best ?

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WendyW



Number of posts : 15
Location : Canada
Registration date : 2008-07-20

PostSubject: Which water is best ?   Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:49 pm

All the time I have had plants around my house I have used tap water that has been allowed to sit for several days to let some of the chemicals evaporate out of it. This was for my tropicals along with any succulents I may of had . It seemed to do the trick but eventually always left that kind of whitish chalky look on top of the soil .
I had heard that using distilled water or rain water is much better for all plants. Is this true and which of those two is better? We have had a lot of rain water this summer and more to come so should I be collecting that ?
Thank you
Wendy
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Chris43
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Registration date : 2008-07-16

PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:21 pm

For cacti in general, I use rainwater, just collected in a water butt, and not filtered or treated in any way. My tapwater is quite hard, as we live in a limestone area.

I know that many Mammillarias come from places where the underlying rock/soil ha slots of limestone in it. So in theory it shouldn't matter. But using hard water also creates white deposits where the water evaporates, so can leave unsightly marks on the plants, to the extent that in some old plants there's a really white ring around the neck of the plant - which looks bad, but perhaps doesn't harm.

I use about 40 gallons a time when I water the greenhouse, which isn't a huge cost, maybe only a few pounds, but if I can use natural resources, then I will.

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WendyW



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PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:01 pm

thanks Chris, I should of started collecting the rainwater here this past spring and into summer. We have had about 3 times the usual rain fall. Wonder if that hints at what kind of snow we will be getting too hmmmm
As I don't have rain water I have began using distilled water on all my plants , trops included and so far they are all seeming to like it.
Have a good week
Wendy
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Chris43
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PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:40 am

I'm sure that'd be fine. I boil my tapwater to use for my seedlings as this destroys most of the hardness - but doesn't half fur up the kettle!

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WendyW



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Location : Canada
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PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:58 pm

Chris, I know what you mean. I love my cup of tea in the evening and boiling that hard water in the kettle. Makes for nice lime covered sides to a kettle. I think I have gone through about 5 kettles in the last 4 years .
Take care and again thanks
Wendy
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agrippa



Number of posts : 41
Location : Canada
Registration date : 2012-02-25

PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:20 pm

Rainwater is OK, but don't forget some fertilizers from time to time, if this would be the only source of moisture and food for the plants.
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Rohan41



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Registration date : 2017-10-27

PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:29 pm

I have looked at the question of limestone and other calcium sources for cacti and the effect of alkaline soils. Thinking in my parts is that the soil should be slightly acid to neutral except possibly for those that live where there is limestone and even then the preference is for gypsum which shouldn't increase PH. What relevance does this have to the question ? Well, adding limestone which is very alkaline is also acceptable and possibly preferable for certain species, but it seems the overriding thought is that rainwater, and dew are acidic, so when watering plants, regardless any alkalinity in the soil water that is not highly alkaline ( such as our local tapwater) is the way to go. First let sit or use an aquarium water conditioner to get rid of chemicals then add measures of cheap white vinegar to increase acidity. The way locals here are growing cacti is bordering on Hydroponics, mostly mineral soils, little added food, except rock minerals but regular very week feed, and watering with rain water or artificial version as described previously; would be interested in views on this from your side of the world ( i'm in Australia ).
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woltertenhoeve



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Registration date : 2009-10-01

PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:51 pm

Elton Roberts, a very experienced cactus grower from the USA, has written several times in journals about the positive effect of acidifying the water.
On internet you can find some examples, see the following links:
http://ralph.cs.cf.ac.uk/Cacti/Cactus%20and%20Alkalinity.pdf
http://www.absolutelycactus.com/pages/eltons_corner/turbinicarpus_panarottoi_RH_151.html
https://centralarizonacactus.org/assets/article/growing/CACSS_Article_An_Acid_Trip_For_Your_Plants_Lee_Brownson.PDF

When a cactus grows in a limestone-rich substrate, it does not necessarily mean that it prefers to grow in such a substrate. In my opinion, it more likely means that it is to compete successfully with other plants in the limestone-rich substrate, whereas in other substrates it has too much competition to stay alive. I assume that Elton Roberts has written something similar in his articles.

Wolter ten Hoeve, The Netherlands.
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Rohan41



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PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:29 am

Thanks Wolter, yes definitely acidifying the water makes a big difference, since I have started even plants that are way overdue to repot have come to life. On the subject of limestone for a select few, yes I have heard the theory that they don't need it, but also have seen it suggested that the limestone is a growth inhibitor, which does slow the growth of plants but helps them retain their natural compact appearance. I have never added it in the past but have potted a few likely candidates yesterday with a small amount to see how it goes.
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MikeInOz



Number of posts : 12
Registration date : 2018-02-20

PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Mon Apr 02, 2018 5:32 am

There was a trial done on a couple of ferns native to alkaline habitats to determine the effects of pH on growth quality. It was found that they grew just as well at a pH of as low as 5.5 as they did at pH 7.5 provided the Calcium to magnesium ratio was at least 4. In other words you want at least 4 times the Ca as you do Mg. This suggests that you can keep the pH down but the Ca high by using gypsum (calcium sulphate) to supply the Ca rather than Limestone - raises pH, or dolomite - raises pH AND reduses the Ca/Mg ratio. I often find that the natural gypsum is more or less contaminated with calcium carbonate here but not so much to cause a big problem. You can also use small quantities of super phosphate which will supply Ca.
With the water, if you don't have access to rainwater, adding some form of acid and using an acidifying fertilizer like ammonium sulphate will acidify the medium and help dissolve away the calcium carbonates. However we need to watch that the pH does not drift down too far as this causes other problems.
If you don't use a soil or any humus in your mix the buffer capacity will (could) be very low and pH swings are much more likely. So watering, and feeding especially, should be adjusted to the 5.5 to 6.6 pH range and kept that way = hydroponics.
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Rohan41



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PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Mon Apr 02, 2018 12:33 pm

Thanks ,Mike In Oz, good info. However I do suggest testing the Gypsum in your area first. I did go down this path, having come to the conclusion a bit of Gypsum in the mix can only be a win/win. However my mix suddenly skyrocketed in PH to 8 or more. When I tested the 'Gypsum' supplied as such here in Western Australia it came in at something around 9 PH. Astounded, I enquired with 'Richro" who supplied the prodct and was asked which state I was in. When I replied ''WA' they told me that the product supplied here did have a content of limestone involved, then went on to say '' Not enough to cause an issue'. Bulldust, its basically flat out false advertising. Still looking for a quality source of Gypsum in Western Austraia, pelletised Gypsum such as I was looking for seems non existent here, maybe the building trade .
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MikeInOz



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PostSubject: Re: Which water is best ?   Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:39 am

@Rohan41
Yes it seems hard to find Gypsum here that's not contaminated with Calcium carbonate! I've tried 3 different samples and all where quite alkaline. Even the stuff that was dust free and crystalline crushed rock gypsum was the same. If you want pure calcium sulphate you might have to try the lab suppliers? It should really be quite cheap....theoretically....
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