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Hard water is water with high mineral/salt content. I'm told that a potted plant watered with a salt solution dries out sooner or later. Is this true?

If so, would a plant survive if watered using hard-water?

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It would depend on the content of the hard-water. If the water contained heavier metals like lead or radioactive elements like tritium (Hydrogen-3), the plant would most likely die. Most land plants cannot survive when watered with massive amounts of salt water as the salt would absorb the water from the leaves.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, I do not understand. Do you mean the flow would be backwards out of the root - or would the salt in the water accumulate at some location/s within the plant and absorb the fluid locally? $\endgroup$
    – Everyone
    Jul 24, 2012 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ The salt in the leaves would accumulate like any other mineral would. However, the salt would attract the water molecules to them and prevent them from carrying out their job (transporting other nutrients throughout the leaves and stem), thus robbing the plant of necessary nutrients like phosphate and nitrogen. Does that answer your question? I'm not an expert on herbology unfortunately. $\endgroup$
    – ParaChase
    Jul 24, 2012 at 12:53
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Hard water normally refers to water with high concentrations of dissolved calcium or magnesium and consequently has a slightly alkaline pH. Plants which are adapted to growing on limestone or similar alkaline substrates (calcicoles) will be fine with hard water, whereas those plants which are specific to acidic soils (e.g. carnivorous plants) will likely die slowly.

Tap water contains chlorides and fluorides and many hard tap waters contain high levels of calcium making it too alkaline for carnivorous plants.

Most plants are tolerant of a fairly wide range of pH and mineral levels and will cope fine with hard water.

Salt water is another issue and again depends on the plant. Most plants will eventually be killed by a buildup of salts in the soil and the plant tissue but halophytes (around 2% of all plants species) from coastal and desert environments can handle high levels of salt.

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