Succulents And Rainwater: What’s The Best Water For Succulents

succulent water
succulent water
(Image credit: Zephyr18)

Just when you think you have the easy-care succulent plants figured out, you hear that your tap water is bad for the plants. Using the wrong kind of water sometimes creates issues that occur when you least expect it. Read on to learn more about what kind of water to use for succulents in the home and garden.

Succulent Water Problems

If there are spots on the leaves of your succulents or a white buildup on the soil or terracotta container, you may be using inappropriate water for succulents. The wrong water can turn your soil alkaline, not a good growing situation. Many home growers have unknowingly caused damage to plants when watering cacti and succulents with tap water. If your tap water is from a municipal source (city water), it likely contains chlorine and fluoride, neither of which have beneficial nutrients for your plants. Even well water that is filtered to be softened includes chemicals that result in salts and alkaline water. Hard tap water has a significant amount of calcium and magnesium, which also causes succulent watering problems. Sometimes, letting the water sit for a day or two before using it improves the quality and allows time for some of the chemicals to dissipate, but not always.

Ideal Water for Succulents

The ideal pH range is below 6.5, right at 6.0 for most succulents, which is acidic. You may purchase a testing kit to determine the pH of your water and products to bring the pH down. The addition of white vinegar or citric acid crystals can lower the pH. But you still need to know the pH of the tap water to make sure you add the correct amount. You can purchase distilled water too. Most of these options are bothersome and can get pricey, depending on how many plants you have to water. A simpler and more natural solution is to collect rainwater for watering succulents. Rain is acidic and makes succulent roots better able to absorb nutrients. Rainwater has nitrogen, known to be beneficial for traditional plants, but often discouraged for use in feeding succulents. It does not appear to be a problem when found in rainwater, however. Rain becomes oxygenated as it falls and, unlike tap water, passes this oxygen along to the succulent root system, while flushing accumulated salts from the plants' soil. Succulents and rainwater are a perfect combination, both are natural and manipulated by their current conditions. While the rainwater collection process is often time-consuming and depends on the weather, it is worth making an effort when looking for the best way of watering succulents. Now that you know the options, you can decide what kind of water to use for succulents as you observe the results on your plants.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.