Like humans, plants can get poisoned by chemicals in water. Fluorine, chlorine, phosphorus, and nitrogen are typical examples of chemicals that pollute water.
These chemicals are usually required for plant growth, but they can be toxic to plants when they’re present in too high amounts.
This article will look at six chemicals in water that can damage your plants and explain how they can cause harm.
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Chemicals in Water That Can Damage Your Plants
If you own a farm or a garden, you want to watch out for things that can affect plant growth. Chemicals in water that can damage your plants include:
Tap water contains small amounts of fluoride. Fluoride is great for the teeth, and water treatment authorities add it to water sources to help prevent tooth decay.
While fluoride will have no negative effects on humans, it’s a different story for plants. When fluoride-containing tap water is used to water plants regularly, fluoride builds up in the plant tissue.
This fluoride build-up can limit photosynthesis and cause harm to plant cells. Plants begin to turn yellow or brown and develop dead regions on the margins or tips of leaves.
They become dry and brittle, their cells undergo necrosis, and the plants die off.
If your houseplants or the plants in your garden begin to display signs of fluoride poisoning, then it’s time to consider filtering your water.
Several fluoride-removing filters are available, which you can learn more about at BOS.
It’s very common to find chlorine in your water. This is because water treatment authorities remove microorganisms from water by adding chlorine to it.
If you water your plants with tap water, you might want to pay attention here.
Chlorine is a vital trace element for some plants’ nourishment, but when present in excess, it causes more harm than good.
Chlorinated water kills microorganisms that help plants grow, damaging the health of your garden soil and compost piles.
Besides killing off helpful microorganisms, heavily chlorinated water causes plant leaves to appear burnt. The affected leaves become brown with dead tissue between their veins and on their tips and margins.
Leaves become stunted and yellow and drop off from the plant prematurely.
It’s easy to detect when your water is heavily chlorinated. Chlorinated water has a powerful smell of bleach.
Phosphorus is another vital element for plant growth found in freshwater sources. But like all other chemicals, too much of it is bad for plants.
High levels of phosphorus can get in your water if you use well water in a rural area, where there are a lot of farms.
Agricultural run-off from these farms can get into well water and contaminate your soil.
Phosphorus build-up in soils causes gardens, pastures, and lawns to grow slowly or die entirely.
Plants might have all other nutrients required for growth, but excessive phosphorus chokes them up and prevents them from taking up other nutrients (particularly iron and zinc).
Like phosphorus, nitrogen also gets in soil and water from agricultural run-off. Nitrogen is a key element needed in plant growth.
It helps to produce chlorophyll, a pigment in plants that absorbs sunlight for photosynthesis. However, plants are harmed instead of nourished when nitrogen levels are too high.
Excess nitrogen poisons plants by starving them of other nutrients and drawing water away from them. The plants become dry, and the leaves turn brown or yellow and start to wilt.
The plant’s roots are also affected; they become loose and unstable in the soil, and if the plant is tall enough, they may blow over in strong winds.
Weak plant roots also attract disease-causing microorganisms from the soil, and these organisms destroy the plants even further.
Sodium can cause severe damage to plants. When there is a high concentration of dissolved sodium in the soil, the plants cannot access other essential minerals.
If you use a water softener at home, there’s a high chance that your water contains a lot of sodium.
Plants are also exposed to sodium during the winter when road salt is applied to the roadway to melt ice and snow.
Salt spray from the passing cars land on plants, exposing them to sodium poisoning. The side of the plants facing the road or sidewalk is more likely to show needle or leaf browning, bud death, and dying branches.
If you use lead pipes in your home, then there’s every chance that your water is lead-contaminated.
Lead is a notorious heavy metal contaminant that has no role in plant growth, and is poisonous to plants even in small amounts.
Lead interferes with a plant’s ability to carry out photosynthesis, prevents plants from taking on other nutrients, and destroys the plant structure.
Plants grow poorly when they are watered with lead-contaminated water or grow on contaminated soil. They show signs of stunted growth, and their roots take on a sickly black color.
It’s Not the End
As a gardener, waking up to a dying garden is beyond horrifying. However, if your plants show the signs of chemical poisoning explained in this article, there’s no need to panic.
This isn’t the end of your garden. You can protect your plants and stop the damage by flushing the area and watering your plants with filtered water.
Doing this will protect your garden from further damage and revitalize your plants.