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  #1  
Unread 01-09-2012, 05:43 PM
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Default Well water vs city water

I sometimes help my parents with their orchids. The orchids just have not been doing well. They all seem to die slowly, and I am begining to think it is the water. My parents water the orchids with well water. When they first got the house, the well water was so acidic it was leaching copper off the pipes, so they installed an acid neutralizer which adds something basic (sodium bicarb?) to their water. I water my own orchids with city water and they are all doing well. My parents and I have very similar orchids and lighting set-ups. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with well water or acid neutralizers. I also wonder if my parents just need a water filter, or if they should just get a reverse osmosis set-up.
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  #2  
Unread 01-09-2012, 06:30 PM
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I looked up acid neutralizers, and there are 2 types, assuming I'm not wrong: One that adds calcium-magnesium to the water to raise the pH, and another system which adds sodium carbonate, so basically a water softener system. The first one is fine for orchids, the second one is not. Too much sodium literally poisons the orchids. At high level is becomes toxic to most plants.

You need to find out what system your parents use, ad if it's the sodium version, they need to use another water source for the orchids ASAP. Do you know the pH and general quality of the well water before treatment? It may actually be good for the orchids, the ideal pH range is 5.5-6.5
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  #3  
Unread 01-09-2012, 06:33 PM
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You should get an analysis of the water for conductivity and total dissolved solids to decide if you need RO.

A water filter will do little or nothing to improve the suitability of the water for orchids. RO is the cure-all but even if you are going to use RO you should still get an analysis of the water for total dissolved solids and pH to decide how to operate the RO system.
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  #4  
Unread 01-09-2012, 10:09 PM
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My well water has a pH of 4.7 (nobody is going to suffer from a copper shortage here!), so we inject potassium carbonate solution to neutralize it.

Orchids watered with it also slowly declined, but those in the greenhouse, receiving RO plus MSU, have no such issues (of course, they are also in GH conditions).

I have recently begun participating in a low-K fertilizer study, with others noting similar effects. A little reading has shown that epiphytes appear to handle potassium differently than do terrestrials, whatever that means.


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  #5  
Unread 01-09-2012, 10:30 PM
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We have a water softner and thus I cannot use the water for my plants. I use water fromy dehumidifier, distilled water and rain/snow (at room temp).
Leafmite
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  #6  
Unread 01-09-2012, 11:19 PM
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Sort of off topic but not by much, can you use rain water that collects off an asphalt shingle roof?
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Unread 01-10-2012, 06:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bballr4567 View Post
Sort of off topic but not by much, can you use rain water that collects off an asphalt shingle roof?
That's pretty much all I use except in the dead of winter when everythings frozen(except this year).

Bill
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Unread 01-10-2012, 06:46 PM
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Thanks for all the advice. I think I am going to suggest my parents get a rain barrel and see how collecting rain water goes. We certainly get enough rain here.
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Unread 01-14-2012, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bballr4567 View Post
Sort of off topic but not by much, can you use rain water that collects off an asphalt shingle roof?
Yes, but the trick is to wait for the roof to clean off before starting to collect water. I did this for years with a collection of about 300 orchids grown under lights. Collected the rainwater in a large galvinized washtub put under the downspout after removing the lower elbow. When the tub was full I pumped the collected water into several large fiberglass sump tanks that I keep in the garage. In the winter if the water froze I just chipped off chunks and let them thaw overnight indoors. Unless you live in a part of the country with an acid rain problem this is the best free water for orchids.

Good luck!
Paphluvr
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  #10  
Unread 01-16-2012, 12:31 PM
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I live in the country and I use the hard well water from outside spouts with no problems. I do not ever use the water from inside which is softened. I also try to water with melted snow, rain water, or water from a dehumidifier whenever I can.

I am thinking about getting a rain barrel. All the roofs around my place are metal. Is it all right to collect rain from metal roofs?
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