RO Water Nutrient

shanghain1ng

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Hi guys,

I live in Shanghai, China and I don't trust my tap water at all. Rainwater is also hard to collect. So currently, I'm adjusting my water pH with citric acid and also filtering using a regular Brita filter (https://www.amazon.com/Brita-35503-Standard-Replacement-Filters/dp/B00004SU18) and a Philips faucet filter (https://www.manua.ls/philips/wp3811/specifications). I'm thinking about investing in a RO system, but understand that it filters out everything, good and bad. Almost all of my plants are planted in non-organic soil.

If I end up using RO water, what should I add back into the water aside from a low dosed, balanced fertilizer to ensure the trees get proper nutrition? Or do you guys think my current method of using filter water will suffice? I have a couple of azaleas that I don't want to eff up.

Thanks,
D
 

Paradox

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First please put your location on your profile so we dont have to remember or ask you repeatedly.

If your tap water is drinkable, it should be fine for your trees.
If you do decide to go with the RO unit, you dont need to add anything to the water per se as long as you do use a balanced fertilizer with some micro nutrients once a month during the growing season. I would not add fertilizer every time you water because that will probably be too much fertilizer
 

shanghain1ng

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First please put your location on your profile so we dont have to remember or ask you repeatedly.

If your tap water is drinkable, it should be fine for your trees.
If you do decide to go with the RO unit, you dont need to add anything to the water per se as long as you do use a balanced fertilizer with some micro nutrients once a month during the growing season. I would not add fertilizer every time you water because that will probably be too much fertilizer
Thank you for the advice. Tap water here is not drinkable, must be boiled first. hahahah
 

Bnana

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That it must be booked is no problem for the tree. That is to kill bacteria etc.
What might be an issue for azaleas is the hardness. Is it extremely hard?
The filters you have should solve that.
 

Paradox

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Due to bacteria and also heavy metals. The water supply in China is notoriously sketchy 😅
Your trees dont care about the bacteria. The metals might be a problem depending on the amount and type of metal.
 

cmeg1

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I would have to disagree with just adding a regular fert.
Ro water is is pure.It needs calmag added back into it.Then a fertilizer.Also if growing in volcanic stones I would use fertilizer every watering…(HEAVEY ON BIO STIMULANTS).
Ro water can be excellent…..lots of calmag in municipal water is too big and chunky.
Hydroponic calmag is MUCH more useable to plants.
Ro water is good because you endd up using less salts to achieve the same effect.
I highly recommend ph your water 5.5-6.5
Probably only needs a few drops.
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cmeg1

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Bnana

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Household RO devices don't work 100%. So it's not as pure as often suggested. It's unlikely that azaleas will suffer from a lack of calcium and magnesium when using RO.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Household RO devices don't work 100%. So it's not as pure as often suggested.
This is a broad statement that I would qualify by saying "depending on your RO device". The water filtration industry takes advantage of general ignorance when it comes to water cleanliness issues, and at least in the US there isn't a direct relationship between cost of filter and quality of water output. The big secret of RO filtration devices is that once you understand the various elements, you can customize your own, or quite frankly, build your own from scratch. It all depends on the quality of your source water, and how pure you want the output to be. And for the record... the downside is the rejection rate which could have you routing 2/3 of your water to a drain in order to get 1/3 output of clean water (for RO filtration alone).
 
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Bnana

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Sure there is variation but even water from a good RO system (excluding high end lab and industry versions where they work in series) will have traces of minerals. Thats why you have different levels of water in the lab, tapwater, RO or demineralised, pure and ultrapure.
Most Azalea species naturally grow in organic soil and receive rain water, they can handle low levels of calcium.
 

Cdcurnick

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I use an RO/DI system for all my plants (bonsai trees included) that outputs 0 tds water (I use it primarily for my fish tank).... At a minimum you need to add cal-mag to it otherwise it can actually remove nutrients from the trees over time.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Sure there is variation but even water from a good RO system (excluding high end lab and industry versions where they work in series) will have traces of minerals. Thats why you have different levels of water in the lab, tapwater, RO or demineralised, pure and ultrapure.
Most Azalea species naturally grow in organic soil and receive rain water, they can handle low levels of calcium.
For less than $300 I can get a 150 gallon per day RO/DI system with particulate pre-filter, carbon block filters @ 5 microns and 1 micron, quality RO unit, and DI bed. Output should be 0 TDS - or at least unmeasurable with a handheld meter. Of course, this is for drinking water, cooking and ice cubes in the kitchen, and perhaps watering house plants. To get a whole house version (1000 gallons per day) would run you about $3500.

Perhaps I misunderstood your comment, but I am responding to "it's not as pure as often suggested". When you take drinkable tap water, and then remove 99.9% of all remaining particulates, chlorine, chloramine, dissolved organics and minerals it is pretty darn pure IMHO, at least for the purposes of watering your bonsai :) Heck, here I am planning a system that is going to pump water out of the lake we live on, and use that for my trees, LOL :)
 

Bnana

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It's definitely pure enough to drink or water your plants. But that doesn't mean it contains no minerals at all. But that's what is often suggested and that is simply not true. It contains very low amounts of minerals such as calcium. Trees from acidic organise skills, such as Azaleas are very efficient in using these trace amounts. There is also very little calcium in rain water, that's what they get in the wild.

The fact that the system you describe has a DI bed kind of makes the same point. If RO removed all minerals you wouldn't need a DI bed.

Lake water is often find as well. I simply use rain or tap. But if you cannot have rainwater, do not live on a lake and tap is too hard for your trees, RO should work too.
 

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