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RO Wastewater for Gardening: Suitable Plant Varieities?

In my home, 4L & 5L R.O. systems are used, and 80% waste water produce by System.  I checked T.D.S. of waste water, 1790 ppm. Now I would like to use this waste water for growing plants at home. Could you suggest a few varieties that would be able to thrive at this level of TDS.

Sandip P.Vyas




Dear Sandip P.Vyas,

The following three plants are worth trying:
1. Rhizophora racemosa.
2. Avicennia Africana
3. Nypa Fruticans - Palm


Ashok Ghosh
Professor Incharge
Department of Environment and Water Management
A.N.College, Patna-800013, Bihar


Dear Sandip P.Vyas,

The TDS of 1790 is not too high. In fact, ground water at many parts of Delhi exceeds this TDS and there is ample plant growth in these areas. Go ahead and use whatever you wish to grow.

In fact, i have found that flowers grow equally well at this TDS. We have RO at our society and the inlet TDS is 1100 mg/l. The reject water is about 2000 TDS and is used in gardening with no problem whatsoever. Problems in reject water for plants occur when they are excessive in certain minerals like calcium and nitrogen.


Taral Kumar
Executive Director
Akar Impex Pvt. Ltd.
E-9, Sector 6, Noida
Uttar Pradesh


Dear Sandip P.Vyas,

Really it would be most difficult to say whether this water can be used for plants, not knowing what it contains. Normally it should not be a problem, even if it contains pesticides or similar organics. Heavy metals could be a problem.

The best I can say at this stage is that you can try using it and hopefully the plants should do well. Maybe he can just try out a small part of the refuse on any single plant and observe the results. I have been using the refuse water from my R.O. system for last several years for watering my plants, but with no ill effects.


Keshav Agarwal
Technical Consultant
Biotech Services
Noida, UP 201301


Dear Sandip P.Vyas,

The cell of plant roots absorbs water as a result of the differences in osmotic pressure between the cell contents and the surrounding soil water. Whenever salinity of the soil solution is near to or greater than that of the cell content, plants are unable to take up sufficient water for growth.

Here, TDS of 1790 mg/l is not very high. You can try normal plants. But for higher TDS, Ornamental Plants can be tried. Examples are: Cotoneaster horizontalis, Photinier fraseri, Azalea sp. etc


Dr Arunabha Majumder
Indian Water Works Association (IWWA)


Dear Sandip P.Vyas,

Too much TDS can reduce or prohibit crop production while too little can reduce water infiltration which indirectly affects the crop. TDS or EC is the measure of salt concentration for irrigation water. Usual range in irrigation for TDS is 0-2000 mg/l. Therefore the TDS up to 2000 mg/l seems ok for all types of plants. Banana is one such plant that can thrive on these levels.

Prakash Kumar
Ecosan Consultant
EcoSanRes Program
Stockholm Environment Institute


Dear Sandip P.Vyas,

I have perused the responses given by other resource persons to your question which are very apt, and has given the insight and guidance for selection of plants etc.

Having done some projects on waste-water remediation using natural methods, one simple method which can be applied for remediation of a little excess TDS/ salts in water is to use phyto-remediation i.e usage of plants, i.e in the upstream areas plan and have sacrificial plants/ foliage doing root-zone treatment using reeds variety plants and gravel as filters i.e typha, juncus, schoenoplectus, and general name-phragmites. Then in the down stream most plants can be grown and nursed.
For any specific data, please feel free to be in touch with us.

With wellwishes from VigyanVijay,

Er. Ajit Seshadri
Head-Environmental Wing
The Vigyan Vijay Foundation
H-2/2-5, Mahavir Enclave,
Palam Dabri Road,
New Delhi-110 045

7. How can we use the reject water from RO filter

Dear Sir/madam,

Does the reject water from R.O. contain harful viruses and bacteria or are they killed in R.O. machine?  Where can we use this other than for watering plants? Kindly help

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