Is rice water good for plants? Don’t throw away that water when rinsing your rice before cooking it. It’s full of nutrients that can be super good for your plants.
This article shares tips, information, and resources to help you make the most of this free kitchen byproduct to grow healthy, thriving plants.
Rice Water & Plants Q&A
1. How Does Rice Water Help Plants Grow?
Rice water provides a healthy dose of carbohydrates, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals for plants and helps promote a healthy population of beneficial bacteria (lactobacilli and macrorrhiza).
For this reason, using rice water feeds your plants and helps improve the quality of your soil by supporting beneficial bacteria.
2. What Nutrients Does Rice Water Contain?
Rice water contains small amounts of all nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth.
- Nitrogen – helps promote chlorophyll production and photosynthesis for healthy leaf growth and vibrant green color.
- Phosphorous – supports the process of photosynthesis, the processing of starches and sugars, and the transfer of energy throughout the plant.
- Potassium – encourages protein synthesis and cell production for healthy plant growth.
3. What Are The Benefits Of Using Rice Water As A Supplement For Plants?
Rice water is all-natural and environmentally friendly. It is a free product that makes good use of water and nutrients that you might otherwise wash down the drain.
Not only is it an effective nutrient for plants, it’s safe because it does not cause the root to burn like some chemical fertilizers.
4. How Do You Make Rice Water?
You can simply use the water from rinsing rice or for a more concentrated treatment.
Here’s what you need to do:
- You can boil a small amount of rice in a large amount of water (e.g., ½ cup of rice in 2 cups),
- Allow the water to cool completely, and then strain out the rice.
- Next, pour the rice water from one container to another at about 2’ feet height to aerate it before watering your plants.
If you don’t want to boil the rice, you can simply soak it for 45 minutes or so and then strain it for immediate use.
This water would not contain as many nutrients as boiled rice water.
5. What Can You Do With Boiled Or Soaked Rice After Making Rice Water?
You have several options, such as:
- Toss boiled rice into a smoothie.
- You can use soaked or boiled rice in soup.
- Put it into your compost bin.
If you don’t have a use for it now, put it into a small freezer container and keep it until the next time you make soup or some other dish that could benefit from a small amount of cooked rice.
6. What Kind Of Rice Is Best For Making Rice Water?
There are wide varieties of rice, and any would do. However, plain white rice is the thriftiest for this purpose and will work just fine.
The processing involved in producing white rice removes the fiber (hull and bran), which may be used as organic matter to enrich the soil but are of no use in rice water, and leaves the germ, which contains most of the nutrients. (source)
7. How Do You Use Rice Water?
Feeding your plants with rice water is as easy as watering.
Use the soak and dry watering method to bottom water your plants with rice or pour rice water through the sharply draining substrate.
Never leave any plant sitting in water (rice or otherwise). Just water thoroughly, allow excess to run off, and wait until the substrate is nearly dry before watering again.
You can also apply rice water as a foliar spray that lets plants take in their nutrients through the leaves.
TIP: For orchids or other plants kept in water culture, drop a pinch of rice into the water the day before you plan to change it out.
Allow the rice to soak in the plant water for no more than 24 hours before changing the water completely.
You will likely see a little growth burst within a day or two of this treatment.
8. What Plants Like Rice Water?
All plants can benefit from the use of rice water. Generally speaking, succulents will respond well to misting with rice water.
Houseplants will enjoy regular watering with the concoction, and garden plants can benefit from applying a strong solution directly to the soil with a watering can or a sprayer.
9. Should You Use Rice Water Every Time You Water?
This really depends on the strength of the solution.
For example, if you simply rinse your rice before cooking and want to use that water for watering, you can use it any time. However, it is a weak solution.
If you soak the rice for 45 minutes, the solution is a bit stronger, and you may wish only to use it once a month or so.
If you boil the rice, allow the water to cool, and then strain out the cooked rice, that’s a fairly strong solution.
But, again, use this at the beginning of your plants’ growing season to promote vigorous growth.
10. What Problems Can Arise With Rice Water Use?
Rice water will not hurt your plants, but you must exercise self-restraint to avoid damage.
Always allow boiled rice water to cool completely before using it to avoid harming your plants and the friendly fauna in the soil.
Be careful not to overwater. Rice water is good, but it is still possible to have too much of a good thing.
11. Why Is Fermented Rice Water Sometimes Recommended For Plants?
Fermented rice water can be used as a natural pesticide.
The sour scent of it, along with the alcohol content, repels a wide variety of plant pests, such as:
- Flea beetles
- Fruit flies
- Plant lice
It may also keep some reptiles (e.g., various lizards and iguanas, snakes, and the like) out of your garden.
This can be a good thing or a bad thing since many reptiles are beneficial garden denizens.
12. How Do You Ferment Rice Water?
- A quart of prepared rice water (boiled is best).
- A quart jar with a lid.
- 1 teaspoonful of sugar
Here’s what to do:
- First, mix everything up in the jar.
- Then, put the lid on loosely.
- Set the jar in a shady place at room temperature and leave it for about 4 days.
- When you check on it, you’ll see that the solids have settled to the bottom and the majority of the liquid is clear. This clear liquid is what you want to use as a pest repellent spray.
- Pour it carefully into a spray bottle, leaving any solids in the bottom of the quart jar.
- Spray your plants as needed to repel pests.