Is Rice Water Good for Plants?

by | Last updated May 3, 2022

How to Make Rice Water

An extremely simple kitchen byproduct – rice water has its use in gardening for the fertilization of plants. With sufficient nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, it begs the question – Is Rice Water Good for Plants? Turns out the use of rice water is better than tap water to help plants grow at a faster rate and also promotes overall plant health. Rice is a common grain in many households, and rice water can be easily obtained from your weekly cooking routine. Read on to know how to make it and its benefits on plants.

How to Make Rice Water For Plants

is rice water good for plants?
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Since this is a byproduct, you could use the water from the washing and cooking of rice. Here are three ways to do it:

  • Washing: Rice is typically washed about 2-3 times with clean water. The milky white water obtained by washing rice contains eroded protein, phosphorous, and vitamin B1; these are beneficial to plants.
  • Soaking: Suppose you forgot to keep the rice-washed water. You could just take a bowl and soak the rice in some water for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Boiling: The water that remains after boiling rice for about 30-45 minutes can be strained and used for gardening once it’s at room temperature. This water contains more nutrients than water obtained after washing.
  • Fermented Rice Water: In a jar, take rice water, one teaspoon of sugar, and four tablespoons of milk. Let this sit in the covered jar for about 3-4 days. An opaque or translucent solution will be obtained.

Using Rice Water for Houseplants

While it can be used for many plants, it’s most effective in some particular ones. However, care must be taken to avoid overwatering as it may lead to root rot and yellowing of the foliage.

For Succulents

Adding rice water to succulents provides them with vital nutrients. They typically require a small amount of water and nutrients. Misting them with a rice water solution can be done during their watering schedule.

Thinning this water would work better for misting or spraying; misting provides the benefits of rice water without the issues of overwatering. 

How to Mist Succulents with Rice Water

  1. Use a thoroughly cleaned sprayer bottle.
  2. If necessary, dilute the rice water to make it watery enough for the sprayer to expel it through its nozzle.
  3. Add the rice water into the sprayer bottle.
  4. Spraying or misting the plant should be done on top of the leaves as well as the underside.
  5. The top of the soil must also be sprayed for increased benefits.

Usually, misting in the mornings or late evenings allows the plants to absorb maximum moisture and nutrients. 

Bottom Watering

Bottom Watering
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This lets the rice water get thoroughly absorbed into the soil without leaving it in an overwatered state. With bottom watering, the entire root system of the plant absorbs the nutrients available in rice water. 

How to Bottom Water

  1. Use a flat container about two inches larger than the pot containing the plant.
  2. Place the pot into the container.
  3. Keep adding rice water to the container till the water level reaches about 1-1.5 inches high from the bottom of the pot. 
  4. Let the pot sit in this water for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Stick your finger into the soil to check if it’s moist.
  6. If the soil feels moist (not wet), remove the pot from the container. 
  7. Keep the plant aside to drain out any excess water before returning it to its usual spot.

As A Pesticide

Fermented rice water promotes healthy root growth by encouraging a good bacterial population in the soil. It can also be used as a pesticide owing to its sour alcohol-like smell that helps keep away lizards, snakes, and iguanas. Additionally, it also reduces the infestation of plants by insects like fruit flies, aphids, gnats, etc. 

It is recommended to spray rice water on plants about 2-3 times a week for best results. Prolonged use of rice water may lead to the spreading of pests such as rodents and diseases.

Benefits of Using Rice Water on Plants

This all-natural byproduct has several benefits for the soil and plants.

  • Since there are no chemicals or additives, this is a natural source of fertilizer for plants and is environment-friendly. 
  • The waste material from the kitchen (of rice usage) gets reused.
  • Owing to its fertilization properties, you won’t have to purchase additional fertilizers from the store.
  • It prevents burns that could arise with the use of inorganic, artificial, or chemical fertilizers.
  • Healthy bacterial population growth is promoted in the soil. This benefits the roots and the plants.
  • It’s an organic insecticide and pesticide.
  • The application of rice water to plants can be done by top watering, bottom watering, spraying, or misting. 
  • It boosts the overall growth of plants and also increases the production of fruit and crop.
  • The use of rice water improves the height of the plant as well as the growth of its leaves.

How The Contents of Rice Water Benefits Plants

  • Rice water has nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous that get dissolved in the soil, thus boosting the NPK content. 
    • (N) Nitrogen is present in the chlorophyll molecule responsible for the green color of leaves and plants. It’s also involved in the photosynthesis process of plants.
    • (P) Phosphorous is key to transforming sugars and starches, transferring energy, photosynthesis, and movement of nutrients within the plant.
    • (K) Potassium helps in cell reproduction and the synthesis of proteins, providing the energy for plant growth.
  • These nutrients along with the starch (carbohydrates) in rice water, aid in the fermentation and growth of most of the pre-existing bacteria in the soil. It also boosts the N2-fixing bacteria that promote photosynthesis.
  • With the increased bacterial population, additional nutrients are made available to the roots and plant with the carbohydrate breakdown.
  • The bacteria help in breaking down the organic materials in the soil into usable nutrients that promote plant growth.
  • The carbohydrates from the starch of rice water get stored in the cell membrane of plants for storing energy. Additionally, good bacteria such as lactobacilli and mycorrhizae within the soil are promoted.
  • Rice water is composed of about seven (6-8%) proteins, 30 (30-40%) crude fibers, and 15 (10-20%) free amino acids. The presence of calcium, iron, N-P-K, zinc and other vitamins are within sufficient percentages to keep plants green and safe from insects and pests.

Plants That Benefit The Most

A few indoor plants are known to show the most benefit from the use of rice water. These include:

Chinese Money Plant

chinese money plant
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This common indoor plant also benefits from the nutritional content of rice water, along with the NPK and starch that enriches the soil, making it healthy. Read more about the money plant.

Rose Bush

Houseplant Advisor Featured Image 1920 × 1080 px
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With the phosphorous, potassium, and other nutrients in rice water, this plant’s flowering gets a boost. The outcome will be healthier plants and bigger rose blooms.

Most Indoor Plants

snake plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata)
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Indoor plants like Lucky Bamboo, Snake Plant, Aloe vera, etc., also benefit from the use of rice water in moderate quantity. 

Final Thoughts

Having read about the vast benefits that rice water has for plants and your garden, don’t forget to save this water whenever you cook rice again. With all the nutrients and minerals that it offers, your plants will have healthy growth and increased flower, fruit, or crop production. 

Shelbi Clifford

Shelbi Clifford

Hi, I'm Shelbi! I am the founder of Houseplant Advisor - a blog for all things houseplants. Whether you are looking to add some green to your home or want to learn about how plants can help improve air quality in your space, Houseplant Advisor is here with the answers. Do you have any questions? Feel free to reach out and ask me anything!

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