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How Is Rice Water For Plants Beneficial?

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Have you ever wondered what to do with the water left over from cooking rice? Turns out, that starchy liquid can be a secret weapon for your garden.

Welcome to the world of rice water for plants, where your kitchen scraps become a green thumb’s best friend!

Rice water isn’t just waste; it’s a natural elixir that packs a punch of nutrients plants adore. Whether you’re nurturing lush indoor plants or tending to your outdoor garden, this simple and sustainable practice can make a world of difference.

This detailed guide will explore how rice water nourishes your plants, boosts their growth, and even fends off pesky invaders. Plus, we’ll dish out tips on how to collect, store, and apply this liquid gold to keep your greenery thriving.

So, read on till the end to know the answer to the question- How is rice water for plants beneficial?

Rice Water For Plants
Rice washed water being used in kitchen gardening at Visakhapatnam – via Wikimedia

Is Rice Water For Plants Good?

Yes, rice water is good for plants as it provides plants with several benefits, which are as follows:

  • Rice water is rich in beneficial nutrients such as carbohydrates, vitamins, starch, and NPK- nitrogen, phosphorus and phosphorus, promoting plant health and growth. Carbohydrates is present in the form of complex sugars.
    • Plants absorb carbohydrates which is a source of energy and is stored in the plant’s cell membrane, promoting robust growth and overall health.
  • Fermented rice water is especially beneficial because of its lactic acid bacteria content. This lactic acid bacteria works as an organic fertilizer that enhances nutrient absorption in the garden plants by forming a symbiotic relationship with plant roots.
  • The application of rice water is versatile, fitting for outdoor and indoor plants.
  • Reusing rice water for plants is an eco-friendly and economical method to reuse waste material to nourish your plants.

What is rice water?

Rice water is the starchy liquid that results from soaking or cooking rice. Traditionally used in various cultures, this milky-white liquid is more than just a byproduct.

It is rich in beneficial nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates, which are leached from the rice grains.

It is widely accepted and used as a fertilizer for indoor and outdoor plants because it serves as a shield for your plants against typical garden and common indoor pests while enhancing soil quality and fruit and crop production. So, you don’t have to worry about buying synthetic fertilizers.

It achieves this by fostering the proliferation of advantageous microorganisms within the soil.
Beyond gardening, rice water has also gained popularity in beauty routines. Many believe it enhances hair strength and skin vitality due to its nourishing properties.

As a natural, eco-friendly solution, rice water has found its place in both the garden and the beauty shelf.

Different Methods to Make Rice Water for Plants

There are several ways to make rice water for plants, each with its unique benefits:

1- Boiled rice water

Boiled rice water is a simple and quick method to extract nutrients and a lot of starch for your plants. After cooking uncooked rice in a rice cooker or cooking pot and allowing it to boil rice to perfection, allow the leftover water to cool.

This boil rice water contains some of the nutrients that leached out during the boiling rice process. You can boil the paste in the same way.

Once it’s cooled, you can directly pour the unsalted pasta water or rice water on plants. It’s an easy way to prevent nutrient wastage while providing your plants with an extra boost of nutrition from the cooked pasta water.

2- Rice water from washing or soaking rice

To make your own rice water, this method involves collecting the water used for washing or soaking rice before cooking it. this washed rice water when rinse or soaked, some of the essential nutrients vitamin B6 and B12 from the grains are released into the rice washing water.

This rice water derived from washing rice can be saved and used to pour rice water onto your plants. It’s a sustainable way to utilize a resource that would otherwise go down the drain

3- Fermented rice water

Fermented rice water acts as a balanced fertilizer. To prepare rice water, simply collect rice water in a container, whether from boiled rice or rinsing, and leave it at room temperature after mixing four spoons of milk and a spoonful of sugar and covering the container for three or four days. 

As rice water ferments during this fermentation process, healthy bacteria population, such as lactic acid bacteria, multiply, enriching the water with even more nutrients and giving it an acidic smell.

Dilute the fermented rice water with clean water, and you have a powerful natural plant fertilizer that can significantly benefit your garden plants with essential nutrients needed to enhance plant growth and increase crop yield.

How does rice water benefits plants? – Parts of the rice grain that benefit plants

Rice water is a valuable and natural resource that benefits plants in various ways. To understand its benefits, it’s essential to delve into the different parts of the rice grain and how they contribute to plant growth and health.

  • Hull: The rice hull, the outermost layer of the rice grain, is rich in silica, which has several advantages for plants. Silica strengthens plant cell walls, making them more resistant to environmental stressors like pests, diseases, and adverse weather conditions. It also helps plants absorb nutrients more efficiently, improving overall plant growth and resilience.
  • Bran: This part of the rice grains- the bran is the layer just beneath the hull, contains nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. When rice water is made from whole grain rice, it retains a portion of these nutrients.
    • These elements serve as a natural chemical fertilizers when applied to plants, providing the necessary nourishment for growth and development.
  • White Rice: While white rice is devoid of the bran and hull, rice water made from it can still be beneficial for plants. It contains carbohydrates and some residual nutrients that plants benefit from. Additionally, the starch in white rice water can serve as a natural adhesive when applied to plant leaves, helping to trap and suffocate certain pests like aphids.
  • Rice kernel: The rice kernel is the innermost part of the grain, and while it is primarily composed of carbohydrates, it still contributes to the overall nutritional content of rice water. This carbohydrate-rich water can serve as an energy source for beneficial microorganisms in the soil, enhancing the soil’s microbial activity and, in turn, benefiting plant roots.

What Plants like rice water?

Rice water can benefit a wide range of plants due to its nutrient-rich composition. It’s particularly appreciated by rice plants themselves, as they naturally thrive in flooded fields and can greatly benefit from the nutrients in rice water. 

Additionally, many ornamental plants, including roses, lilies, and orchids, respond positively to rice water, leading to improved growth and more vibrant blooms. Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale also appreciate the organic matter and nutrients in rice water, resulting in healthier foliage. 

Herbs such as basil, mint, and cilantro tend to grow more robustly with the added nutrients. Fruit-bearing trees like citrus, apple, and fig trees can use rice water to produce healthier fruits. 

Even indoor houseplants like pothos and snake plants can thrive when rice water is used in moderation as a natural fertilizer. In vegetable gardens, vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers often benefit from the nutrients and organic matter in rice water, promoting more abundant harvests.

However, it’s essential to use rice water judiciously and dilute it with clean water to avoid over-fertilization, which can be harmful to plants.

Has anyone used rice water to water their houseplants
Has anyone used rice water to water their houseplants – via Reddit

Plants you should avoid feeding rice water

Rice water is generally not suitable for hydroponic gardening systems. Hydroponic plants rely on precisely balanced nutrient solutions, and rice water may disrupt this delicate equilibrium.

The composition of rice water, including its nutrient content, can vary widely and is not tailored to the specific needs of hydroponically grown plants.

Therefore, it’s advisable to avoid using rice water in hydroponic setups and instead stick to commercial hydroponic nutrient solutions to ensure optimal growth and health for your soil-less plants.

What type of rice is better for using on plants?

The choice of rice for making rice water is entirely flexible and can align with your culinary preferences.

Any variety of rice, whether it’s brown rice, jasmine rice, white, or basmati, can be used to prepare rice water for your plants. There’s no need to invest in a new rice type exclusively for your gardening needs.

However, it’s crucial to steer clear of rice that includes added salt or flavorings, as these additives could potentially hinder your plant’s growth or, in the worst-case scenario, result in unhealthy or deceased plants.

Watering Techniques to feed rice water to plants

Rice water is widely used in organic farming. Following are some of these techniques given:

1- Misting

Misting with rice water involves spraying a fine mist of diluted rice water onto the foliage of your plants. This method is ideal for succulent.

As the leaves absorb the nutrients, they can respond quickly to the rice water’s nourishing properties. However, it’s essential to dilute the rice water adequately to prevent the risk of leaf burn and fungal issues.

2- Bottom watering

Bottom watering is a method where you place the plant pot in a tray or saucer filled with diluted rice water. The plant absorbs water and nutrients through its roots from the bottom up. This technique allows the plant to take up the rice water as needed, preventing overwatering and ensuring efficient nutrient absorption.

3- Top Watering

Top watering involves pouring diluted rice water directly onto the soil around the plant’s base. This method provides moisture and nutrients to the roots as the water percolates down through the soil. It’s a simple and effective way to deliver rice water to your plants, particularly those with well-established root systems.

4- Soil application

For plants with extensive root systems or those planted directly in the ground, soil application is a good idea. Dig shallow trenches or create holes around the plant’s base and pour the diluted rice water into these depressions. This allows the nutrients to gradually soak into the root zone, promoting robust growth.

5- Use of fermented rice water as pesticide

As the rice water ferments it can be best to use as natural pesticide. The beneficial bacteria in it can help deter pests like plant lice, fruit flies, etc. and promotes leaf growth. You can spray plants to ward off insects or use it as a soil drench to suppress soil-borne diseases.

Mistakes to avoid when using rice water

Following are some of the points that you must take care of while using it:

1. Ensure Water is at Room Temperature: 

Using rice water that is either too hot or too cold can shock your plants. It’s crucial to allow the it to cool to room temperature before using it on your plants. Rapid temperature fluctuations can stress the roots and potentially harm your greenery.

2. Dilute the Rice Water: 

Concentrated rice water can be too rich in nutrients and may lead to fertilizer burn or nutrient imbalances. moreover, it also feed on harmful bacteria in the soil which which can damage plants.

It’s recommended to dilute the rice water by mixing it with plain water at a ratio of around 2 parts water to 1 part rice water. This ratio ensures that your plants receive a balanced and diluted nutrient solution.

3. Be Cautious While Watering Succulents: 

Succulents, known for their drought tolerance, are sensitive to overwatering. When using rice water on succulents, be extra careful not to saturate the soil. Consider bottom watering or misting to avoid excessive moisture around their roots.

4. Use Fresh Rice Water: 

Rice water can become a breeding ground for bad bacteria if left sitting for too long. when the ferments in the soil, it decomposes in the organic soil mediums and feed harmful bacteria causing root rot and other fungal diseases.

To ensure its effectiveness and safety for your plants, avoid using it that has been sitting for more than a week. If you need to store it, keep it in the refrigerator to inhibit beneficial bacteria growth and maintain its freshness.


1- How long can you keep rice water?

The leftover rice water can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. After this period, storing rice water is not advisable to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

2- Is rice water good for pothos?

Yes, rice water can benefit pothos plants. It provide plants with nutrients and can be used for watering or misting to promote healthy growth.

3- Is rice water good for all plants?

It’s generally safe for a wide range of plants, but always monitor your plants’ response to ensure they thrive.

4- How long can you keep rice water in a spray bottle?

Rice water stored in a spray bottle should be used within a week, similar to rice water in a container. Regularly cleaning and sanitizing the spray bottle can help prevent bacterial growth and maintain its effectiveness.


In conclusion, the practice of using rice water for plants is not just a clever kitchen hack; it’s a testament to nature’s wisdom and our ability to harness its secrets. As we’ve explored, rice water, whether from boiled rice, rinsing, or the magic of fermentation, offers a multitude of benefits to our green companions.

From nourishing plant roots with beneficial nutrients to strengthening their defenses against pests and diseases, rice water is a natural elixir for fostering lush, thriving gardens and indoor jungles.

So, next time you prepare rice, remember that the water you discard can be a boon for your garden, turning waste into a precious resource for plant growth and vitality.