Using Rice Water on Plants: A Complete Guide

Rice water is a nutritional kitchen byproduct that can be used to fertilize plants and promote plant health because of the minerals and vitamins it contains.

Rice water can be used to water plants because it provides a sufficient amount of (NPK) fertilizer and minerals for plants to effectively use while promoting a healthy bacteria population. This results in healthy plant growth. It can also be applied using any method and can also ward off unwanted pests when fermented.

Rice water has many different compounds and fatty acids that give it the flavor that it’s known for. In this article, we are going to explain the benefits of using rice water on your plants, how to make your own rice water, as well as the methods of application to achieve the best results.

The Benefits of Using Rice Water on Plants

  1. Environmentally friendly Source of fertilizer for plants
  2. Easy to obtain and readily available (from everyday cooking)
  3. Allows us to reuse waste material from the kitchen.
  4. Save on the cost of purchasing Fertilizer
  5. Prevents burns associated with inorganic fertilizer application
  6. Promotes healthy bacteria population within the soil
  7. Organic method of pest control
  8. Can be applied through Top Watering, Bottom Watering or Misting.
  9. Boosts plant growth 
  10. Increases fruit and crop production

Other underutilized kitchen byproducts are banana peels and potato water. Applying this water from kitchen by-products to your plants adds the macronutrient Potassium(K), which promotes photosynthesis and water transport in plants. This saves you from buying fertilizer while organically treating plant nutrient deficiency.

I also use boiled egg water on my plants in addition to rice water and banana peels because it adds calcium to the mix. This is an essential mineral used by plants for stronger stems and leaves.

What is Rice Water?

Rice water is the water derived either from boiling or washing rice. Rice is a well-known food staple and feeds millions every day.

Many people worldwide prefer to wash their rice before it is cooked because of the processing. Some are skeptical that during processing there are the workers who walk and trample the rice with dirty shoes and work apparel before it is bagged. 

It is purely optional in my opinion. But if you think that there is some questionable handling in the way that rice products are manufactured you can also wash the rice before consumption.

Washing the rice first allows the “rice dust” from the manufacturing process to dissolve into the water.

The dust is simply whole rice grains that have been pulverized by the constant mixing and movement of the grains from the point of processing to when it reaches your home.

Rice water can also be obtained after boiling. Now, this is also an optional case where you can strain out the water from the rice after it is boiled or you can just leave it to soak back into the rice grains.

The rice water contains starches and beneficial nutrients and many people do not strain the excess water away from boiled rice for this reason.

However, the strained water after boiling rice is also beneficial to plants and it contains more nutrients than the rice water derived from only washing.

How to Make Rice Water?

You don’t have to use the rice and throw it away. Rice water can be obtained as a byproduct of your everyday cooking routine and it reduces waste by reusing the remnants of the rice from washing or soaking.

Rice water can be made from either washing the rice grains or from straining the excess water out after the rice is boiled, as previously explained.

These are the two methods commonly used for obtaining rice water

Rice water from Washing or Soaking

Soaking is one of the quickest ways to make rice water as it just entails placing the rice into some water to soak.

Use this method for obtaining rice water from washing:

  1. Use ½ cup of uncooked rice (or the quantity of rice from your cooking recipe)
  2. Place into a small bowl
  3. Add 2–3 cups of water in the bowl with the rice.
  4. Rinse the rice thoroughly for 2 – 3 minutes
  5. Leave to soak for 30 – 45 minutes
  6. After soaking stir the water to agitate and mix any settled nutrients
  7. Strain the rice water into a clean bowl

Rice water from Boiling

Use this method to obtain rice water from boiling 

  1. Take ½ cup of uncooked rice (or the quantity of rice from your cooking recipe)
  2. Place the rice in your normal rice cooking pot (not rice cooker)
  3. Stir properly
  4. Place on medium heat (350 oF)
  5. Allow to boil for 30 – 45 minutes
  6. Strain the rice and save the water residue

If the resulting residue is too thick you can also add water to thin it down for addition to your plants.

Rice water obtained from boiling would contain more nutrients than the water obtained from washing. This is because the heat from boiling causes more nutrients from the rice to be leached into the water.

How is Rice Water Beneficial for Plants?: Explained

Rice water contains a small amount of fertilizer, NPK, which are the essential nutrients needed by all plants and would have a favorable effect on any garden by accelerating plant growth and increasing crop production.

The starches in rice water also provide the plant with necessary carbohydrates that can be stored in the plant’s cell membrane until they can be used for energy while at the same time promoting helpful bacteria such as lactobacilli and mycorrhizae that can already be found to pre-exist in the soil, to thrive by providing a source of food.

The most common type of rice in the United States, white rice is long-grain rice that has been milled to remove the outer husks and the bran layers. 

Parts of the Rice Grain

The Hull

Each grain of rice is enclosed in a tough outer hull, or husk, that needs to be removed before it can be consumed. 

Rice hulls are the husks that are removed from each grain of rice after harvest. The hulls are then parboiled at a high enough heat to sterilize.

This hull is the most beneficial to plants, especially when used as a mulch. 

The Bran

Under the hull, the bran layer is not removed in all rice types. This nutritious whole grain section is usually tan-colored, but it may be reddish or black depending on the pigmentation in the bran layers.

White Rice

Once the bran and germ layers are removed, white rice remains. Known as the endosperm, this is the part of the rice that is most commonly consumed. 

Although some people use this part of the rice grain as a soil amendment, it is not recommended and can have some negative effects on the soil which we explain later on.

The Germ

Found under the hull, the germ, or rice kernel, is nutrient-dense. Full of B vitamins, minerals, and proteins, it helps give the rice its color and added nutritional benefits.

Although this may mean that the rice itself contains fewer nutrients and fiber, it is beneficial to plants as the water would still contain nutrients and minerals contained in the white parts of the grain.

The nutrients in 60 grams of cooking rice are as follows –

NutrientsBrown riceWhite rice
energy82 calories68 calories
protein1.83 g1.42 g
total lipid (fat)0.65 g0.15 g
carbohydrates17.05 g14.84 g
fiber, total dietary1.1 g0.2 g
sugars, total0.16 g0.03 g
calcium2 milligrams (mg)5 mg
iron0.37 mg0.63 mg
sodium3 mg1 mg
fatty acids, total saturated0.17 g0.04 g

Now that we’ve seen how the rice grain is made up and what it contains. Let’s see how these nutrients are beneficial to our plants.

List of key points on how rice water benefits plants – 

  • The carbohydrate compounds in rice are made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and other elements. 
  • Carbohydrates are also known as complex sugars
  • Bacteria love these sugars and they will thrive in such an environment that food is abundant.
  • Bacteria help break down organic material in the soil into usable nutrients for plants to grow
  • With an increased bacterial growth in the soil more nutrients will be made available for plants from the breakdown of these carbohydrates.
  • There is an increased nitrogen (N) along with phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and other minerals in the soil for the plant to use.
    • (N) Nitrogen is part of the chlorophyll molecule, which gives plants their green color and is involved in creating food for the plant through photosynthesis.
    • (P) Phosphorus is involved in several key plant functions, including energy transfer, photosynthesis, transformation of sugars and starches, nutrient movement within the plant
    • (K) Potassium is important for cell reproduction and protein synthesis which give plants the energy to grow.
  • The result is increased health and growth rate.

Using Rice Water with Succulents 

Rice water can be used to water succulents while adding vital nutrients at the same time. The rice water should be thinned so that it can be applied as a spray as succulents require more dry aerated soil. 

Succulents can be misted with a solution of rice water during their normal watering schedule.

Succulents require a small amount of water and nutrients at any given time. Misting succulents with rice water is a sure method of providing them with the benefits of rice water without being overwatered and causing problems associated with overwatered soil.

How to Mist Succulents with Rice Water 

  1. Any household spray bottle can be used as long as it is cleaned properly.
  2. The rice water should be thin enough for the spray bottle to expel the water
  3. Add the rice water in the spray bottle
  4. Spray or mist on the top as well as the underside of the leaves
  5. Also, spray the top soil with the rice water.

Misting should be done during the morning periods or late evenings to allow the plant to absorb moisture and nutrients. This also prevents the heat of the day from drying out the moisture too quickly.

Bottom Watering with Rice Water

Bottom watering plants with rice water is another way plants can benefit from rice water. Bottom watering will allow for the rice water to be absorbed thoroughly into the soil without having it in an overwatered state. In doing so, the total mass of the plant roots will be able to access the nutrients provided by the rice water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp