QUESTION: What’s the deal with using rice water on plants? Does it really work and is it safe to use? – Reese J
JENNIFER POINDEXTER AT GARDENING CHANNEL REPLIES: Rice water is an easy and affordable way to fertilize your plants. The attraction to this fertilization method is that it helps with plant growth and production. It’s just a tiny amount though! One study calculated that it “contained N, P, and K nutrients at 0.04, 0.028, and 0.1%, respectively.”
Rice water contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Plus, it also has magnesium, iron, calcium, and sulfur.
Sulfur is an important nutrient for plants to have because it helps them produce vitamin B. In turn, this helps them become resistant to a variety of diseases in their growing location.
Another benefit of rice water is that it contains starch. This feeds the good bacteria in a gardening space which feeds into the overall health of the location.
Now that you understand the benefits of using rice water on your plants, let’s discuss how to make it. There are two methods for creating rice water.
The first option is to rinse your rice prior to cooking. Save the water where the rice is rinsed and use this for watering your plants.
Another option is to save water from boiling rice. Allow it to cool to avoid damaging your plants, then use it for watering.
This second option is thought to be the best because boiling extracts more nutrients. You may also allow the water to sit for a couple of days.
When it begins to bubble, the water has fermented. Then you may use it to water your plants. Fermented rice water is thought to be even better because it not only adds to the good bacteria but it kills bad bacteria in the soil.
If you aren’t someone who eats a lot of rice, you may also use the water from boiling pasta in the same ways as described above. It should have a similar impact on your plants.
We’ve discussed the benefits and how to make rice water, now we need to discuss the frequency in which this fertilizing method should be used and any potential risks.
When using rice water as a fertilizer, it should only be done one time per month. If you have succulents, only mist them with this type of water.
However, all other plants may be watered as usual when using rice water.
The drawbacks to using rice water on your plants are that it can attract pests to your plants and if the water contains too much starch, it could lead to root rot.
The largest drawback to this method of watering is that starch is good for feeding all bacteria, not only the good.
Therefore, if you utilize this method for fertilizing, I’d highly recommend fermenting your rice water to discourage the growth of bad bacteria in your soil.
You now know how to make rice water, the pros to this type of fertilizer, as well as the drawbacks. Weigh the benefits and risks to this style of fertilizing and decide if it’s a good fit for you and your plants.
If so, enjoy an inexpensive fertilizer option that also allows you to utilize something around your home which typically gets poured down the drain. Hopefully, this version of upcycling can help you create beautiful plants while saving money in the process.