In Gardening

The Major Benefits of Using Rice Water Fertilizer for Plants

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With the current economic issues, everybody is looking for a way to be a little more eco-conscious and wallet friendly. Plants need regular fertilizer in order to grow to their fullest potential and many people purchase ready-made mixers at the hardware store to satisfy this. But you can actually make rice water fertilizer just by using the water each time you make rice for dinner.

What is Rice Water

Rice water is the water left over after you boil rice, of any sort, to eat. Typically, this water is thrown out when homeowners drain off the water and serve the rice. But while that rice was cooking, nutrients from the rice will have leached into the water. Those nutrients can do wonders for your plants.

How do You Make Rice Water for Plants

Straining rice water

Making rice water fertilizer can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. The best way is simply to cool the water down after boiling rice and pour it on the plants that seem to need feeding the most.

Recipe for Fermented Rice Water

  1. Get a jar or pitcher that you can keep the rice water in
  2. Fill to about ¾ full with rice water from boiled rice
  3. Mix in 1 teaspoon sugar and 4 Tablespoon milk
  4. Cover jar and let sit for 3-4 days

Recipe for Fresh Rice Water

  1. Cook rice for you own meal
  2. Strain rice from water and place in pitcher or jar
  3. Let cool and pour on plants

Fermented vs. Fresh Rice Water

When you are trying to use rice water as both a fertilizer and a pesticide, you should use fermented rice water. The fermentation process will help to decrease the bad effects of rice water fertilizer and increase the good effects.

Is There a Difference Between White and Brown Rice Water for Plants

In terms of using rice water in your plants, there really isn’t that much of a difference between using white rice or brown rice. 

The biggest difference is that brown rice has more protein and carbohydrates in it. This means that problems such as overwhelming plants and feeding pests will be increased when using brown rice as a source for rice water fertilizer.

How to Use Rice Water as a Pesticide

Rice water has the benefit of feeding the good bacteria in the soil which will help them to outcompete the bad bacteria easier. Rice water also tends to produce an odor that will help to ward off larger pests like snakes.

What are the Benefits of Rice Water

soil bacteria

The primary benefit of rice water is actually to help the bacteria in the soil around the plant. By feeding the beneficial bacteria the carbohydrates and proteins they need, these good bacteria can break down nutrients for the plant.

How Does Rice Water Affect Plants

Rice water will strengthen plant roots by increasing the number of mycorrhizal fungi in the soil and roots of the plant. These fungi, in particular, help the plant to break down nutrients and absorb them.

What Plants Should You Use Rice Water On

Rice water fertilizer has virtually no usable NPK nutrients so it won’t work like a traditional fertilizer. This means that rice water is an excellent option for plants that need help strengthening roots more than nutrients to grow their foliage.

What are the Problems with Rice Water Fertilizer

As with most things, there are both benefits and problems with using rice water fertilizer on your plants. Sadly, the problems are numerous.

Dying plant
  • Overwhelm plants with too many starches and proteins in the soil
  • Feed bad bacteria
  • Attract small pests such as insects and spiders
  • Bad smell

Plants can easily become overwhelmed with the complex starches and proteins in the soil from using rice water fertilizer because they can’t absorb them. These larger molecules can also keep the roots from absorbing the nutrients the plants need.

Rice water fertilizer can feed the bad bacteria just as easily as the good bacteria in the soil. This could eventually kill the plant if the wrong bacteria attacks it.

Rice water will also produce a starchy, bad odor as it ferments in the soil. This odor not only annoys the gardener but could also attract small pests such as spiders and ants that are incredibly frustrating to get rid of.

How Often Should You Use Rice Water on Your Plants

Rice water fertilizer can be used on your plants every once in a while, once a month to about once a week, but shouldn’t be used every day. It will result in too many problems with bad bacteria, pests, and starch build up.

Is Rice Water Good for Plants Every Day

Straight rice water should not be used on your plants every day. But if you dilute the rice water with plain water, you can use it more frequently. For example, you can put a couple of tablespoons in a pint of water that you use to spray on your plants daily.

How do You Use Rice Water as Fertilizer

Misting rice water

The easiest way to use rice water to fertilize your plants is to pour it onto your plants once it cools down. Water your plants with the same amount of rice water as you would regular water.

For the best use of rice water fertilizer, add a little bit of rice water to your regular water so that your plant can get a little bit at a time. This is especially good to add to your misting water. This way, most of the disadvantages of using rice water will be reduced.

Can You use Rice Water on Succulents

Rice water can be used on succulents but it should be used sparingly. Once or twice a year, water your succulent with half rice water and half plain water. 

Succulents should be watered with the flood and dry method which means that they should be watered a lot all at once and then left dry until the soil is completely dry. Because of this, you could use up to a gallon of rice water fertilizer depending on the number of succulents you water.

Can Rice Water Kill Plants

Rice water can easily kill plants if it is used too much. Keep a close eye on your plants and look for any yellowing or signs of root rot. Especially if plants seem to be getting mushy or discolored at the base of the leaves, stop using the rice water fertilizer.


Rice water can be an excellent addition to your plant watering routine. It can help your plant to grow stronger roots and even help the bacteria in the soil to provide your plant with more nutrients. If you do consider using rice water fertilizer just make sure that you don’t overdo it or you could kill you plant.