How to Correctly Use Rice on Soil: Hulls Vs Grains

Rice Hulls

A great approach to improve the aeration and drainage of soil is by adding rice. However, in order to do so successfully, the appropriate section of the rice grain must be employed.

When applied as a mulch or blended into the soil, rice hulls can offer a protective layer for topsoil that keeps weeds and moisture loss in the garden at bay. In addition, when it is broken down by bacteria and microorganisms, it gives beneficial nutrients to the soil. When applied to potting soil, a mixture of 20 to 50 percent hull produces the greatest results.

In this post, we will discuss how to add rice to the soil to improve drainage, aeration, and soil nutrients as well as the various sections of the rice grain and their advantages and drawbacks when utilized in the soil.

What are the nutrients in Rice

A tiny edible seed called rice is grown from grain plants all around the world. It is a staple in many households and provides daily nutrition to billions of people.

The body uses this well-known staple’s protein and carbohydrate content to produce complex carbohydrates for energy, therefore it is mostly consumed for those nutrients.

The following nutrients can be found in 60 grams of brown cooked rice:

NutrientsDark Rice
energyCalories: 82
protein1.83 g
overall lipid (fat)0.65 g
carbohydrates17.05 g
total dietary fiber1.1 g
sugars overall0.16 g
calcium0.02 grams (mg)
iron0.37 mg
sodium3 mg
saturated total fatty acids0.17 g

Plants can also be grown in rice. When rice grains are added to the soil, those benefits can last until the rice is completely assimilated into the soil.

In addition, as seen in the above table, rice contains organic molecules like proteins and carbohydrates that, when oxidized, can enrich the soil with nitrogen.

To guarantee that your plant thrives even after repotting, we advise miracle gro indoor potting mix if you require a decent potting mix that includes a soil amendment.

Pro Tip –

To avoid drying out the plant, the proper portion of the rice grain (the hull) should be added to the soil.

Since it is frequently employed as a temporary solution to drain water from a phone’s circuitry after it has fallen in water, rice (the white part) is well recognized for its desiccant capabilities.

The opposite of a humectant, a desiccant is a hygroscopic substance that is used to create or maintain a condition of dryness (desiccation) in its immediate proximity. Pre-packaged desiccants are typically solids that absorb water. (Source)

According to the explanation given above, adding rice hulls to the soil can drastically lower its moisture level, which will dehydrate and stress the plant.

Parts of the Rice Grain

The hull

Before being eaten, each grain of rice must be freed from its hard outer hull, often known as the husk.

After harvest, each grain of rice has its husk removed, leaving behind the rice hull. Then, the hulls are parboiled at a temperature high enough to disinfect them.

The most advantageous to plants is this shell, particularly when utilized as mulch.

This Bran

In some forms of rice, the bran layer beneath the hull is left in place. This wholesome part of the whole grain is typically tan in color, but it can also be crimson or black depending on how pigmented the bran layers are.

Rice, White

White rice is what remains after the bran and germ layers have been removed. This area of the rice, sometimes referred to as the endosperm, is what people typically eat.

Although some people use this component of the rice grain to amend the soil, it is not advised because it might have detrimental impacts on the soil, as we will discuss later.

The Bug

The germ, or rice kernel, which is located beneath the hull, is nutrient-rich. It contributes to the color and additional nutritional benefits of rice and is rich in B vitamins, minerals, and proteins.

The Benefits of Using Rice in the Soil

One of the most environmentally friendly soil additives for enhancing drainage, water holding capacity, and aeration is rice hulls (not rice grains).

Rice hulls are the most environmentally friendly when it comes to manufacture as compared to other soil additions like perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss.

It is safe to substitute it for many other mined modifications because it is a byproduct of a very popular good (rice).

Better Drainage 

Rice can be added to the soil to improve drainage. In more compact soils, the rice grains help make openings that allow water to freely flow through and drain out of the soil.

This can aid in avoiding issues like root rot, which is brought on by fungi or wet soil.

The rice hulls, on the other hand, are also good at retaining water, so the proper amount of water is kept in the soil and is sufficient to nourish the plant.

Better Aeration

The spaces made by the rice hull in the soil not only improve drainage but also supply oxygen to the plant’s roots, which are then utilised for biological processes like photosynthesis.

Rice hulls are a particularly ecological and energy-efficient source for soil amendments, even though they might not be as effective as their mined counterparts in terms of aeration.

Helps Neutralize the Soil’s pH 

The pH of rice hulls, which is 7.0, is neutral. It can be used to counteract and lessen the effects of soil acidity and alkalinity when mixed 50/50 with soil.

Acidic soil can have a pH between 5.0 and 7.0, with 6.5 being the weakest acid range.

The pH range of alkaline soils can range from 7.0 to 10, with the weakest alkaline range being closer to the 7.0 level.

Acidic and alkaline soil can seriously injure plants because the significant pH difference can make soil nutrients useless to the plant.

This causes a range of plant deficits, some of which can cause the plant to perish.

Adds Nutrients from the Hull

The nutrients from the hull are broken down and delivered right into the soil for the plants to use.

When bacteria in the soil break down the nitrogen and carbon compounds in rice, it releases these nutrients for the plant to absorb. Rice is an organic component that contains a lot of nitrogen and carbon compounds.

Nitrogen is so important because it is a key component of chlorophyll, a substance that plants need to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars during photosynthesis.

Amazon has a perlite and vermiculite blend that is affordable for all of your potting needs. To access it, click this link.

What are the Downsides of Adding Rice Grains to Soil

Rice hulls mixed in soil

Here are a few things to bear in mind if you decide to use actual rice grains in the soil as opposed to just the hulls.

Absorbs Water

The rice grains might swell as a result of absorbing water from the soil. This is due to the grains’ ability to absorb water and act as a desiccant. The object will start to inflate and get bigger as the water is absorbed.

In addition to the rice sucking up the soil’s natural moisture, this can result in soil compaction and poor drainage.

The plant will wilt as a result of this dehydration.

Produces a Bad Smell

Per 60 grams of rice, rice grains have 1.5 to 2 grams of protein. Bacteria in the soil will eventually break down the rice’s proteins as a result of watering.

odorous gases like hydrogen sulfide are released during protein synthesis (H2S).

The smell might leave your home and the neighborhood with a really unpleasant fragrance.

Can Cause a Nitrogen Deficiency

Organic compounds’ decomposition process may cause a temporary nitrogen deficit in the soil.

When organic matter with a high carbon content, such sawdust, is added to soil, plants may become nitrogen deficient. Nitrogen is inaccessible to plants because soil organisms need all nitrogen to break down carbon sources. [Source]

In many plants, nitrogen is distributed to the leaves and plant photosynthesis is significantly reduced when there is a nitrogen deficiency.

Therefore, inadequate nitrogen levels will result in pale yellow-green leaves and poor or stunted plant growth.

Attracts Unwanted Pets

Your plants may come under unwelcome attention if you eat rice. When rice absorbs water, the aroma can resemble that of cooking rice.

This may draw ants, pets, and other wild animals to your plant.

Pets may consume soil in their pursuit of food, which could result in major health issues in addition to the mess the animals would make when rummaging through the soil.

On the effects of potting soil on dogs, we have produced a thorough article. It is visible here.

It can Sprout Rice Shoots

The incorrect rice grain can grow into a rice plant if it is used. In essence, rice is a seed. The advantages of using the rice grain hull have been covered in this article.

It can sprout into new rice plants when the full grain of rice and the husk are present.

As the new branches take nutrients from the soil to grow, this results in the main plant being deprived of nutrients.

The new rice sprouts are no longer regarded as a plant but as a weed.

Rice Hulls vs. Rice Grains

Hulls of riceBrown rice
Suitable for use as mulchAlthough it can serve as mulch, it also absorbs moisture from the soil.
Can be incorporated into soil 2 to 4 inches deep.Incorporated more thoroughly into the soil
do not release any unpleasant odors when being broken down.As it is being broken down, it releases unpleasant scents.
little or no nitrogen from the soil is taken up.As bacteria use it to break down the rice, it can momentarily result in a nitrogen shortage.
doesn’t result in sproutsSprouts can emerge and have impacts on the soil that are comparable to those of weeds.
Does not entice animals and pets to the soilbrings unwelcome attention from animals to the soil

How to Add Rice to the Soil 

Never mix cooked rice into the ground.

How to Use Rice Grains

If you do opt to utilize dry rice grains, make sure they are properly covered and hidden by incorporating them 2 to 4 inches into the top layer of soil.

Utilizing rice hull or husk

Before planting your potted plants, add 20 to 50 percent of the rice hulls to the potting soil as an amendment.

The rice hulls can also be used as a mulch, which will decompose over time and enrich the soil with essential nutrients before being topped off.

Since rice hulls are so light, they can easily be blown away by the wind when used as mulch in the garden. It is advised to apply a second layer of mulch, preferably one made of stones or wood chips.

Precautions to take if Using Rice Grains

Use mulch after addition

The rice may draw undesired attention, as was already said.

When it comes to shielding the soil and your plant from animals, covering the topsoil with stones can be helpful.

This acts as a deterrent to curious animals that could endanger the plant and themselves.

Use Sparingly

Don’t use the same 20–50% mix as with the rice hulls when utilizing rice grain in the soil.

To avoid the negative effects of having too much rice in the soil, employ a 10 to 15% combination of rice grains to soil.

Can Rice be Used as a Potting Medium?

Plants with a poor tolerance for water can be grown in pots made of rice. Due to their low water needs, succulents, air plants, and lavender are excellent candidates for growth in an all-rice potting medium.

When using rice as a potting medium, care must be taken. Despite claims to the contrary, rice may rapidly absorb water and begin to rot even though it is believed to have excellent drainage and aeration capabilities.

When using rice as a potting media, we do advise that watering be limited to misting, especially for succulents.

Only a very fine mist of water can be sprayed over the plant’s leaves while misting. The stomata, which are located on the underside of the leaves, allow the plant to absorb the water it requires.

The rice wouldn’t rot if it was misted to stop it from absorbing too much water.

For more information on how to correctly spray plants when using rice as a potting media, visit our in-depth article.

Will Rice Water Benefit the Soil?

When rice is washed before cooking, rice water is produced as a byproduct. The grains of rice will release fine rice dust throughout the washing process.

As a result, the water gains part of the rice’s nutritious properties, which can be utilized on plants in place of traditional fertilizers.

Because rice water is a gentle fertilizer that may be applied frequently, the need for inorganic fertilizers would be reduced.

As a result of the breakdown of the proteins and minerals in the residual rice water, the starches from the rice water will help promote good microbial and bacterial activity in the soil, which will add nitrogen to the soil.

Check out our in-depth article to learn how rice water can help plants.

Also, if you know what you’re doing, you can compost the leftover rice.

The Takeaway

Both as an amendment and as a mulch, rice can be applied to the soil.

Since rice is primarily a seed, there are various sections of the rice pod that can be used on the ground.

If you choose to use the white grains as opposed to the hull alone, however, there are a few safety measures that must be performed.

If used improperly, rice grains may result in shoots or even deplete the soil of nitrogen, which will negatively impact the plants.

The hulls work best as an additive and mulch for potting soil and garden soil, respectively.


Can you put rice in plant soil?

Rice can be added to the soil to improve drainage. In more compact soils, the rice grains help make openings that allow water to freely flow through and drain out of the soil.

Is rice good for potting soil?

You should incorporate 10–50% rice hulls into the potting soil for potted plants. Similar to how you would use straw, you can mulch your bedding with rice hulls. Because rice hulls are so light, they are particularly suitable for rooftop gardening and other areas where a soil amendment is needed to make the soil lighter.

Can you use rice as potting soil?

Plants with a poor tolerance for water can be grown in pots made of rice. Due to their low water needs, succulents, air plants, and lavender are excellent candidates for growth in an all-rice potting medium.

Can I use rice in my garden?

Plants can also be grown in rice. When rice grains are added to the soil, those benefits can last until the rice is completely assimilated into the soil.

Is uncooked rice good for plants?

This is another item that most people probably assume is okay to add to their compost, however it is recommended to stay away from both cooked and uncooked rice. While cooked rice might promote the growth of undesirable microorganisms, uncooked rice will draw rats to your yard. 8.