It may seem strange to save and set aside the leftover pasta water after boiling spaghetti noodles. Once you remove the pasta, the cooking water is cloudy from the release of starch within the pasta noodles. We usually dump this starchy water down the drain; however, if you save it, use the pasta water for plants in the garden.
Although pasta cooking water is an odd choice for watering plants, the water is full of beneficial nutrients plants love. After cooking pasta, the starch from the noodles breaks down in boiling water. This reaction causes pasta cooking water to become cloudy and thicken.
Despite how simple it seems to use pasta water to water plants, it’s not as straightforward as going from kitchen to garden. Continue reading for tips on using your pasta water for plant growth without harming your plants by dousing them with hot water from your stove.
Is Pasta Water Good for Plants?
After cooking, pasta water is full of vital nutrients and minerals for plants, including potassium and phosphorus, which are essential for health and plant growth. Rice water is also good for plants. Other micronutrients in pasta water include calcium, iron, and zinc. Pasta water also benefits plants by aiding in bacterial activity in your garden’s soil.
Why You Should Use Pasta Water for Plants
If you’re struggling to find natural ways to fertilize your indoor plants or plants in your garden bed, homemade pasta water fertilizer is a simple and cost-effective solution. Rather than pouring your boiled pasta water into the sink with the dirty dishes, use it as a liquid fertilizer and water your plants with it like regular water.
The main benefit of using residual pasta water is saving money on fertilizer for your plants. Additionally, as natural fertilizer, using pasta water in your garden does not come with the risk of burning your plants. When salts in fertilizer draw too much moisture from the root system and cause the roots to dry out and die and cause burning in your plants.
If you’re not big on eating pasta in your home, potatoes are high in starch, and boiling them creates potato water with the same benefits as pasta water. Stale bread dried in the oven and crushed to make fine bread crumbs provides starchy nutrients to your garden plants. These leftovers have organic nutrients for lettuce plants, tomatoes, squash, and a variety of other garden veggies.
Homemade Pasta Water Fertilizer
Because it’s best to use room temperature water on your plants, it may seem simple to rinse off your pasta noodles in cold water and use the runoff water in your garden. While this method of washing your pasta does create pasta water with starch to benefit the veggies in your garden, it is not the most effective strategy.
Washing off pasta noodles only rinses off the dust left on the noodles from the manufacturing process. Boiling pasta pulls more starch from the noodles and leaves the water with more nutrients than simply rinsing the pasta, whether you use it as organic potato fertilizer or for your beans.
Whole-grain pasta contains manganese, copper, and phosphorus, creating highly nutritious pasta water for your plants. Enriched pasta is higher in B vitamins and iron, and deciding which to use depends on the nutrients you want to add to your garden or houseplants.
If your pasta recipe requires adding salt or vegetable oil to your water, skip this step and save the seasoning for your pasta sauce. When using homemade pasta water fertilizer, adding oil or salt to your water harms your plants.
How to fertilize with pasta water? To use pasta water for your plants, allow the water to cool. Do not water from a watering can while it’s still hot, but warm water helps remove stains and pests from leaves. However, watering with warm water slows microbial activity.
Bottom Watering Houseplants with Pasta Water
Is pasta water good for plants growing in pots? Container-grown plants lose water and nutrients faster than plants grown in the garden, and bottom watering with pasta water is the perfect way to supply your plants with nutrients and moisture.
Compared to top watering, bottom watering is a method of caring for plants by supplying water to your plants, starting at their roots. Bottom watering has various benefits, as it allows your soil to absorb water uniformly without displacing new seedlings after germination.
Bottom watering leads to plants developing more robust root systems, and your plant’s soil retains the water better, resulting in less frequent watering.
Use a flat container larger than your plant’s pot to bottom water houseplants. Place your potted plant inside the container and slowly pour in your pasta water. Continue filling the container until it reaches one to two inches high on the side of the plant container.
Leave the plant in the water for at least ten minutes before checking the soil. Stick your finger into the top of the soil. If the soil feels moist, remove the plant and allow it to drain any excess water.
The downside to bottom watering your plants with pasta water is that minerals and salts in the plant’s soil accumulate in soil. Water your plants from the top every three months to prevent mineral buildup.
Benefits of Using Pasta Water in the Garden
Aside from the benefits that pasta water provides plants, the leftover water after boiling pasta is filled with microscopic starches made from the flour and egg of the pasta noodles. The advantage of using pasta water for plant soil is that the starches in the water act as food for microorganisms and bacteria in your plant’s soil.
The sugars in starch feed bacteria to help them thrive in the soil, increasing the bacteria population. Feeding bacteria is essential because more bacteria activity in the soil results in more nutrients available for your plants to absorb. Helpful bacteria also help keep your plants healthy and prevent diseases.
Although adding salt to your pasta water doesn’t benefit your plants, the sodium in salt does help with killing weeds in your garden. It’s best to use salted pasta water before you start growing plants in the garden to avoid damaging nearby plants. Roses do like eggshells and pasta water too. Re-purposing some kitchen waste products can be advantageous for your plants.
Including lemon juice in your cooked pasta water helps transport nutrients inside your plants. Lemon juice also benefits cell division growth of your plants and stimulates enzyme activity. To take advantage of lemon juice in your garden, add fresh juice to pasta water to treat new seeds.
Mix pasta water with pure water to make it easy to spray. Add one teaspoon of lemon juice to the sprayer and spritz the soil over newly planted seeds in the garden. As the seeds germinate, respray the seedlings.
If you are a composter, you can find a simple organic compost tea recipe to use as a DIY plant fertilizer or add the compost directly to the garden. There are all kinds of possibilities. Get started with composting to learn more about this beneficial gardening practice.
Using Pasta Water with Succulents
Although succulents require less water than most other plants, they still benefit from pasta water fertilizer. To avoid drowning your succulents, thin the pasta water and apply it to your plants by misting them with a spray bottle.
If you water succulents on a schedule, add spraying them with pasta water into this routine to avoid overwatering. The leaves shrivel if they receive too much water, brown, and begin to lose shape. These soft, almost translucent leaves eventually fall off after continuously receiving too much water.
Add cooled pasta water to a clean spray bottle to water succulents with pasta. If fresh pasta water is too thick with starch to spray out of the bottle, cut the pasta water with distilled water to create a half-and-half solution. Mist your succulent on the tops and bottoms of the leaves before spraying the topsoil of your succulent.
Tips for Using Pasta Water
Aside from the nutrients that pasta water provides, the pH level of pasta water is close to the pH of root membranes, making it ideal for watering your plants. Because of pasta water’s pH, the nutrients are more concentrated than in pure water, and you can use pasta water numerous times without losing its effect in the garden.
Another use for pasta water in the garden is as a fungicide. Some studies show that refrigerated pasta water reduces the presence of various fungi when used on plants.
When using or storing pasta water, ensure the water is not growing mold when using it in the garden. After cooking pasta noodles, if you leave the pasta overnight to cool, bacteria may begin to grow, and adding it to your plants may do more harm than good.
Is pasta water good for plants? Yes, the cloudy water we normally pour out greatly benefits garden plants. The nutrients leached from pasta noodles mirror those found in commercial fertilizers and make it easy to provide your plants with nutrients without spending much money.
We hope you learned how to use pasta water for plants with help from your guide and that you’ll share our tips on using homemade pasta water fertilizer with your gardening buddies on Facebook and Pinterest.