Should You Be Giving Your Plants Pasta Water? We Talked to an Expert

The TikTok hack is making the rounds in the plant community

woman watering her plants

Getty Images / Ryan J Lane

Open TikTok now, and one of the main content categories you'll find is hacks. There's a hack for everything it seems. Some are helpful, and others make zero sense (but are still really fun to watch). And when it comes to plants, there are a million hacks.

One is the pasta water hack for plant growth. Nicole Larson demonstrates it using the unsalted drained water from her boxed mac and cheese and waters her plants with it. Watch her TikTok post below:

In her TikTok, Larson references the Facebook post that inspired her video. It basically said the pasta water hack helped a Fiddle-leaf fig push out seven massive new leaves in three weeks. Larson later shows her beautiful Monstera that had been previously pasta-watered. She says its new leaves are larger and have more fenestrations.

Amazing, right? But we were already skeptical—no fertilizer we've seen will make your plant start magically growing more after a single use. But we are keeping an open mind.

Pasta maker Barillo thinks there's something to it. "The starchy H20 provides beneficial nutrients that help plants grow,” an article on its site says.

Sure, Barillo.

We needed proof, so we reached out to Larson to get more details about her experience and to a plant expert to find out if this is something we are safe to try with our plant collections.

There's More to Larson's TikTok Pasta Watering

Larson told us that the large Monstera had been watered about five times with pasta water over the last year. In the TikTok, you'll notice she adds filtered water to the pasta water to dilute it. She also told us she hasn't completely abandoned traditional plant-care techniques.

“I still use normal fertilizer during the growing season, but it’s fun to feed your plants in other ways and it’s a good way to practice being sustainable with your plants," Larson said.

So she's using the unsalted pasta water as a supplement. And it's not killing her plants, it seems.

An Expert's Opinion

Plant expert Jane Perrone seems to think using pasta water isn't really worth trying. “It's far better to use a proprietary fertiliser designed for houseplants or even specific types of houseplants such as cacti or orchids" said Perrone, host of the popular houseplant podcast On the Ledge and former gardening editor/current freelance contributor at The Guardian.

"This means the nutrients you are delivering to your plants are the ones they need to grow," she said. But what about water with pasta water specifically?

"Pasta water probably won't kill your plants (although salted pasta water will)," said Perrone, who is crowdfunding the book, Legends of the Leaf. "But it isn't a substitute for fertilising during the growing season."

Case closed. Let’s stick to normal fertilizer, folks. There are plenty of natural fertilizers are available if you’re not interested in purchasing one. You can also buy some organic ones from your favorite plant shop. In fact, why not speak to someone at your local garden center and find one that will work for your plants and your environment.