This study was established to better understand the mechanisms of the variable radiocaesium bioavailability observed in flooded rice. Paddy topsoils (n = 9) with contrasting soil properties were collected from the Fukushima-accident affected area, spiked with 134Cs and cropped in the greenhouse with rice under flooded conditions. Soil solution was collected. As a reference to earlier work, we cropped the same paddy soils and additional grassland soils (n = 22 in total) with ryegrass under unsaturated conditions. Rice shoot 134Cs concentrations varied 110-fold among soils and were unrelated to soil solution 134Cs concentrations. However, the rice shoot 134Cs concentrations clearly increased with the soil solution 134Cs:K concentration ratio (R2 = 0.79; P <0.001). The same trend was true for ryegrass shoot 134Cs concentrations, which were, on average, 4.1-fold larger than those for flooded rice at an equal soil solution 134Cs:K ratio. Soil solution radiocaesium and K concentrations explain the radiocaesium bioavailability to flooded rice, confirming established knowledge for ryegrass. Transport modelling suggests that the overall smaller 134Cs bioavailability to flooded rice than to ryegrass in unsaturated soils is related to the smaller K uptake rate of rice, alleviating K depletion in its rhizosphere with locally higher K+, blocking the root uptake of radiocaesium.