Root hairs are important sites for nutrient uptake, especially in P limiting conditions. Here we provide first insights into root hair development for the diverse root types of rice grown under different conditions, and show the first in situ images of rice root hairs in intact soil. Roots of plants grown in upland fields produced short root hairs that showed little responsiveness to P deficiency, and had a higher root hair density in the high P condition. These results were reproducible in rhizoboxes under greenhouse conditions. Synchrotron-based in situ analysis of root hairs in intact soil further confirmed this pattern of root hair formation. In contrast, plants grown in nutrient solution produced more and longer root hairs in low P conditions, but these were unequally distributed among the different root types. While nutrient solution-grown main roots had longer hairs compared to upland field-grown main roots, second order lateral roots did not form any root hairs in nutrient solution-grown plants. Furthermore, root hair formation for plants grown in flooded lowland fields revealed few similarities with those grown in nutrient solution, thus defining nutrient solution as a possible measure of maximal, but not natural root hair development. By combining root hair length and density as a measure for root hair impact on the whole soil-grown root system we show that lateral roots provided the majority of root hair surface.