DIY Fertilisers – How to Use Banana Peels

Published by at 4:37 pm under Frugal Gardening,Garden Maintenance

Want to save money in your garden and have healthier plants?  One of the easiest ways to do this is make your own free fertilisers with organic materials and household food waste. 

DIY Fertilisers How to Use Banana Peels to feed your plants for free | The Micro Gardener

Feed your plants for free by reusing food waste!


Tips for How You Can Reuse Bananas

Bananas are rich in minerals including:

  • Potassium – helps promote general plant vigour; helps build up resistance to pest and disease; necessary in fruit development; is involved in regulating around 50 enzymes in a plant and relates to the turgor (or uprightness of stems and the thickness of cell walls) i.e. plant strength!  This is extremely important for plants like staghorns which literally hang onto tree trunks in nature and vertical vegies like shallots, leeks and fruiting crops.


Banana bunch - reusing banana peels saves money and provides valuable organic fertiliser into your garden. Photo: Sarah Michael

Bananas are mineral rich and recycling the peels back into your garden saves money and returns these nutrients to the soil where they can benefit other plants. This is NO WASTE gardening!

  • Phosphorus – strongly influences fruiting and flowering; is essential for good root and shoot growth; pollination; and is very important in seed germination and viability.
  • Calcium – the most important mineral in the soil and known as the ‘Trucker of all minerals;’ is the ‘ingredient’ of cell walls concerned with root development and growing stem points and helps ‘open up’ soil to allow more oxygen.


With such important roles to play, these macro nutrients are vital for plant health and well-being but there are many others that are needed too so a balanced slow release organic fertiliser with other trace elements will supplement those not present in bananas.  These types of fertilisers are usually in a fine powdered or pellet form that quickly dissolve and become plant available.  These can be sprinkled directly onto the soil, slightly dug in or sprinkled into the foliage basin in the middle of plants like ferns.


Powdered organic fertilisers are available commercially and add the full complement of nutrients and trace minerals. | The Micro Gardener

Powdered organic fertilisers are available commercially and add the full complement of nutrients. Organic matter like banana peels returned to the soil helps activate microbes which in turn release the minerals into the soil so the plants can uptake them more effectively.


Seaweed or kelp liquid organic fertilisers also supply your plants with loads of macro nutrients. Kelp also helps build pest and disease resistance.  A regular monthly foliar spray (on the upper and lower side of the leaves) early morning will keep your plants in good health.  So back to the bananas!


Why Feed Banana Peels to Staghorns?


Feeding banana peels to staghorns and other ferns is not an old wives tale – there is are valid reasons why many people use this DIY fertiliser!


Staghorn fern mounted on a back board.  Photo: ProBuild Garden Center

Staghorns and elkhorns are loved by many gardeners including those with small spaces as they can be wall or tree mounted.


Staghorn and elkhorn ferns are epiphytic perennials or “air” plants.  Because they don’t make contact with the soil, they get their nutrition substantially from the air.  Quite an amazing concept!  Bananas contain a relatively high level of potassium that helps displace sodium that can be harmful to salt-sensitive staghorns and they have many other benefits too.


Staghorn wall mounted in a tiny courtyard garden. Photo: Andrew Sorensen

Staghorns are spectacular low maintenance plants that can be grown on a vertical wall in a small garden. You can feed them from time to time with DIY banana fertiliser. Find out how below.


Ways to Use Bananas as a Plant Food Supplement:


  • Banana Water:  Soak a fresh banana peel in water for a day or two – then use the water with the leached nutrients in it to water your staghorn (or other plants).  Don’t let the peel go to waste though!
  • Add Peels to your Soil or Worm Farm: Chop up peels and add to your compost, worm farm or dig it into the soil around other plants to build up the organic matter and attract worms. Lift the mulch around your pot plants and side dress as a slow release food, then replace the mulch.
Chop food waste up first to help it break down faster. I use a sharp knife and cutting board. | The Micro Gardener

TIP: The smaller you cut the pieces, the greater the surface area for microorganisms to get to work and the faster it will break down to feed your plants.

  • Chopped Dried Banana:  If your staghorn is indoors or close to the house and you are worried about the banana peel attracting fruit flies, you can dry out the chopped banana pieces in a slow oven and then use them; or put them out in the sun under a strainer to dry out for a day or two.  Scatter dried banana pieces in the centre of the plant and water them in.  You can also mix them into the moss if you are replanting or starting out with a new staghorn fern.  Each time you water or it rains, they will provide slow release nutrition.
  • Banana Peel on a Trunk or Backboard:  Put a whole banana peel between the staghorn and the backboard or tree trunk it is supported on.  By placing it in this position, the banana peel will gradually decay and slowly release nutrients when the plant is watered or it rains.


Banana peels can be soaked, dried or used whole as an organic plant fertiliser. | The Micro Gardener

Banana peels can be soaked, dried or used whole as an organic plant fertiliser.


Tips for Using Bananas as a Free Organic Fertiliser


  • If you have bananas you won’t use up (whole or just the skins), don’t waste them – freeze them!  When you have time to work on your garden, defrost the banana and add to the soil around the base of your plants.
  • Alternatively, store bananas or peels in a self-seal bag in the fridge until you are ready to use them.  Ideally, sprinkle some bokashi grains onto the chopped up peels so the breakdown process is already getting started.


Banana can be frozen in a self seal bag for later use at a time that's convenient. | The Micro Gardener

Banana peels can also be added to worm farms for microbes to dine out on; dug into the soil around plants in pots or the garden.


  • Spray the chopped up banana and/or peel with diluted seaweed or kelp – this provides additional ‘food’ for the microbes that will help break down the fruit faster so the nutrients can be absorbed by the plant.
  • Use with other homemade fertilisers such as crushed eggshells and coffee grounds for greater effect.
  • Use bananas (whole/peels) as a soil amendment.  They are a rich source of organic matter so they add valuable minerals and the decaying organic material attracts beneficial microorganisms (microbes) and earthworms which help create air pockets in the soil and add their free fertiliser (worm castings).


Bananas can be added to compost - to speed up decomposition, sprinkle with bokashi (fermented grain) or help activate the compost by spraying food scraps with a seaweed liquid fertiliser. | The Micro Gardener

Overripe bananas or peels can be added to compost. It is preferable to increase the surface area for microbes to break down by chopping up into smaller pieces first.


Hope this advice is useful and helps you get the most out of your plants and bananas!


Want to know more? Check out Frugal Gardening for more money saving tips; How to Grow Your Own Food from Seed; Harvesting Vegetables & Herbs and Garden Maintenance for more ideas.

Did you find this information helpful?  Feel free to leave a comment below.  Keep up to date with new posts by subscribing to my newsletter (and grab your free eBook) or click on the RSS feed below or to the right.


© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2010-2013 – All rights reserved.

26 responses so far

26 Responses to “DIY Fertilisers – How to Use Banana Peels”

  1. pingon 23 Jul 2011 at 12:26 am

    Thank you so much – you’ve just added my mind organically good. PING

  2. lawn maintenance Phoenixon 07 Mar 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Very interesting information about banana fertilizers shared here! Using banana peels to feed the plants are indeed helpful in assuring the healthy growth of the greenery. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  3. Judithon 09 Sep 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Hi, I was searching for info re dilution rates for banana fertilizer when I found your article. Perhaps you could include mention of potassium as a valuable addition to Hoya pots to encourage flowering and also asparagus growing, in conjunction with other fertilizers of course for asparagus.
    Thank you.

  4. The Micro Gardeneron 09 Sep 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Hi Judith
    Thanks for your tip about adding the banana fertiliser when growing Hoyas and asparagus. Compost and seaweed extract are also good sources of potassium when growing organically. I don’t actually dilute my banana fertiliser further but I’m sure you can if you want to make it go a little further. Hope this helps. 🙂

  5. Judtihon 11 Sep 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Thank you for your response to my message. BTW, I should have said first time round that your article re potassium is wonderfully informative.

  6. How to Grow Hydrangeas |on 21 Apr 2013 at 3:51 pm

    […] rock dust minerals, crusher dust, Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate), sugarcane mulch, worm castings, chopped banana peel or manure – these can all add valuable minerals and nutrients to the soil that will boost your […]

  7. Penny Pinching Peachon 25 Apr 2013 at 12:48 am

    Wow! I knew that bananas made great compost, but I didn’t know all of the reasons for it or the many ways they could be used to fertilize plants. This was extremely informative! Thanks! 🙂

  8. Bobon 03 May 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I normally use old aquarium water after a water change (liquid gold on plants and veges), but didn’t know bananas had this similar use also. Thanks!

  9. The Micro Gardeneron 05 May 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing your tip Bob – fish tank water is rich in nutrients for plants so it’s a great way to recycle them and feed your plants at the same time. 🙂

  10. 8 Homemade Organic Fertilizerson 26 May 2014 at 6:43 pm

    […] Source & Other Ideas: The Micro Gardener […]

  11. Sueon 27 May 2014 at 1:33 am

    This is a great posting – thank you! I have several plants that might benefit — 3 blueberry bushes, a saskatoon bush a climbing rose and an apple tree. My question is this: I have about 15 whole bananas that are in the freezer. I don’t have an on site compost. What would be the best way to use them in the soil — should I unthaw and bake in a slow oven then dig them in? (I am worried that if I just thaw them they will be gooey and attract squirrels, if I just bury them in the soil)

    thanks again!


  12. Anne Gibsonon 27 May 2014 at 6:58 am

    Thanks Sue. If you are worried about squirrels digging them up, why not liquify the bananas in a blender with a bit of cooking water for extra nutrients? Then pour the liquid fertiliser around your plants and cover with soil. Mulching also is a good idea and helps feed your soil.

  13. billon 21 Jun 2014 at 2:25 am

    Hi Anne

    I live in Spain and want to make my own fertiliser to promote flowers, can I cut up banana skins, put them in a 5 gallon container fill with water leave them to ferment for a month or two, and use as a fertiliser?


  14. Anne Gibsonon 23 Jun 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Hi Bill
    If you ferment the banana skins, you will end up with an anaerobic liquid (lacking oxygen). This is not ideal as anaerobic microorganisms are not what you want in your garden. If you have a good supply of banana skins, add them to a compost system with as much diversity of ingredients as possible and make a compost tea as a liquid fertiliser. Compost is a great source of soil food. You could also add chopped up skins to your worm farm – worm castings are an excellent natural fertiliser and so cheap. These are the very best sources of food for flowering plants. Remember you need to make sure your soil pH is balanced so your plants can access the nutrients. You can also add a balanced soft rock phosphate or crushed rock minerals to your garden to provide the necessary phosphorus in balance.
    Hope this helps.

  15. What can I do? | Food Wasting Impactson 24 Jun 2014 at 10:44 am

    […] waste. With this fertilizer you can grow your own garden, and create your own food. Please visit: to learn […]

  16. billon 24 Jun 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Hi Anne

    Thanks for the advice I will keep putting the skins in my compost bins.

    I have made a liquid tea from horse manure which seems to work well on my potted plants.


  17. […] seaweed/kelp, compost, worm castings, organic soil conditioners, compost/worm juice teas and homemade DIY fertilisers. You can also revitalise old potting mix and reuse […]

  18. Victoriaon 13 Nov 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Hi! This is the first web site that I found to be very interesting! Thank You! I had heard about coffee grinds, crushed eggs and bananas to feed my stag horn. I had actually just threw in the peels whole. I never heard about leaving them in water
    for a day or two…then using that water. I am going to do that instead of the whole peel, quicker nutrition and no fruit flies or squirrels. (Maybe I will throw coffee grinds into the water as well). My stag horn is still doing well after 20 years, just hanging in the same wire basket it was started in, now with ‘stronger’ chains. Thanks again, keep the information flowing…

  19. Anne Gibsonon 17 Nov 2014 at 8:36 am

    Thanks for your feedback Victoria. Sounds like your staghorn will be thriving with all those nutrients! If you haven’t already, I invite you to join my free newsletter for more tips, offers and advice I just share with subscribers. You receive a complimentary copy of my eBook as a thank you. Just fill in the details on the top right of the page. Happy gardening, Anne

  20. Mysterioon 12 Feb 2015 at 9:56 am

    Great article, thanks. My partner and I eat banana smoothies every morning. I collect up the banana peels through the day, make and drink the smoothies, and then blend up all the peels in some water and pour the mixture out under various plants. I think of it as some kind of compost tea. It also cleans out the blender pretty good.

  21. Anne Gibsonon 12 Feb 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Great idea – thanks for sharing your suggestion Mysterio. 🙂

  22. Peggy O'Neillon 14 Feb 2015 at 5:06 am

    Saw 1 mention of asparagus juice as a deterrent to nematodes. Haven’t found anywhere on line how to make this and use it. Probably aren’t any instructions/recipes printed anywhere?

  23. Anne Gibsonon 15 Feb 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Sorry Peggy haven’t heard that one before! You can encourage predators of nematodes into your soil by adding compost and green manures. Remember to destroy diseased plants, practice crop rotation and rest infected garden beds to starve the nematodes out. Hope this helps.

  24. Sharonon 08 Mar 2015 at 9:29 am

    I have been saving banana peels (air dried), egg shells and coffee grounds for use in my patio garden this spring. Which veggies will benefit most from each?

  25. Anne Gibsonon 08 Mar 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Sharon,

    BANANA PEELS are high in:
    * Potassium – helps promote general plant vigour; build up resistance to pest and disease; is necessary in fruit development; is involved in regulating around 50 enzymes in a plant and relates to the turgor (or uprightness of stems and the thickness of cell walls) i.e. plant strength! This is extremely important for plants like staghorns which literally hang onto tree trunks in nature and vertical vegies like shallots, leeks and fruiting crops.
    * Phosphorus – strongly influences fruiting and flowering; is essential for good root and shoot growth; pollination; and is very important in seed germination and viability. Again any fruiting or flowering plants.

    EGGSHELLS provide a good supply of Calcium, the most important mineral in the soil. It is the ‘ingredient’ of cell walls concerned with root development and growing stem points and helps ‘open up’ soil to allow more oxygen. Bottom line is all plants will benefit from the addition of calcium. Add to your compost, worm farm and around fruiting plants especially.

    COFFEE GROUNDS are a great pot plant mulch IF sprinkled in a thin layer and then topped with a coarser mulch. They can also help feed the soil. Research studies found as coffee grounds decompose, they appear to suppress some common fungal rots and wilts, including Fusarium, Pythium, and Sclerotinia species. Vegetables like beans, spinach, tomatoes and cucumber would likely benefit. Coffee grounds are ideally added to compost (10-20% by volume).

  26. char ocon 09 Mar 2015 at 5:16 am

    I just wanted to say I have been using most of your suggestions in excess of 15 years with fantastic success. It is so nice to see this useful information shared as you do. Thank you for your efforts.

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