Want to save money in your garden and grow healthier plants?  One of the easiest ways to do this is to make your own free DIY fertilisers with organic materials and household food waste, including banana peels. A sustainable solution!

DIY Fertilisers - How to Use Banana Peels to Feed your Plants for Free

DIY Fertilisers – How to Use Banana Peels to Feed your Plants for Free


Tips for How You Can Reuse Bananas

Like all plants, bananas contain important nutrients. You can recycle these back into your garden to build soil and plant health.

Bananas are rich in minerals including:

  • Potassium. This mineral helps promote general plant vigour; build up resistance to pest and disease; is necessary to help fruit develop; 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 vegetables like spring onions, 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. This mineral 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.’ Calcium is the ‘ingredient’ of cell walls concerned with root development and growing stem points. It also helps ‘open up’ soil to allow more oxygen.


With such important roles to play, these macro nutrients are vital for plant health and wellbeing. However, there are many other nutrients plants need too (NOT just N-P-K)!

Slow Release Organic Fertilisers

balanced slow release organic fertiliser with vital 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.  That means they dissolve and can be absorbed by microbes in the soil and fine plant root hairs.

These organic fertilisers 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!

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Why Feed Banana Peels to Staghorns?

Feeding banana peels to staghorns and other ferns is not an old wives tale. There 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.


4 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 banana peels and add to your compost or worm farm. The microbes will help turn this nutrient-rich organic matter into plant food. 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 plant 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 sphagnum 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. I also toss mine into the centre of birds nest ferns every month or so.


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 DIY Fertilisers

  • 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 DIY 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. 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.

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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; 9 Foods You Can Regrow From Kitchen ScrapsHow to Grow Your Own Food from Seed; Harvesting Vegetables & Herbs and Garden Maintenance for more ideas.


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