DIY Fertilisers – How to Use Banana Peels

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.

 

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!

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.
Flowers and flowering plants including edibles need phosphorus to produce many blooms and fruit.

Flowers and flowering plants including edibles need phosphorus to produce many blooms and fruit.

  • 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. 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.

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, elkhorns and other ferns is not an old wives tale. There are valid reasons why many people use this DIY fertiliser!

 

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

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.

 

4 Ways to Use Bananas as a Plant Food Supplement

  • 1. 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!
  • 2. 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 add the peel on top of the soil or potting mix. Then replace the mulch. This method of fertilising is known as ‘side dressing’. You can add the peel to any potted plant under mulch to slowly release nutrients.
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.

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.


  • 3. 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 the chopped dried banana out in the sun under a strainer to dry out for a day or two into ‘banana chips’.  Scatter dried banana pieces in the centre of the plant and water them in. You can also bury these in pot plant soil. Or 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.
  • 4. Banana Peel on a Trunk or Backboard:  If growing a staghorn, elkhorn, orchid or similar plants, put a whole banana peel between the plant 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.

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

 

5 Tips for Using Bananas as a Free Organic DIY Fertilisers

  • 1. Have over ripe bananas you won’t use up? Don’t waste whole bananas or the skins – 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.
  • 2. 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. These beneficial microbes help accelerate decomposition.

 

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.

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.

 

  • 3. 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.
  • 4. Use with other homemade DIY fertilisers such as crushed eggshells and coffee grounds for greater effect.
  • 5. 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

Over ripe 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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Comments

comments

29 Comments

  1. Fauzia Dawoodally May 16, 2017 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Can I grind banana peel, orange peel and other food waste without drying it and then add this to my soil? I am trying to keep critters away. Thanks!

    • Anne Gibson May 16, 2017 at 7:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Fauzia
      You can grind banana and orange peels to your soil as free fertilizers. Not sure what kind of “critters” you are trying to keep away though. Insects will often target weak plants as ‘Nature’s Clean Up Crew’ whereas animals will often help themselves to free food in your garden. Great to hear you’re recycling your food waste back into the soil. Cheers Anne

  2. Gosia February 22, 2017 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    I’ve stumbled upon your blog a few days ago and I just can’t stop reading! Plenty of useful advice. I’ve been looking for a way to use bananas as fertilizer for a while and there it is! Thanks again.

  3. char oc March 9, 2015 at 5:16 am - Reply

    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.

  4. Sharon March 8, 2015 at 9:29 am - Reply

    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?

    • Anne Gibson March 8, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      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).

  5. Peggy O'Neill February 14, 2015 at 5:06 am - Reply

    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?

    • Anne Gibson February 15, 2015 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      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.

  6. Mysterio February 12, 2015 at 9:56 am - Reply

    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.

    • Anne Gibson February 12, 2015 at 1:26 pm - Reply

      Great idea – thanks for sharing your suggestion Mysterio. 🙂

  7. Victoria November 13, 2014 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    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…

    • Anne Gibson November 17, 2014 at 8:36 am - Reply

      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

  8. bill June 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    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.

    Bill

  9. bill June 21, 2014 at 2:25 am - Reply

    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?

    Bill

    • Anne Gibson June 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm - Reply

      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.

  10. Sue May 27, 2014 at 1:33 am - Reply

    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!

    Sue

    • Anne Gibson May 27, 2014 at 6:58 am - Reply

      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.

  11. Bob May 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    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!

    • The Micro Gardener May 5, 2013 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      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. 🙂

  12. Penny Pinching Peach April 25, 2013 at 12:48 am - Reply

    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! 🙂

  13. Judtih September 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm - Reply

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

  14. Judith September 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    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.
    Judith

    • The Micro Gardener September 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm - Reply

      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. 🙂

  15. lawn maintenance Phoenix March 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    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!

  16. ping July 23, 2011 at 12:26 am - Reply

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

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