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!
Tips for How You Can Reuse Bananas
Like all plants, bananas contain important nutrients. You can recycle these back into your garden to build plant and soil health.
Bananas are rich in minerals including:
This mineral helps:
- promote general plant vigour.
- build up resistance to pest and disease.
- fruit develop.
- regulate around 50 enzymes in a plant.
- build 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.
- strongly influences fruiting and flowering.
- is essential for good root and shoot growth.
- assists with pollination.
- is very important in seed germination and viability.
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.
- 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, plants needs many other nutrients too (NOT just N-P-K)!
Slow Release Organic Fertilisers
A 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 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.
Seaweed or kelp liquid organic fertilisers also supply your plants with vital macro nutrients or trace elements. These are needed by plants in minute quantities for various functions.
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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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.
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, there’s an easy alternative.
- 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.
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.
- 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. These creatures help create air pockets in the soil and add their free fertiliser (worm castings).
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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!
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. They have many other benefits too.
Hope this advice is useful and helps you get the most out of your plants and bananas!
- Check out Frugal Gardening for more money saving tips
- 9 Foods You Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps
- How to Grow Your Own Food from Seed
- Harvesting Vegetables & Herbs
- Garden Maintenance for more ideas
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I chopped up the banana peals and put them in water and forgot them for a couple weeks is the water bad now and do I have to start all over again?
Hi Suzan, no don’t waste your liquid fertiliser! It’s fine to use. The banana peels will have likely decomposed quite a lot and fermented which is just part of the natural process. Dilute and use on your garden. Enjoy the benefits and good on you for making your own fertiliser.
This information is very useful. I’m a newbie at organic gardens so please be patient with me.My concern is the residual pesticides, fungicides etc. that they spray on the banana plants and citrus trees. Does this not leach out into the water or consequently contaminate the soil you’re trying to enrich? Thanks for any insight. Kind regards, Marisa
I gather you are referring to non-organically grown bananas and fruits rather than those you are growing yourself. I try to avoid any inputs into my organic garden that may be contaminated with chemicals especially synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides as these do make their way into the soil and water table. They also impact the beautiful soil life you are trying to establish.
If you can source banana peels from local gardeners, an organic grocer or similar, then you can confidently recycle the nutrients.
Minimising toxic chemicals is one of the key reasons I grow as much of my own produce as I can and support farmers who implement biological safe farming principles and work on regenerating healthy soil to grow nutrient-dense food. Hope this helps!
Hi, what is the rates of application in your banana peel with water..??
You don’t need a specific recipe or rate of application in my experience, Jerry. Just blend it well with enough water to make a solution you can pour around your plants. Ideally, under the mulch. You can add just one peel to some water, or several depending on what you have available. Maybe just dilute it more to make it go further.
Hi! I left a banana peel in water outside for several days, and I forgot about it. When I found it this morning I poured in on my tomato plants without thinking. Now I am worried about botulism!
Your banana peel fertiliser will break down and help provide valuable nutrients for your tomato. Most human cases of botulism are caused by improperly cooked, preserved or canned foods where the growth of the bacterium has produced the toxins.
Botulism is caused by nerve toxins made by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. These bacteria are found worldwide in soils, but people who develop botulism most commonly get it from eating food that is contaminated with the bacteria or its toxin.(1)
Washing all homegrown vegetables is good practice before eating or preparing them.
I always make dried banana peel powder with my spice mill. Are dried or fresh cut up pieces around the plants more effective?
Hi Lynn, from my experience, I find fresh peels that are finely chopped or pulped, breakdown faster than dried banana peel powder because microbial activity needs to take place to start decomposition and some moisture activates that. Maybe make a slushie by mixing your powder with water before applying for faster takeup. Cheers Anne
I am growing organic vegetable and flower plants. I make banana smoothies with eggshells and coffee grounds daily to mix in my organic soil for transplants. My plants are loving the soil. I also add Epson salt and all other fruit rinds and peels
Hi. When you make the smoothie, do you drop the entire contents into the soil or only a portion?
I was thinking of grinding up coffee grounds with dried banana peels and egg shells to make a mixture. Do you know how many eggshells, and banana peels and how much coffee grounds I need to make a healthy mixture? Is there some sort of ratio or measurement guidelines?
Lynn all those food waste ingredients will add nutrients back into the soil to feed your plants – there’s no ratio or recipe! You’re really just composting them by blitzing them in the blender or grinding them up to help them break down faster. Coffee grinds are high in nitrogen and are best used in very small doses unless composted. Eggshells are high in calcium so good around fruiting crops. You could just bury a bit around your plants, water in well and let it compost in the soil. Good job for recycling food waste! Cheers Anne 🙂
I’ve been using a DIY compost, and it has helped, but I never actually knew how much the bananna peel actually would help.
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!
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
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.
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.
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?
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).
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?
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.
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.
Great idea – thanks for sharing your suggestion Mysterio. 🙂
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…
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
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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!
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. 🙂
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! 🙂
Thank you for your response to my message. BTW, I should have said first time round that your article re potassium is wonderfully informative.
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.
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. 🙂
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!
Thank you so much – you’ve just added my mind organically good. PING