Banana Skins: The Surprising Plant Fertilizer You’ve Been Throwing Away

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There are many surprising things about bananas, also known as Musa sapientum, or “fruit of the wise men.” 

For example, did you know they are botanically classified as berries? 

Banana Skins for PlantsPin

Did you further know that their peels are pure garden gold and that your houseplants will love them too? This is because they can be used as both pest repellent and fertilizer. 

In this article, we tell you how. Read on to learn more.

What’s So Great About Banana Peels? 

Banana peels contain all the nutrients and minerals necessary for healthy plant growth. Made up of about 42 percent potassium (K), they are one of the most abundant sources of organic potassium, an essential fertilizer component. 

Potassium is good for plants because it increases the plants’ protein content, helps to strengthen their stems, and improves overall vigor. 

It also helps nutrient and water movement between the plants’ cells and enhances flower production and fruit development. Ample potassium enhances the flavor of the fruit. 

Potassium also strengthens the plant’s immune system to fight off diseases. Having plenty of potassium helps plants resist drought conditions. 

Bananas also contain a small amount of nitrogen (N) and some phosphorus (P), calcium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, and sulfur. These enhance chlorophyll production, support seed germination, pollination, and photosynthesis and promote root growth and strength.

Don’t Plants Need Lots Of Nitrogen? 

Plants do need nitrogen, but excessive amounts of nitrogen will cause your plants to grow lots of foliage and not so much in the way of blooms and fruit. 

For this reason, high-nitrogen fertilizers are better for green, leafy veggies, such as spinach, chard, lettuce, and broccoli. 

High amounts of potassium and lower amounts of nitrogen make banana peels the perfect fertilizer and soil amendment for plants like peppers and tomatoes, ornamental flowers and rose bushes, and the like.

Another bonus of using banana peels to fertilize tomato plants is that the high levels of calcium in banana peels help ward off blossom end rot, a common problem in tomato plants. 

How Can You Use Banana Peels For Indoor and Garden Plants? 

There are several ways to make good use of banana peels to enhance your gardening projects and keep excessive waste out of landfills. 

1. Make liquid fertilizer and pest repellent.

Banana Peel Tea: One of the easiest ways to use banana peels is to simply chop up half a dozen peels into small pieces and place them in a quart-sized container with a lid. Large Mason jars are perfect. 

Add a handful of eggshells rinsed, dried, and crushed. Top that off with 1.5 teaspoons of Epsom salts. 

Cover all this with fresh water and loosely place the lid on the container. The main purpose of the lid is to keep bugs out. You don’t necessarily need the container to be airtight. 

Set the container in a cool, shady place for a day or two. Check on it and stir the banana peel water every once in a while. 

After a few days, strain off the liquid. You can use the banana water to water plants; its nourishment will go right to your plants’ roots. 

This very same liquid also works well as a pest-repellent foliar spray. This is a very effective concoction when used against pests like aphids, fruit flies and fungus gnats. Just spray it on the leaves and branches of the plants.

You can toss the chopped-up banana peels into your compost heap or worm bin or use them as a soil amendment in your garden or container plants. 

2. Make an all-natural slow-release fertilizer.

If you have a lot of banana peels, you may wish to preserve them for later use. To do this, you can dry them to make an easy-to-store, all-natural, slow-release fertilizer. 

You can use your oven or a dehydrator or just let the sun do the work for you. To dry your banana peels in the oven, chop them just as you would when making liquid fertilizer/pest repellent. Toss the ends into your compost pile, as they will take a very long time to dry.

Oven drying: Lay your chopped-up banana peels out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place them in the oven with the door propped open slightly. Set your oven on a low setting (about 200 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Check on your project’s progress every hour or so. You may wish to stir the skins around a bit so that they will have greater exposure to warm air. 

When the banana peels are dry and crispy, they’re done. This should take a few hours.

  • Sun drying: If you choose to use the sun to dry them, you will follow these same steps, with a couple of possible variations. To keep bugs off, lay a cheesecloth over the peels. You may also choose to lay them on a screen instead of a tray for better air circulation. Place them in a warm and dry area with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. Air drying may take 3-5 days. 
  • Dehydration: To use a dehydrator, follow the instructions for your machine. Generally speaking, you’ll want to use a high temperature. For a dehydrator, this is usually about 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

How Do You Use Dried Banana Skins? 

No matter how you dry your banana skins, once they are crispy and crumbly, you can simply incorporate them as-is into your garden and potting mix. 

If you wish, You can crush them up to make their nutrients more readily available to your plants. 

There are several ways to do this: 

  • Use a blender
  • Use a food processor
  • Use a mortar and pestle
  • Put the chips in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin. 

Crushed, dried banana peel makes an excellent addition to potting soil and a great garden plant amendment. 

If you are able to create a very fine powder, you can make a liquid fertilizer by mixing a heaping tablespoonful of the dried powder and one tablespoonful each of powdered eggshell and Epsom salts into 2 quarts of water. You can use this to water and/or mist your indoor plants. 

This is especially effective for epiphytes, such as: 

  • Bird Nest Ferns
  • Staghorn Ferns
  • Bromeliads
  • Orchids

They appreciate a light feeding every few months during their growing season. 

Note that, as with any natural fertilizer, you should avoid allowing large amounts of dried banana skin powder to touch your plants’ roots and stems. 

If the powder is thoroughly mixed into water or incorporated into the soil, you needn’t worry. 

If you are using banana powder as a side dressing, don’t let it touch the plant stem. If you are adding a handful to the bottom of a planting hole, cover the powder with soil before adding the plant. 

Compost Whole Banana Peels

You can always add banana peels to your compost heap or worm bin. Composting is a simple solution if you don’t have the time or patience to chop and dry banana peels. 

You can just toss whole banana peels into your compost bin or worm bin and let nature take its course. 

During the process, the beneficial bacteria will break down the organic matter and banana peels. 

Your domestic composting worms and your natural, native composting fauna will all be glad of the addition, and your finished compost will be much more nourishing for your plants. 

Use Fresh Banana Peels Right In Your Garden

You can use whole banana peels in the garden. If you don’t have a compost heap or bin, you can simply bury whole banana peels around your garden or in large planters to give your plants a bit of a boost. 

You can also layer them under a very thick layer of mulch to nourish garden and container plants. As the banana peels gradually decompose under the mulch, they will provide slow, steady nourishment for your plants and for beneficial fauna in the soil.

Mulching is a great way to amend your soil, suppress weed growth, provide habitat for beneficial microorganisms and garden helpers, and conserve moisture in the soil. In fact, a good layer of mulch prevents moisture evaporation by as much as 70%.

Using Banana Peels In The Garden Is A Win-Win!

It’s easy to see that banana peels can bring many benefits to the garden and your houseplants in myriad ways. 

Using banana peels as an organic fertilizer and for pest control improves soil quality and fertility, protecting and enhancing plant growth. 

As an added benefit, your good use of this absolutely free, all-natural resource helps keep potentially harmful chemicals found in commercial fertilizers and pesticides out of the waterways and rotten banana peels out of the landfill.

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