I’m one of those odd people who only eat slightly ripe bananas with no spots. But, like most things that we use in our home, I was wondering if there’s a way we can repurpose these banana peels instead of throwing them away. I did some research to find out if banana peels would be good for my lemon tree, as well as other citrus trees. Here’s what I found.
Banana peels provide many nutrients for citrus trees. These peels contain essential nutrients that enhance tree growth, including potassium and manganese. However, using whole banana peels is a bad idea as they can create air pockets in the soil. Instead, it’s best to cut them up or compost them first.
So, banana peels are in-fact good for citrus trees, but why exactly? What nutrients are in the peels? And what’s the best way to apply the banana peels for your citrus trees? Let’s find out.
Why Are Banana Peels Good for Citrus Trees?
Aside from helping the citrus tree to grow, fruit, and resist disease, the nutrients in banana peels also help build the soil’s health. This is because banana peels provide a good food source and sugars for earthworms and beneficial microbes in the soil. This boost in soil quality helps the citrus tree in many ways.
When citrus trees are grown in their native climate, they’re typically planted in either sandy or loamy soil. These types of soils, in addition to proper watering, are both key when it comes to keeping your citrus tree healthy and happy.
When citrus trees grow, their trunk, roots, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit demand a lot of nutrients from the soil. So, providing your citrus tree with quality and balanced nutrients is important.
Banana peels are one ingredient that can help add some nutrients back and promote healthy soil life.
Here are some benefits that banana peels and healthy soil can bring citrus trees:
- Increased earthworms – tunnel in the soil and provide aeration to the citrus trees roots as well as high-quality nutrients from their worm castings
- More beneficial soil microbes – breaks down nutrients into a usable size for the citrus tree’s roots
- Richer soil – improves water retention dramatically, which means you can water less (every 1% increase in soil matter increases the amount of water held by 20,000 per acre)
However, banana peels are just one ingredient that can be used in the soil. For best results, banana peels should be mixed with other fruits, vegetables, and garden scraps to provide a balanced nutrient profile.
Let’s take a further look at which nutrients exactly are in banana peels and what they’re lacking.
What Nutrients are in Banana Peels?
Banana peels contain potassium, calcium, sodium, and manganese, along with other trace elements. However, the largest nutrient is potassium at 78mg per banana peel. Potassium is especially important for plants as it’s one of the three primary ingredients (the others are nitrogen and phosphorus, together making “NPK”).
If you aren’t already aware, the three main nutrients for plants are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. And since bananas are full of potassium, they’re a great addition to your citrus tree’s soil.
Potassium helps citrus trees with hardiness, water retention, and overall growth.
Normally, when it comes to NPK, citrus trees require twice the nitrogen to phosphorus and potassium, or a 2:1:1 ratio. For example, a fertilizer with 6-3-3 is perfect for citrus trees.
However, since nitrogen is mostly used for plant growth, such as roots, branches, and leaves, high amounts of nitrogen aren’t essential for already-grown citrus trees. Since these mature trees are focused on flowering and fruiting, it makes sense to give them a little boost of potassium from the banana peels.
In summary, banana peels are beneficial for all citrus trees, but the peel’s higher potassium level benefits mature citrus trees even more since it’s a key nutrient for flowers and fruits.
In case you’d also like some other ideas for high-potassium food scraps, know that orange peels, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and cucumbers, all have good potassium levels and are great for citrus trees!
Banana Peel pH
Banana peels have a pH of 9.9, which is fairly alkaline. If you’re adding many banana peels to the soil, consider keeping an eye on the pH since citrus trees prefer a slightly acidic soil pH (6.0-7.0). Some soil amendments you can add to make the soil more acidic are pine needles, peat moss, and sand.
You can also use coffee grounds to amend the soil and make it more acidic.
If you’d like to reduce the hassle of testing your soil, consider getting a pH meter. For a recommendation about which pH meter to get, you can check out my recommended tools page.
How Do You Apply Banana Peels as a Citrus Tree Fertilizer?
You might already know some of these popular methods of using banana peels to help your citrus tree:
- Applying banana peels directly in the soil
- Banana peel tea
- Dried banana peel powder
Let’s explore how to make each of these, and then you can choose whichever one you like the best!
Apply Directly to the Soil
As mentioned, putting whole banana peels directly into the soil can cause disruptions and unwanted air pockets in the soil.
If you’d prefer to apply directly to the soil (without composting them first), it is best to cut the banana peel up into small, 1-inch pieces and bury them in the soil (2 inches deep), away from the tree base and roots.
Banana Peel Tea
There are several ways to make banana peel tea, but this method is one of the easiest to follow:
- Collect 4 or 5 banana peels
- Cut them into square inch pieces
- In a saucepan, add 1 liter of water
- Allow the water to reach a boil
- Once boiling, add in the peels
- Boil the peels for 15 minutes
- Blend the resulting liquid
- Allow the mix to cool
- Add 2 more liters of water
- Mix and water your tree with the resulting tea
Another method (that doesn’t involve using the stove) is to take your banana peels and place them in a jar filled with water. Let this sit for two days. After, take out the banana peels. Then use the tea in the jar to water your citrus trees.
Dried Banana Peel Powder
If you only have a handful of peels, drying and grinding them into a powder is a great option.
Now, there are a couple of ways to dry out the peels.
The first way is to use the sun. To do this, you can place them evenly on a flat surface (typically on concrete, a rock, or a baking sheet) and allow the sun to do its job over a day or two.
The second method is to dry them in the oven. For this, take a baking sheet and place the peels in a flat and even layer. Heat the oven to 150ºF degrees with the oven door slightly open. This can take 2-3 hours, so check them regularly.
Once the peels are dried, grind them up in a coffee grinder or blender. You can take the ground-up banana peels and sprinkle them over the citrus tree’s soil directly, or mix them into potting soil. Happy gardening!
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Couch to Homestead, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Local Cooperative Extension Services: While we do our best with these articles, sometimes knowledge from a local expert is needed! The USDA partnered with Universities to create these free agriculture extension services. See your local services.
- 7 Easy Steps to Grow Fruit Trees (Free Guide): Need more fruit tree help from the ground up? See our free guide to make growing fruit trees a breeze.
- Ask the Free Community: Join The Couch to Homestead Community and connect with other members discussing gardening, homesteading, and permaculture.
- 30-Day Permaculture Food Forest Course: Learn how to turn your backyard into a thriving food forest in just 30 days with our online course.