Should You Use Banana Peels as Fertilizer for Your Houseplants?

Leftovers from your favorite fruit do contain nutrients, but using the skins to feed your indoor plants may do more harm than good.

You just finished eating a banana for breakfast, or maybe you mixed up the batter for a batch of banana bread, and now you're left with the peels. The skin of bananas is actually edible, but perhaps the banana peel bacon that went viral in 2021 just isn't your thing. You may have heard that you can also make banana peel fertilizer for your houseplants with the fruit's outer covering. Supposedly, soaking the peels in water you'll pour in the pots or by burying pieces in the soil will provide nutrients your plants need to grow. While there's some truth to these ideas, here's why using either of these methods isn't your best bet, and what to do instead.

banana peel on a wooden surface
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Banana Peels for Plants

Like any plant material, banana peels contain nutrients, including potassium and phosphorous, which are both essential nutrients in fertilizer. However, unless the peels are dried, they're mostly composed of water (over 80%), which means the amount of nutrients they have in comparison to regular fertilizer is pretty low. Fresh or dried, soaking the peels won't add a significant amount of nutrients to the water.

Burying a banana peel in your potting soil will add more nutrients than the soaking method. However, the peels will break down so slowly they likely won't provide an adequate amount of nutrients when your plants need them. Another downside to peels in your pots is that rotting organic matter can attract pests such as fruit flies, fungus gnats, and even cockroaches.

While you're better off using a store-bought fertilizer for your houseplants, you can still put banana peels to use in your garden. Like any fruit and veggie scraps and other plant-based kitchen waste, just toss the peels into your compost bin. They'll decompose without attracting pests to your houseplants, and they'll help make rich compost you can add to your garden.

houseplants on side table
Marty Baldwin

If you need to add more nutrients to keep your houseplants happy, use a commercially packaged fertilizer. Look for a fertilizer formulated specifically for houseplants that has balanced nutrients (equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium). Fertilizer will add more nutrients and work quicker than just burying a banana peel, or soaking peels in water to give to your plants. When you follow the label directions, you'll know exactly what you're adding to your soil. This is important because it's possible to give your houseplants too much of a good thing, which can cause growth problems.

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