Learn whether banana peels are a good source of nutrition for your plants, or if that's just a myth.

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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. You might’ve heard that you can use those peels to help give your houseplants some extra nutrients, either by soaking peels in water you'll pour in the pots or by burying pieces in the soil. But relying on banana peels to perk up your houseplants isn’t your best bet.

banana peel on a wooden surface
Credit: Alexander Newcomer, EyeEm/Getty Images

Like any organic material, the 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.

If you bury a banana peel in your soil, that’ll add more nutrients than soaking it in water (it’s not likely that a significant amount of potassium or phosphorous will end up in the water after soaking the peel), but you’d still be better off using fertilizer. Another downside of burying banana peels, especially in your houseplants’ soil, is that they can attract pests such as fruit flies and fungus gnats as they decompose.

That doesn’t mean you have to let your banana peels go to waste; the best way to use them after you’re finished in the kitchen is to 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. You can also add other fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells from your kitchen to your compost.

houseplants on side table
Credit: Marty Baldwin

If you need to add more nutrients to keep your plants happy, use a commercially packaged fertilizer. You can buy 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 it to water your plants. You’ll also know exactly what you’re adding to your soil, and won’t end up giving your plants too much potassium and not enough nitrogen and phosphorous, which can cause growth problems.

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