Why You Shouldn't Use a Banana Peel to Fertilize 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 edible, but perhaps the banana peel bacon that went viral in 2021 isn't your thing.

You may have also heard that you can make banana peel fertilizer for houseplants with the fruit's outer covering. Supposedly, soaking the peels in water you'll pour into the pots or burying pieces in the soil will provide the 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 Peels for Plants

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

Like any plant material, banana peels contain nutrients, including potassium and phosphorous, essential nutrients in fertilizer. However, unless the peels are dried, they're mainly composed of water (over 80%), which means the amount of nutrients they have compared to regular fertilizer is pretty low. Fresh or dried, soaking the peels won't add significant 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 that 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 or veggie scraps and other plant-based kitchen waste, toss the peels into your compost bin. They'll decompose without attracting pests to your houseplants and 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 with balanced nutrients (equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium). Fertilizer will add more nutrients and work quicker than burying a banana peel or soaking peels in water to give to your plants. Plus, you'll know exactly what you're adding to your soil when you follow the label directions, which is important. It's possible to give your houseplants too much of a good thing, which can cause growth problems.

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