A few months ago I had a lot of banana peels and decided to use them to make tea for my plants. Since it was popular on social media, I decided to try it. Don’t try something new just because it’s popular on social media.
I’m a houseplant newbie. I started collecting houseplants about a year ago with my Succulent Studios subscription and have been slowly adding to my collection. I’m not an expert on the science of soil, so I did some research.
I researched how to make banana peel fertilizer so I wouldn’t damage my plants. I did not look very hard on the internet, but I did not find anything that looked like a problem. Planning complete.
I didn’t have anything to lose by trying out my plant experiment except for a couple of small houseplants.
How to Make Banana Peel Fertilizer
All you need to make banana peel fertilizer is some banana peels, water, and patience.
- Banana peels
- One-quart mason jar
- Mason jar lid
- Distilled water
- Add a banana peel to a clean jar.
- Fill the jar with water and put the lid on it.
- Let the concoction sit for a week to two weeks, then remove and discard the banana peel.
- Dilute the finished fertilizer with water in a 1:4 ratio.
- Enjoy happy plants and bigger yields.
This recipe is easy to make more of if you want a larger quantity. Just add more banana peels in a larger container.
Banana Peel Compost Tea Epic Fail
Things started to get murky pretty quickly.
I had a bad feeling about the banana peel tea fertilizer as soon as I opened the jars. The scent was extremely sweet, as if it would draw in bugs, and the entire process was quite messy.
I immediately noticed that several of my plants had stains on their leaves. Although the stains look like they’re here to stay, they don’t seem to be causing any harm. Who wants to discolor their lovely plants when they irrigate them?
The soil also had a sweet and rotting smell of banana peels for many days after watering it. This made me nervous about the lasting effects.
Within just a few days, the real problem began. I started noticing little gnats flying around the soil. I’ve had houseplants for more than a year. I have never had any problems with bugs in my house until now with this banana compost tea situation.
In hindsight, I should have researched other potential side effects. I began to investigate the science behind why banana compost tea might be effective or not, and found some opinions claiming it lacks effectiveness to be quite convincing.
I discarded the leftover banana peel compost tea and kept watering the plants at even intervals with piped water. The problem with fungus gnats began to grow over a couple of months and they spread through the entire house.
There were little gnats that flew into our faces while we were on Zoom conference calls. The sound of their wings was a gentle lullaby that rocked us to sleep. I am writing this post and they are flying in my face. It’s gross! I have a problem with these pests and I don’t know how to get rid of them.
I’ve done some more research and now I think that the sugary liquid from rotting bananas that I used to water the soil attracted fungus gnats. The gnats then fed their families with it. They’re still laying eggs in the ground, so I’ve got a big project ahead of me to break the reproduction cycle and get rid of them!
Update: We eventually resolved our fungus gnat issue. To keep the gnats away, I watered the plants as little as possible without killing them. I also added food-grade Diatomaceous Earth to the soil of each plant to help get rid of fungus gnats. Many readers recommended it, and it worked quite well.
I put the glue board traps near the plants. A lot of fungus gnats were caught to slow down the reproduction cycle. Be careful with these traps. Keep them away from children and other small animals because they are incredibly sticky.
Why Would Banana Compost Tea Fertilizer Even Work?
After doing more research, I applied my knowledge of composting to this experiment. I’m not trying to pretend that I know everything about banana peel compost tea just because I’m not a scientist or compost expert. I have not done any formal research on the benefits of composting banana peels that could be replicated or reviewed by peers.
I think that the more someone thinks about how and why something might work, the more they think it’s relatively useless. I think the only reason people are interested in banana peel compost is because it looks good on social media.
P.S. Banana fanatics, beware! Banana peel compost tea is trending on Pinterest this year.
After my initial experience, I decided to read the book Compost Teas For The Organic Grower by Eric Fisher to learn more. The author talks about many different types of compost tea, including those made with banana peels, but never gives a definitive answer as to which is best for gardening. I cannot recall any mention of bananas in the book. If banana peel compost tea is so great, why isn’t it mentioned in a book like this?
How Does Banana Peel Tea Fertilizer Help Plants Thrive If It Even Works?
There is a belief that bananas are good for plants because they contain a high amount of potassium, which is necessary for plant growth. Potassium is a nutrient that helps plants grow strong roots, use water effectively, and resist drought. It also makes fruits and vegetables more vibrant, so it can be especially helpful for growing edible gardens and food crops.
If the soil lacks soluble potassium, plants may have reduced growth or other problems that make them weaker and more vulnerable to difficult conditions.
Potassium is a mobile nutrient, which means a plant can reallocate it throughout itself. The older leaves on a plant show signs of potassium deficiency before the younger leaves because the plant sends what little potassium it has to the younger leaves. Isn’t it interesting how plants take care of themselves and their future health? I digress…
Banana peels can be used as amendments for soil that is low in potassium content since the potassium from the peels will decompose and become water soluble. This is beneficial for plants that require potassium as part of their nutrient intake. Right? Even humans eat bananas for their potassium. Potassium is a nutrient that all plants need in order to function properly. It helps them absorb other nutrients from the soil more effectively.
There are some key points where the logic does not make sense.
- Plants don’t eat bananas; plants absorb nutrients from the soil.
- Plants need more nutrients than just potassium; they want a balanced diet.
- Bananas aren’t the best source of potassium, so why do they reign supreme on the potassium pedestal?
Plants Don’t Eat Bananas
Unlike humans, plants don’t eat bananas. Plants need complex nutrients to be broken down by microbes and fungi so that they can absorb them from the soil.
The potassium in banana peel tea fertilizer only benefits plants if the peel breaks down and the potassium becomes soluble. If you don’t remove the potassium from the banana peel, it will stay on the peel and you will end up throwing it away.
We can speed up the natural decomposition process by creating an ideal environment that includes oxygen, water, nitrogen, and carbon. Although it may only take a couple of weeks for organic matter to break down, this is only in ideal circumstances.
We know that finished compost that is ready to feed plants can take months to decompose without sufficient air and active management. Why do banana peels break down quickly in a jar of water at room temperature?
This means that I do not believe that decomposition occurs in a short amount of time, even if we are being generous. The solution I served my plants that was smelly was most likely just brown-tinted water with rotting banana peel pieces attracting fungus gnats.
Fantastic! I hope you can hear my sarcasm through the screen.
Plants Prefer a Diverse Diet of Nutrients and Minerals
To survive and thrive, plants need many different nutrients and minerals. Variety is the spice of life. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are three of the main nutrients that are vital to the health and growth of plants. However, each type of plant requires different nutrients levels in the soil.
What if our banana peels could be broken down into a liquid fertilizer within a few days to a week? This fertilizer would be rich in water-soluble potassium, which would be readily absorbed by plants. Could banana peel compost tea fertilizer be a complete nutrient solution?
Probably not. Bananas and banana peels are high in potassium, but they aren’t particularly loaded in nitrogen and all the other nutrients that plants need to grow. This means that they can be used as a source of potassium for plants, but they won’t provide much in the way of other essential nutrients. If peels lack a variety of nutrients, they will not be able to provide those nutrients to plants. Your plants will likely need extra fertilizer that is more complete every few months.
Banana fertilizer compost tea is mostly pointless, except when it causes fungus gnat infestations in your home, which can be straight-up annoying.
I’m not saying that it’s completely pointless, just that it’s not as useful as it could be. Some plants require a lot of potassium to grow properly and may benefit from an occasional additional dose of potassium fertilizer, in addition to their usual fertilization schedule. I doubt that banana peel compost tea, as it is commonly seen on social media, is a good solution.
Better Sources of Potassium Than Bananas
I am not sure that banana peel compost tea actually works and bananas may not be the best source of potassium. A medium-sized baked potato has twice as much potassium as a medium-sized banana. Pinto beans contain a large amount of potassium, similar to that of a banana. Papaya and prune juice can be just as effective as banana when it comes to potassium levels.
More Banana Peel Uses In The Garden
Here are some of my favorite ways to put this amazing plant food into action:
- Bug Buster
If you have banana peels and apple cider vinegar, you can use them to keep bugs away from your garden. To trap bugs, mix diluted banana peel fertilizer with chopped-up bits of peeled bananas and put it in an old jar. You can keep ants and other pests out by placing a funnel in the opening.
Don’t keep the batch of food for more than 48 hours, or it will go bad. Make a new batch that will last for two weeks before needing to be replaced.
- Plant a Peel
Make sure you give your tomato plants a nutrient-rich treat! As you transplant tomatoes and other plants that love potassium, place the banana peel in each hole. The soft, peeling part of the banana will decompose quickly when it’s close to the soil and provide essential nutrients for strong plant growth.
- Give Seeds a Head Start
This is an effective way to give your plants a head start. By planting the seeds in banana peels, you are giving them a rich source of nutrients that will help them to germinate quickly and effectively. Cut a hole through the peel of the fruit and insert the seed just deep enough for the top of the seed to be visible. Now cover with soil, water well, and wait!
- Banana Peel Powder
Put some of your used banana peels on the bottom rack of your oven set to the lowest temperature. Place the items on a baking sheet in a way that they do not touch each other. This will make it easier to cook them evenly and to separate them when they are finished. I cut my chicken into 1″ pieces first, which makes it easy for me to break apart once finished cooking. If you want your banana peels to decompose more quickly, leave them in direct sunlight for 3 days or less.
Take some time out of your day to turn dried banana peels into powder using a mortar and pestle or an old coffee grinder. You should store the bananas in clear jars with labels so that you can easily see and identify them when you need them. Gently loosen up the soil around the plants and sprinkle one or two tablespoons of food over the surface. Water thoroughly afterward. Let nature take care of this work from here!
- Chopped Banana Peel Mulch
Banana peels are good for your plant’s health. It doesn’t get much easier than that! By breaking down and releasing nutrients, the peels will help the plants to be healthy.