In my house full of kids, oranges and other citrus fruit go quickly. That means we’re left with a lot of citrus peels. We could throw them out, but I am always thinking about how I can use organic waste to improve the health of my plants.
Things like banana peel, eggshells, and coffee grounds can all help your houseplants thrive. But what about orange peel and other citrus peel? Let’s dive in to the way to use orange peel with your favorite houseplant.
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Orange Peels as Fertilizer
Orange peels are rich in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, and sulfur. All of these nutrients are great for your house plant!
To get the most benefit from your citrus peel, make a fermented fertilizer mixture. This mixture takes some time to ferment, but it creates a nutrient-rich fertilizer that also repels pests.
Orange Peel Fertilizer Recipe
- 1 cup of jaggery (you can also use brown sugar)
- 3-4 cups of orange peel, packed tightly
- About 10 cups of water
- A large container with a lid that seals tightly
- Cut your orange peel up into small pieces, about one inch wide – I use kitchen shears for this.
- Place all ingredients, including orange peels, into your container and stir until mixed completely. Put the lid on your container and make sure it’s sealed tightly.
- Put your container in a dark, warm space. At least once a day, you will want to open your container a bit to release air pressure. You will want to repeat this process for about 1 month.
- After 1 month of burping, let your container rest for an additional 2 to 3 months to let helpful enzymes build up in your mixture. During this time, you can loosen the lid to your container.
- At the end of 2 or 3 months, you can now strain the solid material out of your mixture. Those solids can be added to your compost pile.
- Use the remaining liquid as a fertilizer by diluting it with water – approximately 2 teaspoons for every quart of water. Mixing too strong can burn your plants, so err on the side of caution when making your fertilizer mix. You can also pour the undiluted mixture on your compost pile to help speed the decomposition of organic materials.
- Apply fertilizer monthly.
Orange Peels to Increase Soil Acidity
Orange peels can also be used to increase the acidity of your soil. This can be helpful for both an indoor plant that likes acidic soil, as well as outdoor plants who like acidic soil.
Orange peel fertilizer can help increase your soil’s acidity, but you can also simply grind your citrus peel into a powder and sprinkle it on the top layer of your plant’s soil. Mix into about the first inch of the plant’s soil.
For best results, start with a small amount of powdered orange peel, and increase the amount gradually if you don’t see results after about a week.
Orange Peels as Pest Repellant
Another awesome benefit to citrus peels is that they act as an insect and pest repellant. Citrus peels contain a natural pest repellant called d-Limonene. This chemical disrupts the nervous system of whiteflies, aphids, ants, and other insects, causing them to die. It is also repellant to mosquitoes.
There are a couple of ways you can use orange peels to deter pests. One way is to simply place orange peels around the base of your houseplant or outdoor plants.
Another solution is to make an orange peel spray to use on plants that are bothered by pests. To do this:
- Boil water and then add about 1/2 cup of citrus peels. Boil for 12 minutes.
- Strain out the peels.
- Put the remaining liquid into a spray bottle and spray on any plants that are prone to pests.
You can also use this spray on your clothes, or any other place where you want to repel insects!
Orange peels are also helpful for keeping slugs off of your garden plants. To catch slugs, place orange peels curved-side down in the soil, so they make a small arch. Slugs will hide under the peels, because they like moist and dark spaces. This makes them easy to find and dispose of!
Orange Peels in Compost
Like most organic kitchen scrap, citrus peels can be composted. Place your orange peel, lemon peel, or other citrus peel pieces into your compost bin. They will decompose easiest if you tear them into small pieces and mix them in well.
Note: citrus peels may not be a good choice for vermicompost, due to the effect their acidity may have on your worms. Consult a vermicomposting resource like the NC State Extension before adding!
Orange Peels to Grow Seedlings
Orange peel can also be used as a cheap and sustainable way to start your garden seedlings. To do this, take half of an orange peel and fill with your seedling soil. Then, plant your seeds and wait for them to sprout.
Once your seedlings have sprouted, you can transplant them to your garden — just bury the orange peel along with your seedling.
Organic kitchen scraps are great for both potted plants and outdoor garden plants. This includes orange peels and other citrus peels! Save these peels and put them to good use with your plants, and you’ll reap the rewards for months and years to come.