Orange Peel Fertilizer and 10 Brilliant Ways to Use Orange Peels in the Garden

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This post was most recently updated on March 10th, 2021

Oranges are one of my favourite fruits! There is nothing quite like eating a fresh, juicy orange, but what do you do with the leftover peels? The chickens and goats don’t like to eat them, so what does a girl do?

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Below are 10 ways to use orange peels in the garden that I have used over the years. I trust you will find this useful for your own garden. Vegetable peels and fruit peels make a wonderful natural fertilizer, so be sure to check out our orange peel fertilizer recipe at the bottom of the post!

Are citrus peels good for your garden?

There are a lot of benefits to using orange peels in the garden. They are non toxic and renewable as well as being a waste product. They add nutrients to the soil and keep pests away.

What can I use orange peels for in the garden?

Orange peels and other citrus peels have many uses in the garden and outdoors. Read on to find out more.

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10 Brilliant Ways to Use Orange Peels in the Garden

1. In the compost – Are orange peels good for compost?

All citrus peels including oranges and lemons can be composted. Citrus is an excellent source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Adding them to compost is a great way to make it nutritious.

Orange peels are considered “greens” when composting and need to be mixed with some dry carbonaceous material to form humus. They are very high in nitrogen and are naturally quite acidic so be sure to cut them up small, and mix them in well.

When composting citrus you want to make sure to keep the pile warm to hot! If you are using organic citrus it’s possible that you can end up with moldy fruit and this mold will likely be in the penicillium family- from whence the antibiotic penicillin originated.

You want lots of healthy biotics in the compost pile and not antibiotics as this will cause some of the life forms to die off. Penicillium does not like warmth so keep it hot by adding plenty of carbon, and then high nitrogen items like chicken manure, animal manure and coffee grounds.

As an added bonus, citrus peels also protects compost from scavengers and some pests as many of them dislike the smell.

Warning: if you are doing vermiculture and have a worm bin you definitely do not want to throw citrus in there as it harms the red wrigglers.

RELATED: How to build a compost pile for beginners

2. Repelling or removing pests in the garden

Orange peels contain a chemical called d-Limonene which is an all-natural insecticide. It damages the nervous systems of pests such as aphids and ants, killing them.

You can place peels around plants that have pest problems or you can make a spray.

Make your own spray by boiling a half a cup of peels in water for ten minutes then straining out the peels. Add this liquid to a spray bottle and spray your plants once a week. Or around the garden to repel ants.

You won’t have to worry about causing any damage to the plants themselves. D-Limonene is used as the active ingredient in many environmentally friendly bug sprays.

RELATED: Neem oil bug spray

What do orange peels repel?

Ants, aphids, whiteflies, slugs or any other soft-body garden pests are all deterred or killed by this spray.

3. Keeping out Cats and Dogs

Bugs aren’t the only things that don’t like the smell of citrus. Shred up your peels and sprinkle them on the top of the garden or containers that you don’t want your dog or cats going near.

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4. Keep away sand flies and mosquitoes

You can use the plant bug repellent recipe above to spray on yourself to keep away the sandflies and mosquitoes while you are working in the garden.

You can rub fresh skins on your arms, or leave them around your patio to keep them away as well.

5. Fertilizer – Do orange peels make good fertilizer?

Orange peels and other citrus peels are high in nitrogen, sulfur, magnesium, calcium and other nutrients and can give your leafy plants a quick boost. For a simple nutrition boost, cut them up finely and sprinkle them on the top of the soil, then work them in to the top couple of inches.

Look below for the ultimate orange peel fertilizer recipe that can be used to repel pests as well as a foliar feed.

6. Light the fire pit

Orange peels make a great fire starter! Dry the peels until they are crispy – either in the sun, a slow oven or dehydrator and store them in an airtight jar.

Add a handful to the fire and light it, the oils are flammable and should catch light easily. As a bonus then citrus smoke helps keep those mozzies away.

RELATED: Ways to start a fire without paper

7. Keep off the ticks

Like many other animals, ticks don’t like the smell of orange peels. Either make a spray as above and spray your clothes and pets to keep the ticks off. Or you can sprinkle the orange peels around to repel the ticks from your garden.

8. Catch slugs

My Grandma taught me this one. Place orange peels upside down on the top of the soil in the garden for a few days. The slugs will use it as a hiding spot as they are moist and dark.

Then all you have to do is go and pick them up and throw them to the chickens or put them in a bowl of boiling water.

9. Seedling pots

Citrus peel halves make great little seedling pots – cut the very bottom off so it sits flat, fill them with seed raising mix and place them in a sunny spot. When it is time to transplant, you can bury the whole thing, peel included.

10. Acidify the soil

Leftover lemon and orange peels can be used to acidify the soil for plants like azaleas. Just dry the citrus peels and grind them into a powder.

Sprinkle this on the top of the soil and mix it in the first inch or so. It is a great and all natural way to increase the acidity of the soil. The amount of pH change depends on the amount of citrus peel powder you use.

How to make orange peel liquid fertilizer

This orange peel liquid fertilizer can also be make as a lemon peel fertilizer, or a mixed citrus peel one. Oranges and lemons tend to be the most commonly consumed citrus tree fruits, but you can use lime, tangelo, mandarin (clementines) and other fruit peels that can also be added include banana peel and pineapple peel.

This homemade liquid fertilizer will boost plant growth when given weekly and can be used to feed your houseplant as well.

This homemade fertilizer recipe relies on the natural fermentation practice that happens when you mix these ingredients together to create a citrus bio-enzyme liquid. It is a traditional Indian horticulture solution that has been used for many generations.

You can use either fresh or dried orange peel (or lemon peel) for this recipe, it is a great way to use up your kitchen waste!

What you need to make a citrus peel fertilizer

  • A large jar with a sealable lid
  • 1 cup of brown sugar or jaggery
  • 3 cups of lemon, orange or other citrus peels (you can make one of these cups up with either fresh banana peels or pineapple rind if you want to)
  • 10 cups of water

How to make citrus peel fertilizer

  1. Use your citrus as you usually would, and reserve the peels. You can either dry them or freeze them while waiting for you to have enough to make this recipe. 
  2. Chop your peels or banana skin up in to 1 inch pieces or smaller.
  3. Add all the ingredients in to your jar, add the lid and shake well.
  4. Place the jar somewhere warm and dark for 1 month. Every day at least once a day you will need to ‘burp’ your jar by opening the lid and allowing the air pressure to release.
  5. The natural yeasts on the fruit peels will start to ferment and consume the sugar. This will create carbon dioxide gas as it ferments, if you forget to burp the jar it could break!
  6. After a month you can stop burping the liquid every day, and just seal the jar and leave it to ferment with the lid screwed on loosely for a further 2 to 3 months. During this time it will convert the alcohol to vinegar and activate the enzymes in the mixture.
  7. Once the 3 months are up, you can now strain out what is left of the lemon or orange peels from the compost tea mixture. This remaining organic matter can be added to your compost or dug in to some soil around your garden plants.

How to use orange peel fertilizer for plants

The resulting fertilizer is incredibly potent, and can be used as a foliar feed diluted at a rate of 10:1000 – 10 milliliters to every 1 liter (or 2 teaspoons per quart).

At this ratio it will not burn your plants, but it will feed them a good dose of organic fertilizer, while also helping to get rid of aphids, whitefly and ants because they are repelled by the citrus oils in the mixture.

You can also use this ratio to water your house plants or garden plants, it is particularly beneficial for a tomato plant because it helps to acidify the soil and ensure that calcium is readily available to the plant which can help prevent blossom end rot while also boosting plant growth.

Be sure to always dilute this orange peel fertilizer before using it, because it is very potent and will burn your plant‘s leaves and roots if you use it undiluted.

You can however use it undiluted in your compost pile as a accelerant and activator to speed up the composting process in a similar way to coffee grounds or animal manure does.

Orange peel fertilizer benefits

The real benefit of orange peel fertilizer, especially when used as a regular foliar feed is the added benefit of repelling pests and combating fungal attacks. The high nutrient value, combined with the essential oils from the skins, along with the enzymes and probiotics makes it a potent all-round winner for plants.

Don’t throw those orange peels away! Find a use for them in your garden. Do you have any ways you like to use citrus peels in the garden?

If you are new to gardening, or want some support and knowledge getting a garden started, check out our Productive Gardener Course TODAY

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