Oranges and other citrus fruits are some of the most commonly consumed produce in the home – especially if you have family members with a sweet tooth! Not only are they healthy and delicious; they also make a great addition to salads and several main dishes.
If you and your family love oranges, there are probably times when you end up with quite the pile of orange peels in your garbage can. You could throw them out, but if you want to reduce your household waste, then here is some good news – orange peels can be used in your garden to boost the health of your plants!
Are orange peels good for plants? Yes – and we will explain all the whys and hows in this article.
Can you use orange peels in the garden?
You might think that orange peels have no use and are best discarded with the garbage. But wait – did you know there are some smart ways to recycle your orange peels? In fact, they can be of great use for your garden.
Orange peels are known to be high in vitamins, fiber, polyphenols, and limonene, all of which are important for human health. Unfortunately, though, no one likes to eat orange peels because they taste so bitter. So, while the peels can be turned into candy or marmalade, most of us simply throw them away and just enjoy the sweet fruit inside.
The good thing about orange peels is that they have several uses for your plants. Because they are nutritious, they can be used as garden compost or fertilizer. However, be cautious when using orange peels in your garden, as not all plants appreciate an acidic environment.
Another perk of using orange peels for your plants is that they have a strong, sweet fragrance that attracts beneficial insects like butterflies. The same strong scent can also repel several pests that cause havoc in gardens. Thus, you might say that using orange peels in your garden is like hitting two birds with one stone – the scent can invite garden friends while driving away destructive enemies!
So, if you are looking for sustainable ways to enrich your garden soil while also reducing your household waste, then save your orange peels and use them for your plants.
How are orange peels good for plants?
Before throwing your orange peels into the waste bin, you might want to check out some of their uses and benefits below:
1. Orange peels help acidify the soil
Oranges are naturally rich in vitamin C, which makes them acidic. They have a pH of 3.0 to 4.0, meaning they can significantly improve the acidity level of your soil. This would make your acid-loving plants happy and help them to thrive! You can cut the orange peels into smaller bits or powder them before adding them to your soil. Both indoor and outdoor plants that prefer an acidic medium will benefit from orange peels.
So, which plants like orange peels? Some common houseplants that thrive in acidic soil include rhododendrons, camellias, daffodils, azaleas, and hydrangeas. You can also use orange peels to grow common garden crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, sweet peppers, and potatoes.
2. Orange peels can be used in compost
Composting is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to enrich the soil for your plants. Plus, it is also an excellent way to minimize household waste.
Orange peels, together with other common kitchen scraps, are a great ingredient for making good compost. The decomposed organic materials contain loads of essential nutrients that can give most plants a terrific boost. Before throwing them into your compost bin, make sure to cut them into smaller pieces so that they decompose faster.
Just keep in mind, though, that orange peels and other citrus scraps might not be great for vermicomposting. Worms grow and reproduce best in a neutral environment, so the acidic compounds present in citrus fruits can be harmful to them.
3. Orange peels can be used as a pest repellent
Do you know that orange peels are a natural repellent of common garden pests, including slugs and aphids? The peels are rich in a compound called d-limonene, which can suffocate and kill most bugs.
So how exactly does it work? D-limonene breaks down the pests’ protective waxy coating and damages their nervous systems, in the same way as most pesticides work.
If you do not like the harmful effects of chemical pesticides, then you might want to give orange peels a try. Simply put the scraps around your plants and the strong fragrance should be sufficient to keep most pests away.
You can also make your own pest repellent spray using orange peels. This is how:
- Place the orange peels in boiling water for about ten minutes.
- Using a strainer, separate the orange scraps from the liquid.
- Pour the orange peel liquid into a spray bottle.
- Use the liquid to spray your soil and plants once or twice a week.
4. Orange peels help attract butterflies
While some bugs might despise the smell of orange peels, the effect can be just the opposite for butterflies. These beneficial garden insects love the sweet fragrance of oranges. If you leave several orange peels scattered around your garden plants, butterflies will soon arrive to feast on any leftover fruit juices.
Butterflies, like most beneficial insects, are important for pollination. Their bodies help to carry pollen from one plant and transfer it to another. This process facilitates the production of seeds in flowers, vegetables, and fruits in the garden. For this reason, butterflies are considered a gardener’s best friend.
5. Orange peels can be used for seedlings
Orange peels can also be used as cheap alternatives in which to grow your seedlings. To start, simply cut the bottom off of the orange peel and poke small holes for drainage. Fill it with seed-raising mix and add the seeds. Place the seedlings in an area that has access to sunlight and remember to water them regularly – this will help the seeds germinate and develop roots.
Once your seedlings have sprouted roots, stems and leaves, you can transfer them to a pot or garden soil. Orange peels are organic and will easily compost in the soil, so you do not need to remove them when you transfer the seedlings. The orange peels will also nourish the soil as they decompose, facilitating faster and healthier growth of your plants.
6. Orange peels drive away ants and mosquitoes
Both mosquitoes and ants are averse to the strong smell of orange peels. One of the easiest and most sustainable ways to drive them away from your garden is through the use of orange peels. Chop the peels into smaller pieces and toss them around your plants or at ants’ entry points. As long as the orange peels are fresh and have not lost their citrus fragrance, you should be able to repel these nuisances from your plants.
7. Orange peels keep cats and dogs out
Worried about your pets messing up your precious plants? Then you can use orange peels to keep them at bay. Cats and dogs hate the strong scent of citrus peels, so if you scatter these scraps on the soil or around your plant containers, your furry friends will surely leave your plants alone for good. You can also sprinkle small bits of orange peel on the ground where your cats and dogs usually dig to discourage them from digging in the same spots.
8. Orange peels can be used as fertilizer
Just like other fruit and vegetable scraps, orange peels are rich in essential nutrients – particularly magnesium, sulfur, calcium, and nitrogen. These nutrients are all beneficial for plant growth. So, instead of throwing your orange peels in the garbage can, you can turn them into organic fertilizer for your plants and vegetable garden!
The secret to giving your green friends a healthy boost is to allow the orange scraps to ferment naturally. This will create an organic plant food that is rich in nitrogen, an important macronutrient to support healthier leaves and stems.
Here is how to make orange peel fertilizer:
- Cut the orange peels into smaller pieces. This will make them easier to mix and decompose.
- In a clean container, mix about four cups of orange peel, a cup of brown sugar, and 10 cups of water. Stir the mixture thoroughly.
- Cover and seal the mixture with a tight lid.
- Store the mixture in a warm, dark place. Make sure to open the lid at least once a day to release the air pressure, and do this for an entire month.
- After a month, you can loosen the lid of your container. Let the mixture rest for about three months more to allow the enzymes to build up.
- After three months of fermentation, you may now separate the solids and liquids in mixture with a strainer. Add the solid materials to your compost bin.
- Dilute the liquid mixture with water, at a ratio of two teaspoons of orange peel liquid for every quarter gallon of water. Your fertilizer is now ready!
- Use the fertilizer on your plants monthly. If the mixture is too strong for your plants, you can gradually add a bit of water to reduce the strength. This will prevent it from burning your plants.
So there you have it – a multitude of uses for your citrus waste! Hopefully in the future you will save those precious orange peels to reduce your waste and keep your garden healthy.
Image: istockphoto.com / Qwart