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Fertilize orchids with bananas: Can banana water make an orchid bloom and is it even useful?

Banana peels are known to work wonders as an organic fertilizer in the garden. Their ability to promote flower growth is phenomenal and well known in garden centers. But is fertilizing with banana peels the best solution for orchids? Unlike ordinary houseplants, orchids have a slower growth cycle. The ethylene gas contained in banana peels stimulates abnormal growth, which is unhealthy for orchids. However, not everything in life is black or white and banana peels fall into this category. That’s why, at the end of the article, we’ll also show you a way to fertilize your orchids with bananas without harming the plants.

NPK of banana peels

use banana peels as organic fertilizer

The NPK ratio is the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer, the three main macronutrients that plants need. All fertilizers have, or should have, this ratio printed on the label. While many fertilizers have a balanced NPK ratio of 20-20-20, others have widely varying amounts. With an NPK of 11-35-15, the strongest component is phosphorus. It’s hard to find a fertilizer with a high potassium content, and banana peels are great sources of potassium. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of banana peels in crop production, such as this study published byScientific Research An Americanpublisher.(Source 1).

NPK ratio of a fertilizer explained

In studies conducted by Frontiers in Plant Science, Crop and Product Physiology, the main symptoms of potassium deficiency are aberrant growth, yellowing of the outer edge of older leaves due to the breakdown of chlorophyll, and disruption of the plant’s osmoregulation.(Source 2)

According to the study mentioned above, 75% of rice fields in China and 67% of soils in South Australia have potassium deficiency, i.e., they do not reach the desired level of 0.3 mm. This finding has led to the widespread addition of high-dose potassium fertilizer to the soil and has been transferred to home gardens worldwide.

Banana peels have an extremely high potassium content. Now you can see why it is so valued in the plant world.

Methods of using banana peel in the care of orchids.

How orchids can react badly to banana peels

Although banana peels have a high concentration of potassium, banana peels should not be used for orchid care for three reasons: (1) the ethylene gas that slows their development, (2) the fungus that grows in banana water, and (3) the natural attraction to ants and aphids. Let’s first take a closer look at the three methods of fertilizing orchids with banana peels.

1. make banana tea yourself

banana water as fertilizer for orchid

In this method, the ripe banana peels are cut into small squares and placed in a container with water. After a week, the water will turn dark brown and resemble a honey-colored solution. Due to the fermentation of the banana peels, it may have shiny white bubbles on the surface.

Potassium is quickly leached into the water, so this “tea” method has a very high potassium content. Pour off the water and remove the old, decomposed banana peels. Now comes the important part: this solution should be diluted with 2/3 clean water, and only then water the orchids.

Here is the reason why this method is bad for the orchids.

make your own fertilizer from banana peels for orchids

The white bubbles formed on the water surface means that fermentation is taking place. This creates a perfect habitat for more harmful bacteria to multiply. Where there are lots of bacteria, fungi will also grow. And then you add this water to your orchid? It may work for houseplants, but it’s very hard to get rid of this fungus in orchids, because orchids love the higher humidity. With other houseplants, the fungus will die over time. This is not the case in an orchid pot.

2. put the banana peels directly on the roots.

Make orchids bloom with banana

In this method, you can also use the same crushed banana peels and put them on the soil to decompose naturally in the pot. The real problem with this method is that ripe banana peels produce a gas called ethylene. This gas speeds up the growth process in most plants so they bloom faster and have a more vibrant, longer lasting flower. That’s wonderful, isn’t it? No, it really isn’t.

With other houseplants, the life cycle can be sped up without harming the plant. Orchids, on the other hand, are slow growing plants and this does the opposite for them.

3. dry banana peels and use them as powdered fertilizer.

Dry banana peels and turn them into fertilizer

The third method is the safest one we found in our research on banana peels and orchids. In this method, you dry the banana peels in the sun (you can also bake them) until they turn into a black, crunchy peel. Crush this peel into a fine powder and dilute it in water. With this method, the potassium content is the lowest.

How orchids can react badly to banana peel

use banana for orchids

After flowering, an orchid must focus on growing new roots – healthy new roots – not just “dangling” weak roots. The ethylene gas mentioned above will accelerate this growth process. However, ethylene does not stimulate root growth: it focuses on the flowers and seeds. The orchid’s entire reproductive cycle is stimulated to grow, causing the roots to suffer.

This is one reason why it is difficult to convince people to give up banana tea for orchids. The results in the form of flowers are there. They are visible. The flower immediately works on the development of an inflorescence, and when it is already developed, the flowers are bright and colorful. But they quickly wither. What started out as a good thing can end up killing the orchid.

All the energy that should have gone into developing strong, healthy roots or leaves was put into forming new flowers. Once the flowers have wilted, you are left with an extremely weak orchid that cannot rely on its roots.

What is the best method when using banana peels as a DIY fertilizer?

orchids to bloom banana peels

If you still want to fertilize your orchid with bananas, it is best to choose the third method. The trick is to use this type of fertilizer only when the orchid is about to or already in the flowering phase. If you fertilize the orchid with banana peel fertilizer while it is focusing on leaf growth, you will hinder the natural growth of your orchid.

You can use banana peel fertilizer if you find potassium deficiency in orchids, but this is a rarity. In one study(Source 3)it was found that all Phalaenopsis plants died at the end of each flowering cycle when a severe potassium deficiency was detected. Signs of potassium deficiency include “yellowing (chlorosis), irregular purple spots, and necrosis (dieback/browning) after budding and flowering.” In any case, banana peels would be beneficial in this case.

You can use banana peel fertilizer if you notice potassium deficiency in orchids

1. Comparative Study of Various Organic Fertilizers Effect on Growth and Yield of Two Economically Important Crops, Potato and Pea (2018) Scientific Research/ An American Publisher.
2. potassium deficiency Significantly Affected Plant Growth and Development as Well as microRNA-Mediated Mechanism in Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) (2020) Frontiers in Plant Science, Crop and Product Physiology
3 Potassium Nutrition Affects Phalaenopsis Growth and Flowering. Yin-Tung Wang (2007) American Society of Horticultural Science.