20 Uses for Orange Peels in the Garden: Why Gardeners Swear By Them

Have you ever wondered if there’s more to orange peels than just a fragrant addition to your trash bin? Get ready to learn something exciting.

These humble citrus castoffs are actually a gardening superhero in disguise, packed with surprising benefits for your plants, soil, and even pest control. Recent studies have shown that orange peels contain powerful compounds that can do everything from repelling mosquitoes to fighting cancer cells.

So before you toss those peels, check out these 20 amazing ways they can revolutionize your garden!

1. Homemade Pest Repellent Spray

Image Credit: FotoHelin/Shutterstock

Bid farewell to pesky aphids, ants, and whiteflies with a DIY pest repellent spray that harnesses the power of orange peels. Simply simmer the peels in water for 10-15 minutes, let the liquid cool, strain, and transfer to a spray bottle. The citrus oils in the peels have been shown to effectively deter a wide range of common garden pests.

To use, spritz the solution directly on affected plants every 3-4 days. For extra protection, you can also scatter small pieces of fresh peel around the base of your plants. The strong scent will create an invisible barrier that bugs and small animals won’t want to cross.

A 2020 study published in the journal Biomolecules found that orange peel essential oil was particularly effective at repelling several species of mosquitoes ¹, including the notorious yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito.

2. Nutrient-Rich Fertilizer

Image Credit: Wulf Lens/Shutterstock

Don’t let those orange peels go to waste – they’re a hidden source of plant superfood! Packed with essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, orange peels can give your soil a serious boost as they break down.

To create your own all-natural fertilizer, dry out the peels completely and then pulverize them into a fine powder using a food processor or blender. Sprinkle the powder around the base of your plants and gently work it into the top layer of soil. As the peels decompose, they’ll slowly release their nutrient payload, feeding your plants and promoting healthy growth.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Recycling of Organic Waste in Agriculture ², composting orange peels with other organic waste materials resulted in a nutrient-rich compost with an ideal balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

3. Compost Pile Powerhouse

Image Credit: Alexander Knyazhinsky/Shutterstock

Calling all compost enthusiasts! If you’re serious about creating top-notch compost, you won’t want to overlook the humble orange peel. These citrus powerhouses are a fantastic addition to your compost pile, contributing valuable nutrients and improving the overall structure of the finished product.

To incorporate orange peels into your compost, simply chop them up into small pieces and toss them into your bin or pile. While citrus peels may take a bit longer to break down than other compost ingredients, they’ll add a potent burst of nutrients and help create a well-balanced, nutrient-dense compost that your plants will absolutely love.

A report by Grand View Research predicts that the global orange peel extract market will continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.7% from 2021 to 2028 , driven in part by increasing demand for natural and sustainable gardening solutions.

4. Citrus-Infused Cleaning Solution

Image Credit: this_baker/Shutterstock

Who says orange peels are just for the garden? Put those peels to work cleaning and shining your gardening tools and pots with this easy DIY citrus cleaner.

Simply fill a jar with orange peels, cover them with white vinegar, and let the mixture steep for a few weeks. Then strain out the peels and transfer the infused vinegar to a spray bottle.

The acetic acid in the vinegar will help dissolve dirt and grime, while the citrus oils from the orange peels will leave your tools smelling fresh and clean. Use this all-natural cleaner to wipe down pruners, trowels, and pots for a sparkling finish without any harsh chemicals.

As a bonus, the antimicrobial properties ³ of orange peel extract, as demonstrated in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, can help keep your tools free of harmful bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.

5. Natural Slug & Snail Deterrent

Image Credit: Zuzha/Shutterstock

Slugs and snails can be the bane of a gardener’s existence, leaving slimy trails of destruction in their wake. But did you know that orange peels can help keep these slimy critters at bay?

Slugs and snails have a strong aversion to citrus, so scattering orange peels around your most vulnerable plants can create a natural, chemical-free barrier.

For an even more potent deterrent, you can make a slug and snail repellent spray by steeping orange peels in hot water overnight, straining the liquid, and spraying it around problem areas. Just be sure to reapply after rain or watering to maintain the scent barrier.

6. Weed-Suppressing Mulch

Image Credit: Uryupina Nadezhda/Shutterstock

Weeds are the ultimate garden party crashers, popping up uninvited and stealing nutrients from your plants. But before you reach for harsh chemical herbicides, consider using orange peels as a natural weed suppressant.

Dried, ground-up orange peels make an excellent organic mulch that can help keep weeds at bay while also enriching the soil.

To make your own orange peel mulch, dry out the peels completely and then pulse them in a food processor until they reach a coarse, crumbly consistency. Spread a thick layer of the mulch around your plants, being careful not to pile it up against the stems.

The citrus oils in the peels will help deter weed seeds from germinating, while the nutrients released as the peels break down will give your plants a healthy boost.

7. Compost Tea Ingredient

Image Credit: Vasilii Kosarev/Shutterstock

Compost tea is like a nutrient-packed energy drink for your plants, and orange peels can be a key ingredient in your brew. The peels will infuse the tea with beneficial microbes and nutrients, creating a potent elixir that you can use to water your plants or apply as a foliar spray.

To make compost tea with orange peels, add a handful of torn-up peels to your compost tea bucket along with your other ingredients. Let the mixture steep for 24-48 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure even brewing.

Once the tea is ready, strain out the solids and dilute the liquid with water until it’s the color of weak tea. Your plants will thank you for this invigorating citrus cocktail!

8. Seed Starter Pots

Image Credit: Davin Eberhardt

Give your seedlings a head start on life by using orange peels as biodegradable seed starter pots. Not only will you be recycling your food waste, but you’ll also be giving your baby plants a nutrient boost as the peels decompose.

To make orange peel seed starters, carefully cut the peels in half and scoop out the fruit. Poke a small drainage hole in the bottom of each half, then fill with seed starting mix and plant your seeds.

When the seedlings are ready to graduate to the big leagues, simply plant the entire orange peel pot in the ground – the peel will break down over time, feeding the growing plant and enriching the soil.

9. Ant-Repelling Barrier

Image Credit: Davin Eberhardt

Ants can be a real nuisance in the garden, farming aphids and disrupting plants. But before you resort to harsh chemical insecticides, try using orange peels to create a natural ant barrier and keep these pesky insects away from your prized plants.

Crush dried orange peels into a powder and sprinkle it around the base of affected plants, creating a ring of citrus-scented deterrent. You can also place small pieces of fresh peel near entry points to discourage ants from venturing into your garden in the first place.

A  2017 study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology found that orange peel essential oil was particularly effective at repelling the red imported fire ant, a major agricultural pest in many parts of the world.

10. Soil pH Adjuster

Image Credit: kram-9/Shutterstock

Many plants, such as blueberries, azaleas, and camellias, thrive in slightly acidic soil. If your soil is too alkaline for these acid-loving plants, orange peels can help naturally lower the pH to a more suitable level.

To use orange peels as a soil acidifier, simply work dried, ground-up peels into the top layer of soil around your plants. The citric acid in the peels will gradually lower the pH as they decompose, creating a more hospitable environment for your acid-loving plants. Just be sure to test your soil regularly and avoid overdoing it, as too much acidity can be harmful to plants.

11. Mosquito-Repelling Candles

Image Credit: New Africa/Shutterstock

Don’t let pesky mosquitoes ruin your outdoor relaxation – put those orange peels to work as natural mosquito repellent candles! The citronella-like scent of orange oil is a proven mosquito deterrent, so these DIY candles will help keep the bugs at bay while you enjoy your garden oasis.

To make orange peel candles, dry out the peels and grind them into a powder. Mix the powder with melted beeswax or soy wax, pour into small jars or tins with wicks, and let harden. Light the candles around your outdoor seating areas to create a pleasant, mosquito-free atmosphere.

12. Deer & Rabbit Deterrent

deer garden
Image Credit: shutternelke/Shutterstock

If deer and rabbits are treating your garden like an all-you-can-eat buffet, try using orange peels to deter these hungry herbivores. The strong citrus scent is often enough to keep them from nibbling on your plants, as they find the smell unappealing.

Scatter fresh or dried orange peels around the perimeter of your garden, or tie small sachets of dried peels to stakes near particularly vulnerable plants. You can also make a citrus-scented spray by steeping orange peels in hot water, straining the liquid, and spraying it around your garden.

Just be sure to reapply after rain or watering to maintain the scent barrier.

13. Fungus Gnat Trap

Image Credit: Tomasz Klejdysz/Shutterstock

Fungus gnats can be a real headache for indoor plant enthusiasts, but orange peels can help you get rid of these annoying pests once and for all. The citrus oils in the peels attract and trap adult fungus gnats, breaking their life cycle and preventing future infestations.

To make an orange peel fungus gnat trap, place a few pieces of fresh peel, flesh-side up, on the surface of your potting soil. The gnats will be drawn to the peel and get stuck in the oils, effectively removing them from your plants. Replace the peels every few days until the infestation is under control.

14. Rodent-Repelling Sachets

Image Credit: Gallinago_media/Shutterstock.

Mice and rats can wreak havoc in the garden, gnawing on plants, roots, and even irrigation lines. But before you resort to harsh chemical rodenticides, try using the power of orange peels to deter these destructive critters and protect your plants.

Make small sachets filled with dried orange peels and place them around your garden, especially near potential entry points like fence holes or shed doors. The strong citrus scent will help keep mice and rats away, as they find the smell offensive and overwhelming. Replace the sachets every few weeks to maintain their effectiveness.

15. Fruit Fly Trap

Image Credit: SKphotographer/Shutterstock

Fruit flies buzzing around your garden can be a real nuisance, harassing you and your plants. But did you know that orange peels can be used as a natural trap for these pesky insects? Fruit flies are attracted to the fermenting sugars in citrus peels, so you can use this to your advantage.

Place a few pieces of orange peel in a small bowl or jar and cover with plastic wrap. Poke a few small holes in the plastic, and set the trap near affected plants or outdoor dining areas. The fruit flies will crawl in through the holes, attracted by the citrus scent, but won’t be able to escape, effectively reducing their numbers in your garden.

16. Rooting Hormone Booster

Image Credit: Vladimir Mulder/Shutterstock

Citrus peels contain natural compounds that can help stimulate root growth in cuttings, making them a valuable addition to your plant propagation toolkit. The oils in the peels can promote cell division and help cuttings develop strong, healthy roots.

To use orange peels as a rooting hormone booster, steep fresh peels in hot water for 24 hours. Strain the liquid and let it cool, then dip your plant cuttings in the citrus-infused water before planting in soil or water. The natural compounds in the orange peels will give your cuttings a head start on root development, increasing your chances of successful propagation.

17. Soil Solarization Aid

Image Credit: Nigel Wiggins/Shutterstock

Soil solarization is a natural method of pest and weed control that harnesses the power of the sun to sterilize the soil. Orange peels can be a helpful addition to this process, as they release compounds that can enhance the effectiveness of solarization.

Before solarizing your soil, work dried, ground-up orange peels into the top layer of soil. The citrus oils will help kill off harmful nematodes, fungi, and weed seeds as the soil heats up under the plastic sheeting. After solarization, the orange peels will break down and add nutrients back into the soil, creating a healthier growing environment for your plants.

18. Vermicompost Booster

Image Credit: Novakovav/Shutterstock

If you’re a fan of vermicomposting, you’ll be happy to know that orange peels can be a great addition to your worms’ diet. The peels provide a good balance of carbon and nitrogen, helping to create nutrient-rich worm castings that your plants will love.

To feed orange peels to your composting worms, chop them up into small pieces and add them to your worm bin in moderation. Citrus peels can be acidic, so be sure to balance them with other food scraps and bedding materials to keep your worms happy and healthy.

Your worms will process the peels into high-quality compost that will give your garden a powerful nutrient boost.

19. Seedling Fungicide

Image Credit: VH-studio/Shutterstock

Damping off is a common fungal disease that can devastate seedlings, causing them to collapse at the base of the stem. But did you know that orange peels contain natural antifungal compounds that can help prevent damping off and keep your seedlings healthy?

To make an orange peel fungicide for seedlings, steep fresh peels in hot water overnight. Strain the liquid and let it cool, then use it to water your seedlings or spray it directly on the soil surface. The citrus compounds will help protect your seedlings from fungal diseases as they grow, giving them a better chance of survival.

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that orange peel extract was effective at inhibiting the growth of several common plant pathogens, including the fungi responsible for damping off.

20. Garden Deodorizer

Image Credit: Kondor83/Shutterstock

Let’s face it – gardens can sometimes develop unpleasant odors, whether from compost piles, manure, or other organic materials. But before you reach for harsh chemical air fresheners, try using orange peels to help neutralize these smells and keep your garden smelling fresh and clean.

Dry out orange peels and grind them into a powder, then sprinkle the powder around smelly areas of your garden. The citrus oils will help mask odors and leave a pleasant, fresh scent in their place. You can also place sachets of dried peels near compost bins or other odorous spots for long-lasting odor control.

As the peels break down, they’ll release their fragrant oils, creating a natural air freshener that’s safe for your plants and the environment.

Orange You Glad You Read This

Image Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

So there you have it – 20 mind-blowing ways to use orange peels in your garden for healthier plants, fewer pests, and a more pleasant outdoor experience. From homemade pest sprays and fertilizers to natural weed suppressants and odor neutralizers, these citrus powerhouses are a gardener’s best friend.

And with recent studies showing that orange peels can do everything from fighting cancer cells to creating eco-friendly plastics, it’s clear that these humble peels are hiding some seriously impressive superpowers.

The next time you enjoy a juicy orange, take a moment to appreciate the incredible potential of the peel. With a little creativity, you can turn those leftover peels into a powerful tool for a thriving, sustainable garden. Go ahead and embrace your inner citrus superhero – your plants (and the planet) will thank you!

Website | + posts

Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.