What to do with orange peels when gardening — experts reveal the 3 super powers of citrus for your blooms

If you're not sure what to do with orange peels, gather them and head for your backyard blooms

Oranges and orange peels on a sage green background
(Image credit: Getty Images/mrs)

Snackers might not know what to do with orange peels, but gardeners certainly do. 

Time after time, this overlooked portion of the fruit ends up in the trash, but it's capable of making a substantial difference to the blooms in your backyard. Our gardeners reveal how to use your peels to boost nutrients next time you indulge in a little vitamin C.

Since a few horticultural helpers might be lurking in your fruit bowl, learn a little bit more about how to supercharge your blooms as as you weigh up different small garden ideas.

What to do with orange peels in the garden

Even if you're still figuring out what can be planted in April, keep your orange peels close by for the next time you're going to get your hands dirty. 

"Orange peels can be a great addition to your garden, offering several benefits," says Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal

Sounds like it's time to find your gardening gloves, right? (CoolJob Gardening Gloves on Amazon continue to remain customer favorites with 5,000+ purchases in the past month alone.) 

1. Use orange peels in compost

No need to keep wondering what to do with orange peels when they're actually very in demand in the dirt, quite literally. 

"Incorporating them into a compost heap is a more balanced approach, as it prevents any negative effects on the soil's pH balance from the acidity of the peels," Gene adds. 

Good job the experts have already filled us in on how to make compost and what can and can't go in a compost bin.

2. Use orange peels to deter pests

If you're constantly looking for a fly swatter, here's what to do with orange peels: use them in your square-off against creepy crawlers. 

"[Orange peels] can also be placed around plants or in the soil to help deter unwanted pests since most are put off by the smell of citrus," says Paris Lalicata, a community associate and plant education director at The Sill

More food for thought: additional non-toxic pest control solutions for planet-friendly gardening. Going green can go a long way. 

3. Use orange peels to enrich the soil

If you're still unsure what to do with orange peels, let the soil soak in their goodness.

"Just adding orange peels to your soil helps to add more organic matter into your garden as it breaks down overtime which improves soil structure, as well as nutrient availability," Paris says. 

Gene notes that it might even reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, so why not try the natural route?

Quick tips

Now that you know what to do with orange peels when gardening, it's time to take note of what not to do, lest you want to disrupt your gardening feng shui

"Orange peels can add acidity to the soil, so you may want to be more mindful of which plants to put these around," Paris adds. "If the orange peels weren't from organic oranges or those not treated with pesticides or chemicals, you could be introducing those chemicals into your soil." 

And though the citrus is a no-go for some pests, it could be an open invitation for others, depending on how much you put in the garden. 

"Avoid placing large amounts of orange peels directly on the surface without breaking them down, as they can attract unwanted pests like ants," Gene adds.

Now that you're armed with tips and ready to choose your garden plants, don't forget to make a pitstop down the produce aisle for a few of those citrussy natural helpers.

Gene Caballero
Gene Caballero

Gene Caballero is co-founder of Green Pal, a platform connecting customers to lawn care experts in their area throughout the United States. With such diverse areas to cover, Gene is well-versed in specific greenery needs for various environments. 

smiling headshot of Paris Lalicate from The Sill holding a potted plant
Paris Lalicata

Paris is a community associate and plant education director at The Sill, which was founded on the notion that plants make us happier, healthier humans. The self-taught expert has over 200 plants in her own collection, so she's the perfect go-to for those who need assistance with their plants. 

As it turns out, your kitchen is packed with plenty of useful items for your garden beds. Learn how to use tea bags in gardening and how to use coffee grounds in gardening.

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.