Are Orange Peels Good For Compost?

If you’re a home gardener looking to reduce your waste output as much as possible while simultaneously creating nutrient-rich soil for your plants, composting is a great choice.

Turning kitchen scraps, old newspapers, and grass clippings into garden soil is a multi-beneficial process. However, not all food scraps are safe to use in your compost pile. You may wonder, then, are orange peels good for compost?

Peeling an Orange

Yes, orange peels are good for your compost pile. Orange peels are full of nitrogen, which helps to create fertile soil. They can also deter pests from visiting the compost pile. Adding too many orange peels can throw off the pH balance of your compost, so it’s important to add them in moderation.

What Benefits Do Orange Peels Offer Compost?

The greatest benefit of adding orange peels to your compost bin is the boost in nitrogen the compost receives. According to Cornell University, nitrogen helps microorganisms in compost to grow.

These microorganisms are what help to break down the compost. With an ideal level of nitrogen in the pile, your food scraps, leaves, and other composted materials will quickly transform into “black gold” that you can then spread in your garden.

Another benefit of adding orange peels to your compost pile is that they can help deter pests. Because compost piles are full of rotting food, scavengers like skunks and raccoons love to raid them.

However, these scavengers hate the scent of citrus fruits. Pests are less likely to visit if you have orange peels in your compost piles.

Can Orange Peels Help My Garden Too?

Much like orange peels can help your compost pile, they also offer benefits when added straight to your garden.

According to an article in The U.S. Sun, their high nitrogen content can act as a natural fertilizer for your soil. Cutting them into small pieces and adding them just below the surface of the soil will give your plants a boost.

They’ll also keep pests out of your garden. Many harmful insects hate the scent of citrus fruits, much like scavengers.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Adding Orange Peels To My Compost?

It turns out that there can be too much of a good thing–adding too many orange peels to your compost pile can actually have unwanted consequences.

Because orange peels are acidic, adding them to your compost pile in excess can lower the pH of your soil. If you are growing plants that thrive in acidic soils (like sweet potatoes, blueberries, or radishes), this isn’t a problem; however, if you’re growing alkaline-loving plants (like cucumbers, squash, or onions), an excess of orange peels in your compost can stunt growth.

Though orange peels are great at deterring pests, having too many orange peels in your compost can also keep away helpful insects like worms. Much like other insects, worms hate the smell of citrus fruits, so having a compost bin filled with orange peels may keep worms from visiting.

Orange peel in compost

Adding too many orange peels to your compost pile may also cause the pile to stink. While the nitrogen in orange peels is beneficial to the growth of microorganisms, an excess of nitrogen is released in the form of smelly ammonia gas.

To prevent this, it’s crucial to keep the proper ratio of carbon to nitrogen in your compost pile. Green materials (like orange peels) are full of nitrogen. Brown materials (like dry leaves, cardboard, newspapers, and hay), on the other hand, are full of carbon.

A healthy compost pile will have a carbon/nitrogen ratio of 30:1, so be sure to add some brown materials to your compost when you add orange peels to keep your pile healthy and odor-free.

Will Orange Peels Cause Mold To Grow In My Compost?

Penicillim mold commonly grows on citrus fruits, so many gardeners are concerned about this nuisance in their compost bins. However, it’s very unlikely that penicillum mold will develop on your orange peels.

When properly managed, compost piles stay incredibly hot. Penicillum mold grows best in cool environments, so it’s unlikely to thrive in a well-maintained compost pile.

Can I Use Orange Peels In Vermicompost?

No, you shouldn’t add orange peels to your vermicompost. Worms are a crucial part of vermicompost, as the worms eat the food scraps in the pile. Since worms don’t like citrus fruits, they won’t eat the orange peels. Keep your orange peels in your traditional compost piles where they won’t bother the worms.

How Do I Add Orange Peels To My Compost Pile?

Because orange peels are thick in order to protect the fruit, they take quite a while to compost. In fact, it can take whole orange peels upwards of six months to decompose.

Instead of adding them to your compost pile whole, you should cut orange peels into small pieces. This will help speed up the process of breaking down the peels, helping them decompose in as little as four months.

orange peel

If you don’t cut your orange peels into small pieces before adding them to your compost, you may find that there are still pieces of peel in your finished compost. When this happens, you have to sift the compost pile and add the orange peels to your next batch of compost. Cutting them into tiny pieces is an easy way to prevent this extra step.


Though many gardeners worry about orange peels damaging their compost, these citrus fruits are actually beneficial to the compost process when used in moderation. Their high nitrogen content helps give plants a nutrient boost while their citrus scent keeps away harmful scavengers and destructive insects. The next time you’re about to toss out your orange peels, think about adding them to your compost pile instead.

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API