Growing Banana Fed Staghorns: How To Use Bananas To Feed A Staghorn Fern

Growing Banana Fed Staghorns: How To Use Bananas To Feed A Staghorn Fern

By: Ilana Goldowitz Jimenez, Plant Scientist & Writer

Banana peels are rich in potassium and provide smaller amounts of manganese and phosphorus, all essential nutrients for gardens and houseplants. We would usually think of composting as the appropriate way to deliver these minerals to our plants. But what about “feeding” banana peels directly to plants?

In the case of at least one plant, the staghorn fern, adding whole banana peels is just as effective as composting them first. You can “feed” a whole peel or even a whole banana to the plant by placing it on top of the plant, among its fronds.

About Banana Peel and Staghorn Ferns

Feeding staghorn ferns with bananas is possible because of this plant’s unique lifestyle. Staghorn ferns are epiphytes, plants that grow on elevated surfaces away from contact with the soil. They produce two types of fronds: antler fronds, which stick out from the center of the fern, and basal fronds, which grow in overlapping layers and cling to the surface the plant is growing on. The upper portion of the basal fronds grows upward and often forms a cup shape that can collect water.

In nature, staghorn ferns typically grow attached to tree limbs, trunks, and rocks. In this habitat, organic materials like leaf litter collect in the cup formed by the upturned basal fronds. Water washing down from the forest canopy both hydrates the fern and brings it nutrients. Organic materials falling into the cup break down and slowly release minerals for the plant to absorb.

How to Use Bananas to Feed a Staghorn Fern

Using banana fertilizer for staghorn ferns is an easy way to maintain your plant’s health while reducing kitchen waste. Depending on the size of your fern, feed it with up to four banana peels a month to provide potassium plus smaller amounts of phosphorus and micronutrients. A banana peel is almost like a time-release fertilizer for these nutrients.

Place the banana peels in the upright portion of the basal fronds or between the fern and its mount. If you’re worried that the peel will attract fruit flies to an indoor fern, soak the peel in water for a few days, discard or compost the peel, then water the plant.

Since banana peels don’t contain much nitrogen, banana-fed staghorns should also be provided with a source of nitrogen. Feed your ferns monthly during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.

If your bananas are not organic, it’s best to wash the peels before you give them to your staghorn fern. Conventional bananas are typically treated with fungicides to control a damaging fungal disease. Since the peels are not considered edible, fungicides that are not permitted on edible parts may be allowed on peels.

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Read more about Staghorn Ferns

How to Feed Staghorn Ferns

The scientific name for the staghorn fern is Platycerium holtummii. Staghorn ferns are tropical perennials that are usually placed in moss and hung on wooden boards. The staghorn fern grows sideways unlike your average ferns. If you have a staghorn fern, you will need to know how to water and feed it. Surprisingly, one of the things staghorn ferns like to eat the most is banana peels. Banana peels are rich in potassium, which is a nutrient staghorn ferns need to stay healthy.

Water your staghorn fern once per week. In the summer you may need to increase this to twice per week. Just be careful you do not overwater your staghorn, which is a commonly made mistake.

  • The scientific name for the staghorn fern is Platycerium holtummii.
  • If you have a staghorn fern, you will need to know how to water and feed it.

Feed your staghorn fern a 5-1-1 fish emulsion fertilizer. This organic fertilizer is used on tropical plants like the staghorn fern, and is on the milder side. Follow the fish emulsion fertilizer instructions to apply it to your fern. Repeat once per month to give your staghorn fern the nutrients it needs.

Set the peel from a banana down in between the moss and the board it is mounted on. Staghorn ferns don't need to eat banana peels too often so just feed the fern one banana a month. You don't need to remove the banana peel either. It will decompose over time.

  • Feed your staghorn fern a 5-1-1 fish emulsion fertilizer.
  • Follow the fish emulsion fertilizer instructions to apply it to your fern.

Sharing Tropical Plant Experiences

If you own one of these wonderful ‘staghorn ferns’ (Platycerium) they absolutely love bananas, as do many other plants.

How to Use Bananas as Fertilizer

By an eHow Contributing Writer

Bananas are rich in both phosphorus and potassium which are important macro-nutrients plants need. Rose bushes in particular benefit from added potassium however, all potassium fertilizers are extremely expensive. Banana peels are a natural source of the phosphorus and potassium found in expensive fertilizers, but why buy when making your own banana fertilizer is as easy as tossing the skins?

Add banana peels regularly to your compost bin, if you happen to have one. The high levels of phosphorus and potassium are an essential addition to your homemade fertilizer. Whole banana peels break down fairly rapidly however for faster decomposition, cut the peels into small pieces.

Cut a banana peel into small pieces and mix them up with fresh soil for an added boost when planting a new plant. Banana peels can be mixed into the soil around plants, shrubs and trees at any time for an added fertilizer. If you happen to have access to a banana tree, add leaves, stalks and skins to your soil as well.

Toss a banana peel onto the ground around your shrubs, flowers or in your garden as an extra fertilizer every time you enjoy a banana. The peels disintegrate and are absorbed into the ground quickly.

Use small pieces of banana peels to add fertilizer to your garden mulch. When cleaning up the yard in the spring and summer, adding a boost of potassium and phosphorus rich banana peels can help your plants grow and flower better than ever.


QUESTION: I've been told to feed banana peels to my large staghorn fern. Should it also be given a regular fertilizer?

ANSWER: Banana peels can contribute lots of potassium and a little phosphorus to the nutrient needs of your staghorn fern. But they contain very little nitrogen, which also is needed for good growth.

So go ahead, toss a few banana peels among the foliage to slowly release their nutrients. To keep the plants healthy and producing plenty of new leaves, also feed monthly with a 20-20-20 or similar fertilizer.

Q: Our young bottle brush plant is thinning and developing dead areas. What's causing the decline?

A: The general decline of your plant suggests a root problem is preventing water and nutrient uptake needed to support plant growth. Most likely the bottle brush has nematodes. Dig down near the base of the plant to check for knots on the roots. If the roots are swollen, remove the plant and replace the soil before adding a new shrub.

Confederate rose declining

Q: Our Confederate rose is 5 years old and always has done well. Now it's dropping yellow leaves. What's wrong?

A: Check the soil for adequate moisture. The leaf drop suggests the plant is not getting the water it needs to maintain the foliage. Possibly the irrigation system is not hitting this part of the landscape, or the soil is repelling the moisture. Add a 3- to 4-inch mulch layer to preserve moisture, and the added organic matter also will help prevent the soil from becoming so dry that it repels water.

Q: Something is eating my young okra plants. I have fenced the garden to keep out rabbits and sprayed the plants with hot pepper. Something just ate 13 plants. What could it be?

A: Have you checked for caterpillars? Some cutworms and similar larval stages of moths are general feeders that love small tender plants. You may be able to see holes near the base of the affected plants. These could be dug out and destroyed. If needed, a dusting of Sevin or diazinon can be used to control a caterpillar infestation.

If you still think it's an animal, try dusting some talcum powder over brown wrapping paper laid near the plants during early evening. A check in the morning may show some paw prints you can identify.

Q: Have you ever tried table salt for slug control? It dissolves them away.

A: A little dab of salt or fertilizer does offer some control for slugs, but it's not for the fainthearted because they're slimy and salt causes them to twist and squirm. They can also be collected and dropped in a container of rubbing alcohol. With either of these techniques, you are eliminating only the pests you see.

Many gardeners obtain extended control by keeping a shallow tray of stale beer or a malt beverage in the garden. The slugs crawl in but not out. Also, slug baits are available from garden centers to control high populations.

Q: I have several nandinas that are dropping their leaves. They turn bright red and develop black spots. What should I do?

A: Cercospora leaf spot is a common fungal disease that affects the nandina, causing the leaves to decline and drop as you described. Gardeners can obtain control with a spray of Dithane M-45, mancozeb or a copper fungicide labeled for ornamental plantings.

Make sure the nandina plantings have adequate water and fertilizer. Weakened plants are more susceptible to leaf spot disease. Also, plants growing in an area with poor air circulation are more likely to be affected by the cercospora fungus.

Liquid fertilizer the answer

Q: I learned from experience that alyssum does not like granular fertilizer. How do you feed the plants without causing damage?

A: Tossing out dry fertilizer can cause leaves and lower stems to burn if it gets caught up within the plants. Also, globs of fertilizer may concentrate over the root system to cause plant injury. All small and dense growing plants can be damaged during feedings.

Prevent the burn by using a liquid fertilizer. It can be sprinkled over the plants then washed into the soil. If you apply granules, water after the feeding. This washes the granules off the plants and onto the soil.

Watch the video: Staghorn.......watering and my care.