Did you know that some of the items we drink and eat each day actually have hidden benefits for plants?
They aren’t just ways to slake our hunger or thirst!
One of these items is a popular piece of fruit eaten worldwide… so are banana peels really good for hydrangeas?
We take a look at that question here, along with a few other items to see if they can have benefits for our plants.
So let’s get started.
Are Banana Peels Good For Hydrangeas?
Banana peels, when dried and shredded very small, can be good for your hydrangea. Sprinkle around the plant and as it decomposes it will slowly release some important nutrients into the soil, most notably potassium which helps plants flower. Other household items that can benefit hydrangea include tea leaves and eggshells. The jury is out on coffee grounds and pickle juice should be avoided.
Banana Peels Are a Great Fertilizer for Most Plants
Although commonly associated with being a quick snack for sports people and the source of many comedic falls in cartoons, bananas really are a good supplement for growing hydrangeas and many other plants.
That is because as they decompose they release potassium, phosphorus, calcium and a number of other important macronutrients into the soil, acting in a similar way to a slow-release fertilizer.
I think the one thing we all know about bananas is that they are a good source of potassium, and it is potassium that encourages flowering in plants, so that is their main benefit.
But all the other nutrients they release are good for plants too. They are even said to repel aphids from plants too, although the jury is still out on whether that is an old wives tale or not…
If you are going to use banana peels to help your hydrangeas bloom then it is important you do it properly.
You don’t simply finish your banana and then chuck the peel into your hydrangea bushes.
That could actually cause more harm than good.
You first want to let the peel dry out completely. You can do this by putting them in the sun, crisping them at a very low temperature in your oven or hanging them to dry somewhere.
When the peel is completely dried either cut it into tiny pieces of a centimeter or smaller or grind it into a powder.
Then simply sprinkle it on the ground around your hydrangeas. Its nutrients will be slowly released into the soil.
I’ve read on forums that some people also swear by planting it about three inches deep in the ground, which does the same job and supposedly repels aphids as mentioned above.
Remember banana peel should be used as a supplement to normal fertilizer, not as a replacement.
But what of some other everyday items that can be found in every home…
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Are Tea Bags Good For Hydrangeas?
Now if you are like me, you will drink AT LEAST two cups of tea a day.
But then again I am British.
However rather than throwing those old teabags in the bin, consider saving them to use on your hydrangeas, as they could be of great benefit to them.
Let me explain.
The tea leaves you find in tea bags are rich in tannic acid.
When added to soil, tannic acid can mildly lower the PH, making it slightly more acidic. Acidic soil is what the majority of hydrangeas thrive in.
Tea leaves used as mulch around hydrangeas can also keep the soil nice and moist. Again this is preferable to them.
The best way to use tea bags is to cut them open and work the leaves into the soil around the hydrangea.
If you know your tea bags are biodegradable you can also slip them under the mulch of the hydrangea.
I’ve read more than one account of a gardener saying using tea bags and tea leaves has sufficiently altered the soil acidity to change their hydrangea from pink to blue.
This is a distinct possibility as hydrangeas produce blue flowers in more acidic soil.
However using a supplement of aluminium sulfate is a more guaranteed way of ensuring your hydrangeas sport blue blooms.
It should be noted that tea bags are really only suitable to use on acid-loving plants.
Also be aware that tea does contain high levels of nitrogen, along with fluorine and manganese, which can slow plant growth in high doses.
So if you are like me and drink a lot of tea, don’t empty tea leaves from every cup of tea you have over your hydrangeas, do it in moderation!
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Are Tea Leaves Good For Hydrangeas?
For a more comprehensive answer read the section above, but yes tea leaves are good for hydrangeas.
As well as using the leaves directly on hydrangeas as described in the previous section, you can also pour any leftover stewed tea on hydrangeas.
But again don’t do this in excess, and make sure it has cooled down completely.
Are Coffee Grounds Good For Hydrangeas?
Like tea, coffee grounds are also rich in nitrogen and tannic acid along with a long list of other substances.
However unlike tea, the effectiveness of coffee grounds as a supplement to encourage hydrangeas to grow is more debatable.
The theory put out there by many is that coffee grounds are highly acidic and that this benefits plants like hydrangeas who love acidic soil.
Their acidity will apparently lower the pH level of soil sufficiently to change the color of pink hydrangeas to blue.
The reality is much hazier.
Some experts say coffee grounds are highly acidic, others say they are not acidic, and some say they are slightly acidic, but that their effect doesn’t last.
Their presence could also have a detrimental effect on the levels of nitrogen in the soil, making it unavailable to your hydrangea as the grounds decompose.
If you intend on using coffee grounds to give your hydrangea a boost I would suggest you proceed with caution initially.
Add a small amount to the soil and see if it has any effect, and then decide what to do from there.
Sorry I cannot be any more help here but I have never been a coffee drinker so can’t give first-hand experience on whether coffee grounds are good for hydrangeas.
Are Eggshells Good For Hydrangeas?
Eggshells consist almost completely of calcium carbonate.
Calcium carbonate is something that plays a vital role in keeping the bones and muscles in our body strong and healthy.
It does the same for plants. A good dose of calcium will be beneficial for the strength and growth of your hydrangeas.
The best way to use eggshells to benefit your hydrangeas is in powder form.
First, you will need to sterilize the empty shells by covering them in water and boiling them for five minutes.
Then remove them from the water and leave them to dry.
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When they are completely dry, grind them into powder form and sprinkle them around your hydrangea.
The calcium will slowly be absorbed by your plants.
You should also note that eggshells will also slightly change the pH level of your soil, making it less acidic.
This means if you are hoping to grow blue hydrangeas it is less likely as they prefer more acidic soil.
Another use for crushed eggshells is as a slug or snail deterrent.
Because they are soft-bodied these mollusks will avoid the sharp edges of any shells. Obviously if you are using eggshells for this purpose you will have to make sure you don’t crush them too finely.
Is Pickle Juice Good For Hydrangeas?
Pickle juice definitely falls on the “I would not use on hydrangeas” side of the argument for me.
The idea is that the vinegar in pickle juice will give a boost to acid-loving plants like hydrangeas.
In practice that might be true, it might help acidify the soil.
However, I see two main problems here.
Firstly pickle juice contains a lot of salt, which could pull water from the soil. This isn’t good as hydrangeas love soil that is constantly moist.
Secondly, vinegar is a known herbicide that is used to kill weeds organically. I will be extremely cautious about adding it to your soil unless there is a known pH issue you need to fix.
I would avoid using pickle juice on your hydrangeas.
We covered a few off-label uses of household products in your garden here, so what really stands up to the test and could provide some benefit to your hydrangeas?
In my opinion banana peels, tea leaves and eggshells are all good to one degree or another for your hydrangea.
Coffee grounds I am honestly not sure on and pickle juice I would steer clear of.
But none of these is a replacement for regular watering and using good, organic fertilizer.
They are all just supplements that can add extra benefits to an already well-established care routine for your hydrangea.