Bananas continue their usefulness even after you've eaten the fruit, especially if you grow roses in your garden. The inedible peels provide potassium and magnesium to nutrient-hungry plants, including roses (Rosa spp), which thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 11. Some gardeners also swear by banana peels' ability to deter aphids, which are the bane of rose growers everywhere, in addition to replacing or supplementing rose fertilizer. If you're a banana lover, you have a few options for using the castoff peels to nourish and protect roses.
Prepare the Bananas
Whole peels deteriorate more slowly than strips or chunks, robbing your roses of the more immediate benefits of the decomposing plant material. Once you've peeled your banana, chop the peels into strips or chunks. This is also a good time to get rid of the blackened whole bananas you never got around to. Just chop the whole fruit, flesh and all, and mix it with the processed peels. If you don't eat bananas frequently, save the chopped pieces in the freezer, either in a jar or a tightly sealed bag.
Bury the Bananas
To feed individual rose bushes, gently remove about 1 inch of soil in a circular trench around the bush's base. After scattering the chopped peels in this circular trench, backfill it with soil and replace mulch, if necessary. The bananas break down gradually over time. When needed, add more bananas in the same way.
If you have a rose hedge, work your way along the row over the course of the growing season. Dig a short shallow trench in front of a new section of the rose hedge each day, backfilling with soil and mulch as you go. When rotting fruit makes up a portion of the rose food, digging the trench more deeply will deter foraging pests, as will mixing in wood ashes to neutralize the scent.
Make Tropical Mulch
If you have the room to spread out peels to dry them, you can make a material that mulches and nourishes your rose bushes at the same time. Spreading the peels flat on screens in a dark, dry room is the least labor-intensive method, especially if you're consuming bananas during the roses' long dormant season. You can also dry the peels in a dehydrator or in a low oven. Once you've accumulated several pounds of dried peels, grind them in a food processor. Scatter this mulch around the rose bushes in the spring.
Composting Banana Peels
Mixing chopped banana peels into the compost pile is another option for feeding rose bushes. This method is especially helpful if you either don't wish to bury the bananas around the rose bushes or don't eat enough of the fruit to make feeding individual roses worth the while.
Instead, mix the peels in with your other fruit and vegetable peelings, and toss them on the compost pile, where the peels will add their nutrients as they break down. It's best to either bury the fresh food scraps a few feet into the compost pile or mix them with wood ashes before tossing them on the pile.
Ellen Douglas has written on food, gardening, education and the arts since 1992. Douglas has worked as a staff reporter for the Lakeville Journal newspaper group. Previously, she served as a communication specialist in the nonprofit field. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Connecticut.