Placing citrus in compost is believed not to be possible, as many people think that to compost citrus fruits like lemons in compost bins or oranges in compost boxes can be harmful to the pile.

Citrus in Compost PlantAmerica

This is because citrus peels in compost contain so much acidity that they can damage the soil and its beneficial residents.

However, composting citrus fruits can transcend to become an art form for many expert composters, with many frequently composting orange peels or lemon bits. So, you should keep reading this article in order to learn how to effectively and safely compost orange peels and even compost citrus fruits, such as lemons and grapefruits.

Can You Compost Citrus Fruits?

Yes, you can compost citrus fruits, despite the fact that the acid content can endanger the composting environment. Many gardeners have successfully incorporated citrus bits into composts. Expert gardeners have learned the secrets of composting citrus fruits, and here are some of their most rewarding tried and tested methods.

Read on as we answer more the acidity question with regards to compost, along with ways to be more conscious with your composting.

– Can Acidity Affect Your Compost Along With Anything Else?

Acidity can affect the environmental pH level of the compost, so there is a slight validity to that concern. That said, we should take into account several factors that may play an important role in whether citrus peels will be harmful to composting:

Acidity Affect on Compost PlantAmerica

  • Amount: Composting enthusiasts should remember that small bits of citrus peels that get tossed into compost bins will not be detrimental to the whole pile. However, large and regular amounts of citrus peels and bits will definitely cause a high acid content in the composting bin. Despite this, special compost piles that have high acidity levels may be used for plants that prefer acid-rich soils and fertilizers.
  • Size: The bigger the citrus peels are, the longer they will take to decompose. To ensure a quicker decomposition process, the citrus peels should be ideally cut into small pieces. Discarded fruit materials from juicing equipment decompose faster than a whole piece of citrus fruit peel.
  • The rule of thirds: There is a trinity that is essential to the overall success of a good compost mixture. When enacted, these three materials form wonderful organic fundamental supplements for healthy plants and soil.

– The Rule of Thirds in Composting Explained

This rule can be easy to remember if we consider three things in terms of color.

Brown materials are made up of leaves, branches, and twigs. Some composters add straw to help with providing more oxygen to the pile. Brown matter is typically the dry part of the composting trinity.

Rule of Thirds in Composting PlantAmerica

Green materials comprise table scraps, which include citrus peels. This group can include coffee grounds and tea leaves. What’s more, these materials provide nitrogen to the composting pile.

Blue represents the water aspect of the compost, which provides balance to the whole pile.

Brown and green matter should ideally be added in equal parts. Brown matter provides oxygen, and green materials provide nitrogen.

Water, either hosed weekly or through regular rainfall, helps break down both brown and green matter.

Types of Citrus Fruits That Can Be Composted

There is actually no limit to the type of citrus fruits that can be placed inside a compost bin. The most common citrus fruits are lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruits.

Moreover, citrus peels, rinds, and pulp can be added to your compost pile. Although the acidity of the fruits can make them take a little longer to break down, this process can be hastened when they are composted in smaller pieces. The discarded material from juicing equipment yields the best texture and size.

Adding Citrus Peels to Vermicompost

Some gardeners think that citrus peels can harm worms. This misguided belief may come from the observation that worms will eat citrus peels only if they have started to partially decompose. This is something that could lead to a slower breakdown of green matter.

Citrus Peels to Vermicompost PlantAmerica

While not entirely harmful, adding citrus peels to vermicompost should not be in done large and frequent doses. We recommend adding citrus peels regularly only to traditional composting bins rather than to vermicompost.

How Long Do Citrus Fruits Take to Break Down: Explaining Compost

Citrus peels can take up to six months to fully break down. However, under ideal compost conditions and in small pieces, orange peels can decompose in less time.

Moreover, there are several factors that come into play when it comes to decomposing acidic organic materials, such as citrus peels. These factors include the compost environment, the size of citrus bits, and the frequency of turning the compost pile.

– Turning the Compost Pile

Every few weeks or so, the compost pile should be turned over. This causes all the materials to come into contact with oxygen, balancing the nitrogen and enhancing the decomposition process.

Turning the Compost Pile PlantAmerica

Some composting enthusiasts place coarse organic materials in the pile, such as straw, which they claim can increase the nitrogen level. This additional method also lessens the need to turn over the compost pile.

– Can I Add Citrus Fruits that Are Starting to Get Moldy?

While moldy fruits are in the fantastic process of decomposition, care should be exercised when adding them to your compost pile. Moldy citrus fruits are extremely wet materials and may need additional dry ingredients, such as wood chips or shredded cardboard, to offset the excess moisture.

Another method to hasten the decomposition process of moldy citrus fruit bits is to add these on top of dry leaves at the center of your compost pile. You can cover these citrus bits with paper or grass, which generates heat to break them down faster.

Hydrated white lime can also be added to the mix to lessen the acidity of the citrus fruits.


The oil in citrus peels helps discourage animals and unbeneficial insects from foraging in the bin.

Also, the citrus oils are quick to dissipate and do not harm the beneficial insects that help decompose the organic materials.

Benefits of Compost Pile PlantAmerica

Certain plants, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, camellias, daffodils, blueberries, and nasturtiums, thrive in acid-rich soils. So, composts made with lemon and orange bits give these plants the much-needed nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

Another benefit that you should keep in mind is that composts that include citrus fruits have the effect of warming the compost pile up, which in turn makes the whole process go even faster than it would if you only used one type of compostable material!

Lastly, while citrus peels and parts can take a little more time than other table scraps to break down, this shouldn’t stop you from adding them to your compost piles. As long as you remember to keep everything in moderation, you can begin to safely compost citrus fruits into your compost piles without worry or apprehension.

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