Can You Compost Citrus – Orange Peels And Lemons?

There is a commonly heard myth that you should never compost any citrus scraps, like orange peels and lemons, and there is a lot of debate going on surrounding this topic. So, you are probably left wondering if you can compost citrus leftovers, and struggling to find the right answers to your questions.

If you are someone that likes to keep on top of composting duties, you will be looking to find out if you can compost citrus, and if so, what types can be composted? The last thing that you want to do is compost something that you are not supposed to, or compost something that isn’t suitable for this purpose.

To help you to figure out what you are supposed to do when it comes to composting citrus, we are going to answer all of your questions surrounding the issue in this article. We are going to tell you exactly what citrus you can compost to eliminate any confusion that you may have.

The Citrus Composting Debate

We have previously mentioned that there is a bit of a debate going on about whether or not you can compost citrus, so we thought that we would explain this to you before we get into the subject. It is known that the worms that are used for composting often shy away from citrus until it has decomposed. 

However, citrus does not pose any threat to the composting worms, and they will eventually get around to eating it. This is something that divides a lot of people when it comes to composting citrus, and some people are unsure of how to handle the situation. 

Adding citrus to your hot or cold composting routine does come with a list of benefits, and we are going to explore this in this article. Just keep reading to find out more about the types of citrus that you can compost, the nutrients that they have to offer, and the best ways to compost them.

Can You Compost Citrus?

Yes, you absolutely can compost every type of citrus fruit including:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Clementines
  • Limes
  • Satsumas
  • Grapefruits

You can use the peels, rinds, and pulp in your compost, which is great  for those who like using their juicer frequently or enjoy having fresh fruit every day. Citrus peels fit into the green compost category, and this means that they are a source of nitrogen. 

Citrus fruits are known for taking longer than other fruits to break down. This is because only certain bacteria will break down the d-limonene chemical that can be found on the skin of the fruit. Although, even though it does take longer, it will still happen. 

A great added bonus of composting citrus fruits is how they are able to heat the pile. This is something that helps to speed up the overall decomposition process.

As well as this, the strong scent that citrus fruit adds to the compost pile can help to stop animals and bugs from getting to it. The oils in the fruit also break down fast enough that they will not be harmful to the useful insects that you want to stick around.

Are Lemon and Orange Peels Good for Composting?

Yes, lemon and orange peels make for excellent composting materials when you introduce them in the right way. Generally, lemons and oranges have specific tendencies that will either enhance or harm your compost pile, which means that you will need to use them wisely and with care.

If you were to add too much lemon waste at one time, you will raise the acidity of the pile, which will disrupt it. Bacteria can also have a hard time breaking down the bits of lemon fast enough, which could lead to an unpleasant smell in your compost.

However, there are certain plants, like rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias, that absolutely love acid-rich soil. So, using compost that has been made with lots of lemon and orange waste can be really helpful for such plants that are in your garden. 

Oranges work to introduce nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus into your compost heap, and these are all nutrients that will aid in the waste breakdown within your pile. They will also help to enrich your final compost medium.

Can I Compost Moldy Citrus Scraps?

It is understandable why you might be hesitant to add moldy citrus fruit scraps to your composting bun, but you shouldn’t worry. Rotten citrus scraps are actually great for adding to your compost as they are already starting to break down.

You should also be aware of the fact that a properly maintained compost pile will not be hot enough inside to kill off any mold spores on the citrus fruit within a short time.

However, you will need to take some extra care when you are introducing moldy citrus to your compost pile, as it is a very wet waste material. If you want to try and offset the moisture and keep your compost pile in good condition, you will need to add bulking agents, like wood chips or shredded cardboard. 

Adding moldy citrus scraps to the center of your composting pile on top of dry leaves can also help to speed up the decomposing process. You can then cover the scraps with either grass or paper.

The extra heat that this generates in the center of the pile will break down the moldy scraps in hardly any time at all.

What is the Best Way To Compost Citrus Scraps?

You should make sure to take the time to break down your citrus scraps into really small pieces. This will allow for more surface area to be exposed to bacteria within your compost pile.You should always try to balance the wet waste of your citrus fruits with an equal amount of bulking agent, like dry leaves, to help to keep your compost pile healthy.

Something else that you should keep in mind is that you will need to deal with the seeds. Hot composting piles will need to reach the temperature that will damage the weeds to keep them from germinating. Compost temperatures have a huge impact on your compos, which is important to be aware of.

Cold composting piles usually won’t generate enough heat to kill the citrus fruit seeds, and in this case, you should remove the seeds before disposal.

Otherwise, you could have plants growing all over your garden that have managed to grow from these seeds. Using moldy citrus scraps is a great way to increase the temperature of the compost, so you can wait for the fruit to go moldy before you use it.