Can You Compost Citrus? A Complete Guide To Composting Citrus Fruit And The Peels

When it comes to composting, many people wonder if they can include citrus fruit and peel in their compost piles. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are popular choices for refreshing drinks and culinary delights.

However, their acidity and slow decomposition rate raise questions about their suitability for composting. In this article, we will explore the topic of composting citrus, its benefits, challenges, and offer valuable tips for incorporating citrus into your composting routine.

Understanding Composting

Composting is a natural process that converts organic waste into nutrient-rich soil amendment. It involves the decomposition of various organic materials, such as kitchen scraps, yard waste, and plant matter, through the action of bacteria, fungi, worms, and other microorganisms.

Composting is an environmentally friendly way to reduce waste, enrich the soil, and promote sustainable gardening practices.

Composting Process

The composting process requires a balanced combination of carbon-rich (browns) and nitrogen-rich (greens) materials, along with moisture and oxygen.

Browns include items like dried leaves, straw, and cardboard, while greens consist of kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and fresh plant material. These ingredients provide the necessary carbon and nitrogen for the microorganisms to thrive and break down the organic matter.

Citrus in Composting

Citrus fruits and peels can be added to a compost pile or bin. However, due to their high acidity and slower decomposition rate, they should be used in moderation.

The acidic nature of citrus can affect the pH balance of the compost, potentially inhibiting the activity of beneficial microorganisms. Additionally, the waxy nature of citrus peels can take longer to break down compared to other organic materials.

Challenges with Composting Citrus

Composting citrus does come with some challenges. The high acidity of citrus fruit can create an imbalance in the compost pile, which may hinder the decomposition process. It is crucial to maintain a proper balance between acidic and alkaline materials in your compost to ensure optimal conditions for decomposition.

Another challenge is the slow decomposition rate of citrus peels. They can take several months or even longer to break down completely. If you desire faster composting results, it’s recommended to chop the citrus peels into smaller pieces before adding them to the compost pile. This will increase their surface area, allowing for quicker decomposition.

Tips for Composting Citrus

To successfully compost citrus, consider the following tips:

  1. Moderation: Use citrus fruit and peels in moderation to prevent an imbalance in the compost pile. While citrus adds valuable nutrients to the compost, its high acidity can affect the pH balance. Aim to include citrus as a smaller portion of your overall compost ingredients.
  2. Balance: Maintain a proper balance between acidic and alkaline materials in your compost to ensure optimal decomposition conditions. To counteract the acidity of citrus, incorporate a variety of other organic materials, such as vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, or grass clippings, which are more alkaline.
  3. Chopping: Chop citrus peels into smaller pieces before adding them to the compost pile to increase their surface area and speed up decomposition. Smaller pieces break down faster and are more easily processed by microorganisms. You can use a knife or kitchen scissors to cut the peels into smaller segments.
  4. Mixing: Incorporate citrus fruit and peels with other compostable materials to distribute the acidity evenly throughout the compost. Avoid adding large clumps of citrus in one area of the pile. Instead, intersperse the citrus scraps with other organic matter to create a more balanced mixture.
  5. Layering: Alternate layers of citrus with other organic materials when building your compost pile. This layering technique ensures that the composting process is well-distributed and helps prevent the formation of compacted sections. For example, start with a layer of browns (carbon-rich materials) like dried leaves or straw, then add a layer of citrus, followed by a layer of greens (nitrogen-rich materials) like grass clippings or vegetable scraps.
  6. Moisture Management: Citrus peels have a tendency to dry out and slow down the decomposition process. Ensure that your compost pile maintains adequate moisture by regularly checking its moisture levels. If the pile feels dry, add water to moisten it, but be careful not to make it too wet as excessive moisture can lead to anaerobic conditions.
  7. Aeration: Proper aeration is crucial for composting citrus efficiently. Turn or mix the compost pile regularly using a garden fork or compost turner to introduce oxygen. This allows for better circulation and promotes the activity of aerobic microorganisms, which are essential for decomposition.
  8. Patience: Keep in mind that citrus peels generally take longer to decompose compared to other organic materials. Be patient and allow enough time for the composting process to break down the citrus fully. Regularly monitor the compost pile’s temperature, moisture, and overall progress to ensure it is functioning optimally.

By following these tips, you can successfully compost citrus while maintaining a healthy and balanced compost pile. Remember to adjust the quantity of citrus based on the size of your composting system and the amount of other organic materials available.

With time, you will create nutrient-rich compost that benefits your garden and reduces waste in an environmentally friendly way.

Composting Citrus Peel

If you want to focus specifically on composting citrus peels, there are a few additional considerations. Firstly, ensure that the compost pile is adequately moist, as citrus peels have a tendency to dry out. Secondly, consider using a compost bin or tumbler that provides better aeration and faster decomposition.

Lastly, you can also consider using citrus peels as a natural pest deterrent in your garden by placing them around plants that are susceptible to pests.


In conclusion, composting citrus is indeed possible, but it requires some attention to maintain a healthy compost pile. Moderation, balance, and patience are key when incorporating citrus fruit and peels into your composting routine.

By following the tips mentioned in this article, you can effectively compost citrus and contribute to sustainable gardening practices while enriching your soil.


Can I compost whole citrus fruits?

Yes, you can compost whole citrus fruits. However, it’s best to cut them into smaller pieces to speed up the decomposition process.

Is it necessary to remove citrus seeds before composting?

No, citrus seeds can be composted along with the rest of the fruit or peel. They will decompose over time.

Can I use compost with citrus in my garden?

Yes, compost that includes citrus can be used in your garden. The acidity of citrus will become more balanced as it decomposes, making it safe for plants.

How long does it take for citrus peels to compost?

Citrus peels can take several months or longer to fully decompose. Chopping them into smaller pieces can help speed up the process.

Can I compost other citrus-related waste, such as lemon rinds or orange pulp?

Yes, lemon rinds, orange pulp, and other citrus-related waste can be composted along with citrus fruit and peels.