Is it ok to put earthworms in potted plants?


Potted plants have been amazing additions to your home or office. They serve to clean the air within our homes, provide for oxygen, and be beautiful bursts of nature that we can look at and be happy about. However, finding earthworms among our potted plants may make us feel less happy about the situation, and we will be further explaining how it went into the soil and should stay.

Earthworms are effective in conditioning the soil and enhancing its drainage. However, it is not recommended to add the worms in the potting soil since their casting benefits the potted plants only if they have something to eat, lest they feed on the plant’s roots.

Read on to find more about these creatures and just how they can affect the growing process of your potted plants

Earthworms and what they are

Earthworms are invertebrates that burrow into the soil and aerate it, and this also causes the hastening of the decomposition rate of matter, which is highly nutritious for plants. During their burrowing process, they eat and discard their own weight of food and soil daily and often feed on decayed plants and other organisms.

The Earthworm plows the whole world with his tunnels, drains and aerates the earth… If you ever buy any land, be sure it has plenty of Earthworms toiling and moiling all day so that you can sit down and relax.


— Will Cuppy, How to Attract the Wombat (2002)

Earthworms are diverse in species and with different soil effects. The red wigglers are regarded as epigenic for their shallow-soil burrowing habit, while the common earthworm is considered anecic for its deep-soil burrowing habit.

In both, their castings are beneficial if they get enough material to feed on in the potting soil; otherwise, they turn on the plant’s young roots and consume them.

How Did Worms Get Into My Potted Plants?

The likelihood that you might find worms in your potted plants is when the plants were outdoor during the summer. Worms become prisoners in the potting soil after crawling in it while outside, but the pot is brought back indoors in the fall.

Pot worms are always present in the soil in smaller fractions than what could be seen when they multiply upon getting hospitable.

White tiny worms come from the fungus gnat larvae while the black fly flies about or crawls in your plant. They eat the organic materials in the plant or even the root tissues of the young plants.

Should I Put Worms In My Planter?

With the idea that worm castings are essential for houseplants, you do not require an entire worm to be in the pot. Worms in their natural habitat know when to move in the soil’s cool or warm points for their survival.

It might be cumbersome to survive in the indoor plants’ condition due to the inconsistency in the cooling and heating systems. Nevertheless, there is an alternative if you consider the castings of the worm.

You can get a starter culture for the castings by obtaining a worm factory then put the castings on the plants. Direct your energy in a vermicomposting worm bin.

Do Worms Eat Plant Roots?

Although the worms are beneficial to the soil and, most importantly, the plant in:

• Provision of castings to offer micro and macronutrient fertilizers helpful to the plant’s growth.

• As the worms burrow through the soil, they help soil’s aeration and enable more leisurely soaking water to the entire soil composition and firm root growth.

• They help in maintain slight acidic soil conditions, which is suitable for most plants.

Despite the above worm importance, the worms can be very hazardous if they fail to feed on the soil. They are likely to turn to the young plant roots and eat, which can be a disadvantage that will cause the plant to die.

How to Get Rid Of Worms Out Of My Potted Plant Naturally?

Though the potted plants seem to have a natural barrier to worms, these beneficial pests can still maneuver their way into your potting soil, posing a threat to the potting soil and the plant itself.

Once you notice there are worms in the pot, you can use the following natural methods to get rid of them, they include:

Repotting the potted plant can help with ridding of worms

Worms like the red wigglers are likely to be seen on the soil’s surface when in large numbers. Repot the plant to give it fresh soil, and when you spot the worms wiggling, use tweezers or your fingers to remove them manually.

Rinse the roots to remove any potential eggs or worms hanging on them to reduce the risk of transferring them to the new pot.

It is also highly beneficial for potted plants to change their soil, preferably yearly, to aerate the soil and provide air in the root system. Changing the soil too allows for the removal of high phosphorus content, and all this and more on the reasons as to why potted plants should have their soil changed is covered in this article that I wrote. Feel free to check it here.

One way to rid worms from your potted plant is through soaking the plant

Though the worms love soil in moist conditions, they do not prefer being submerged. Therefore, if you have worms in your potting soil, remove the plant from the pot and submerge it in warm water for about twenty minutes.

The worms will try to escape, and you remove them and put them in a compost bin. This method is suitable for harmful worms.

Ways to Prevent Worms From Coming Again?

After successfully managing to get rid of the worms, the next thing is to ensure they do not return. Below are ways to achieve this objective:

Soak your houseplant in warm water to rid your potted plants from worms

Ascertaining that you soak your houseplant in warm water for about twenty minutes before bringing it indoors. Soaking it in warm water will encourage the worms to flee but will not actually bring harm to them.

Don’t take your potted plant outside and if you do, seclude it from your other potted plants

Avoid taking outside the indoor plants, especially in places with many worms or organisms that can bring about worm growth. However. If you do have to bring them outside during the soaking process so that they won’t cause a mess within your home, make sure to keep a close eye on those plants for worms before bringing them in.

It is best to initially seclude houseplants brought outside from other houseplants for about a week or two.

Create a barrier around your potted plant to rid it of worms and also look into using diatomaceous earth

Build a barrier at the base of the pot to prevent pests like worms from invading the plant. This can be done by putting skewers, toothpicks, or small sticks surrounding the plant base to put a barrier and have less contact with the worm and the plant.

One very effective way of discouraging worms in your soil is by apply diatomaceous earth at the bottom of the plant. Any contact with the worms on this powder will cause the dehydration of their exoskeleton and ultimately lead to them being gone.

While this may seem to be a harsh experience for worms, it is assured that diatomaceous earth is perfectly safe for human handling and is actually considered a safe pesticide.

Use coffee grounds to rid your potted plants from worms

One inexpensive way of keeping worms at bay is using coffee grounds in the soil. The texture and feel of these grounds on the worm’s skin cause irritation, so they often stay away from it. Just sprinkle them around your plants.

Keep the plant healthy is one amazing way to get rid of worms from your potted plants

You will be killing two birds with one stone while ensuring this step. Ensure your plant is healthy because healthier plants have strong immunity and are not attractive to worms. The lack of dead materials or roots will not encourage the thriving of the worms.

Choose a proper pot for your potted plant and the repotting time

Choose pots that have good holes for drainage. It is said that terracotta and ceramic pots are also good choices for pots, especially since the first one also helps with the humidity levels inside the pot.

It is also highly advisable to do your plant repotting or turning in the spring to evade the eggs from hatching. Hopefully, such actions will lessen the soil’s sogginess and prevent it from being a good breeding ground for eggs of worms.

Types of Worms in Your Potted Plants That You Should Know

There are also different types of worms that can be found in your potting soil, and we will be looking into what they look like for easier ways of removal and eviction, as described previously.

1. Pot-worms

Pot-worms are small white worms often found in the pots and can be mistaken for baby-wrigglers, but they are different.

While finding pot worms can be greatly beneficial for your compost, the same can not be said if found in your potted plant soil.

These worms can bring about benefits through their burrowing activity because it causes the mixing of matter and soil and promotes the decomposition of organic matter. They are also known to thrive in wet and cold ecosystems that are organically rich with low ph levels.

2. Red wigglers

Red wigglers are primarily effective in decomposing material into fertilizer. They thrive in warm habitats. These worms feed on both dead and living root tissue, making them harmful to potted plants.

The consumption of these plant roots will affect plant growth altogether, and one should never have a large population of them in a plant pot so as not to cause harm and disaster to your plant.

3. Grub worms

Grub worms are the larvae stage of beetles. They are a very harmful type of worms, often C-shaped and about two to three centimeters. These worms, just like the red wigglers, also attack and consume plant roots, making them a menace to potted plants.

One way to combat the infestation of these would be to make sure that your soil is not wet. Wet soil, as it turns out, encourages perfect egg-laying situations.

Conclusion on is it okay to put earthworms in potted plants?

To sum up, the earthworms are crucial if placed in the potting soil because there is decomposition plant matter available to feed the son. However, because the worms eat decaying matter, they may feed on young plant’s dead or living root tissues.

When the root system is interfered with, it might negatively influence the growth process of the roots. Thus it can be a problem only if there are many worms in a single pot. Consider using the listed preventive measures to keep your plant healthy and decorating.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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