Some worms are very beneficial to the plants in your garden as they help to aerate your soil, while others will cause havoc. Although potted plants rarely get attacked by worms, some worms will still find their way into the plants.
Worms can lead to the decline of your plant’s health because they nibble on your plant’s roots, especially if the soil doesn’t contain any decaying plant matter. The most common worms you’ll find in your potted plants are earthworms, composting worms like red wigglers, and cutworms.
There are many methods that you can use to get rid of worms in your potted plants and one of the most effective ways is to feed your plants with the right fertilizer which will keep them safe from worm attack. And in case they get attacked, they can easily defend themselves and recover quickly.
How to get rid of worms in your potted plants
- Check your plants carefully
By visually inspecting your plants, you can know where the worms are and easily get rid of them. Some worms will attack the leaves while others attack the roots. If you suspect your plant’s roots have been attacked, you should dig out the soil, but be careful not to break the roots.
- Use sterile potting soil
The normal soil contains disease-causing organisms and worm eggs which isn’t ideal for potted plants. Potting soil should be sterile to help the young seedling thrive without being attacked by pests or diseases. If your potted plants have been invaded by pests and diseases, you should consider re-potting the soil with sterilized soil.
You can also sterilized your garden soil by heating small amounts in the microwave for 20 minutes, or place the moist soil in a pan and cover it with aluminum foil, and heat it to 180 degrees F. in the oven.
- Keep your garden clean
A tidy garden will discourage worms from invading your plants. Remove mulch and dry leaves in your potted plants because it’s the most common food source for most worms.
Also, space your potted plants to ensure there are enough light penetration and air circulation. Crowded plants provide good hiding areas for worms.
- Feed your plants correctly
By providing your plants with the right fertilizer, you’re helping to keep them from worm attacks, and in case they get attacked, they have a better chance of fighting and recovering quickly.
- Water your plants properly
Giving your plants the right amount of water helps to keep pests and diseases away from your plants.
However, if you over-water them, you’re creating a moist and soggy environment for pests can thrive in. at the same time, under-watering will weaken your plants and limit their ability to fight worm infestation and infections.
Natural ways to get rid of pesky insects in your plants
Insects and pests
Way of eliminating them
Aphids and spider mites
5 tablespoons of dish soap and 4 cups of water and spray on the plants to dehydrate them
Aphids, mites, and soft-bodied insects
Neem oil spray
Snails and slugs
Beer, grapefruit, or orange rinds
Spider mites and other insects
Black pepper, chili pepper, paprika, dill, and ginger mixed with dish soap and water
Common worms that affect potted plants
When you’re growing indoor plants, the absence of beneficial insects that feed on worms and the warm temperatures create a conducive environment for worms to thrive.
Nematodes attack and damage the leaves, roots, and stems of your potted plants. If they’re in small numbers, they don’t do significant damage, but if it’s an invasion, the worms will eventually kill your plants.
When they attack your plant’s roots, they reduce their ability to absorb water and other essential nutrients. Nematodes also love soggy soil and to avoid this situation and protect your plants, you need to avoid overwatering your potted plants. Also, clean your garden tools after use to avoid transferring the worms from one pot to the next. Also, plant nematode-resistant seedlings and add compost and peat moss to your soil to ensure the soil has balanced water retention.
These are common worms you’ll find in potted plants, gardens, or soil in the field. They’re commonly plant-friendly as they help to fertilize and improve the quality of your soil by naturally decomposing organic matter in your soil.
However, earthworms can heavily infest the soil causing soil erosion and leaching of nutrients. You can put earthworms in potted plants because they usually don’t feed on live plants but feed on decomposing bacteria and fungi.
Cutworms are the larval stage of moths and mostly feed on plants like tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, and corn pepper. You’ll find them mostly in a curled position when they’re not feeding on the plants, especially on young seedlings or the lower side of the mature stem.
Although fully matured moths are harmless to your plants, cutworms can cause serious damage, especially if they’re in large numbers. If only a few cutworms have invaded your plants, you can easily pick them out using gloves at night when they’re not active, or spray the affected plants with a mixture of dish soap and water. You can also use chemical pesticides to kill the worms.
Millipedes usually have many legs and are brown in color. They thrive in damp and dark environments and invade both indoor and outdoor plants.
You can get rid of them by either handpicking them if they’re not many or using insecticide. You can also remove the mulch and dry leaves in your potted plants so they don’t attack your plants because they love feeding on dry plant material. They also love moist places and using a dehumidifier will remove the excess moisture in your home.
Worms can be very beneficial to your garden or potted plants as they provide nutrients and help to aerate the soil, however, worms can also be detrimental to the health of your plants, especially if they nibble on your plant’s roots. You can prevent worms from invading your potted plants by using natural remedies or chemicals to repel or kill the worms.
Are worms a sign of good soil?
Earthworms thrive in moist soil that has enough organic matter for food. They help with improving water retention, soil structure, nutrient cycling, and plant growth, and are a good sign of healthy soil.
How long can worms live?
Worms can live for as long as 4 years and when they die, their bodies decay and decompose and are recycled by other worms along with other food scraps.