Can You Put Earthworms in Potted Plants? The Pros and Cons

When beginner gardeners see worms around our garden, the first thing we do is find ways to get rid of them. After all, aren’t they like gross pests that mooch off our plants?

Not really! Not all worms are created alike, and earthworms, in particular, can actually be quite beneficial to certain plant varieties. That’s why you may find some gardeners putting a few earthworms in their plants.

But wait! Can you put earthworms in potted plants? Read on to find out.

can you put earthworms in potted plants

Can You Put Earthworms in Potted Plants?

Yes, you can put earthworms in potted plants! The real question is, does this provide any benefits, and is it worth the effort?

Yes again! Your soil doesn’t need to be completely sanitized and free from any life.

Normally, earthworms don’t pose harm or danger to plants. Rather, they are beneficial, aerating soil through the tunnels they make, enriching it with castings.

The typical earthworm has different habits compared to worms for composting. They dig deep burrows and visit the soil surface to find food during the night, burrowing down to 6 feet deep. There is also such a thing as composting worms like red wigglers, which don’t burrow deeply and consume decomposing materials near the surface, turning them into worm castings that give the soil beneficial nutrients.

Both earthworms and composting worms are different based on habits, particularly in where they usually frequent and how deep they burrow. When either of them is placed in the soil of potted plants, it can benefit the soil, provided that there are decaying plant materials for them to consume.

Both worm types feed on both living and dead root tissue, which may end up negatively affecting plant growth if the burrows would disrupt the root growth process. However, this only happens if there are too many worms in one plant pot. This is why it’s important to only put the right amount of worms in your potted plants if you plan to do so.

The Benefits of Earthworms in Potted Plants

When you see an earthworm or red wiggler in your potting soil, you can even place it in your worm bin to help decompose your kitchen waste into nutritious fertilizer for the plants. Or, you can let it stay in the pot, as they are also beneficial for container plants. Here are the benefits these worms have to offer for your potted plants:

  • They provide better air circulation
  • Earthworms can help increase the nutrient breakdown in plants
  • There will be less potting soil compaction
  • They help in maintaining slightly acidic soil, which is necessary for most plant varieties

So if you don’t have a composting bin with red worms, it’s time you do so now to help create quality compost for potted plants or to place in potted plants themselves.

Worm bins are also a great alternative compared to placing worms directly on potted plants, as it provides nutrient-rich substances to mix into your potted plant soil. Worm bins are ventilated containers deep enough for worms not to climb out, where you simply add a worm bedding made of shredded and crumpled newspaper with corrugated cardboard for them to burrow in. Add a bit of soil or crushed eggshells for their digestion, then throw in food scraps and decaying matter for worms to do their job in vermicomposting and turning your trash into plant food treasure.

But again, do NOT add too many worms per pot, just a few. Furthermore, don’t add worms in too-small pots, they do better in 1-gallon pots or bigger. When placing worms in the pot, be sure to loosen the topsoil slightly, then covering the worms with a bit of soil, as they would want to get into the soil, away from sunlight quickly.

You can find worms in the local park, gardens, or purchase them from gardening stores, if possible. But if you find too many worms in potted plants, you may want to take a few of them away for your plants’ health, since they can still get into the roots of your plants.

Wrapping It Up

There are many different kinds of worms, with earthworms providing benefits to your plants, from improved air circulation to soil maintenance. However, you have to make sure that you place earthworms in your plants properly, and in the right amounts. That way, you and your plants can reap the full benefits having these worms offer.

I hope that this article answered your question ‘can you put earthworms in potted plants?’ Now that you know the answer, see if you should be placing earthworms in your plants today or if you can make do without them.

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