Earthworms in Potted Plants

seamommy(7bTX)September 29, 2008

I was repotting yesterday. One of my Christmas Cactus was (and has been) looking exceptionally well, growing and spreading at a phenomenal rate and the other one has been languishing and withering for the past couple of months. Both were in the same kind of soil, but in the repotting I found earthworms in the happy one. Apparently when I watered with my homemade earthworm compost tea some tiny baby red wigglers got into the one plant. The other had none. I added some perlite and grit to both pots for better drainage, took out the monster worms in the one pot and placed 4 little red wigglers in each pot. Cross your fingers, I'm hoping my big happy plant continues to thrive and the smaller plant begins to perk up. I've never intentionally put worms in my potted plants before-anybody else have any thoughts or comments about this idea? Cheryl

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Sounds like a good experiment! It will be interesting to see both how the plants respond to the new worms, and how the worms respond to the additional drainage. Keep us posted!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 2:15PM
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here's my opinion, FWIW

Earthworms are present where there is adequate organic matter. In the garden, that is great. In a pot, generally the goal is to keep organic substrates to a minimum. In a pot, anything that decomposes into smaller particles reduces aeration and ultimately compromises drainage and oxygenation in the root zone. The only way around this is frequent repotting which may or may not be impractical.

So for my money, if I saw earthworms, I would repot immediately and change my substrate formula. Maybe you can get away with it depending on the species and its ability to tolerate certain conditions, but to me it is an ominous sign. Don't let the health and vitality of the plant at this moment fool you. The physics of the soil will deteriorate.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 5:16PM
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I have also heard that it's best not to have worms in a pot. It's not the same as worms in the ground. But I heard that in a college class 20+ years ago, so I don't know if the conventional wisdom has changed since then.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 3:38AM
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I have had worms in some of my planted pots on my balcony. I also sometimes see some catapillar like crawlies in my pots in the house as well as outside. Its a bit annoying since i don't know how they got there in the first place.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 8:05PM
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dufflebag2002(Calif. 91607)

Red Angle worms.? I feel are great for potted plants, yes your mix may still need to be changed, but the worms create natural fertilizer. Add Oak leaves to the mix at least once a year and you should not have any problems. Any one wanting to get rid of these worms, I would be happy to give them a home. Continue what you are doing, do not mess with success. Norma

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 9:06PM
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As a vermicomposter, I know that earthworms do not reduce the oxygenation or drainage in soil, they do just the opposite. In addition they adjust the PH to neutral and their castings enrich the soil. I think it will be interesting to see how the plants respond. Cheryl

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 11:54AM
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