worms in my potted plant?

natalie76April 24, 2007

I bought a bougainvillea last summer, I kept it inside all winter and all the leaves fell off, i figured it was the winter shock. I've had one or two leaves grow and fall off. Now that spring is here I loosened the soil in the plants pot and noticed a bunch of tiny little worms, they are very thin like 0.77mm pencil lead and an inch or smaller in length. I rinsed a few off with water and noticed that they were opaque and with dirt inside of them? I live on a third floor so the plant has been kept on a balcony above ground level. Any ideas of where these worms came from and if they are harmful to my plant, if so how do i get rid of them?

Thanks for all your help.

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The little worms in the pot might be young earthworms; I do not know. There is a tiny caterpillar that attacks the leaves of bouganvillea. You say that all the older leaves fell off and the newly emerged leaves are falling off; I would be worried.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 5:45AM
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I would doubt that what you have are earthworms, more likely they are insect larva. What do the plants roots look like? Are these "worms" munching on those roots. The eggs that produced them most likely was in the potting soil so first repot that plant with fresh, clean potting soil. Most insect larva need a very moist environment to licve in so one reason they hatched and are present is most likely because the potting soil is too wet. When watering any potted plant wait until the soil really needs water (most all house plant problems are form overwatering) and you can check when the plant needs water by inserting your index finger into the soil to the first knuckle and if the soil is dry then water and if not don't water.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 10:57AM
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botanybob(Northern Idaho)

You didn't mention the color of the worms. If they are white or nearly so, then it could be an insect larva. If it is earthworm-colored, then I'm sure they are earthworms. Fungus gnat larvae commonly inhabit potting soils, but they are

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 3:42PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Baby earthworms are nearly opaque, and you CAN see their 'innards', lol! I'm thinking earthworms.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 3:41PM
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I have a hanging plant - i dont know what it is called. Has long thin leaves coming from the base. It is a monocot. Anyway, it is growing fine but I am kind of freaked out by it. I looked at its roots while watering it and found what are either living worms, dead worms, or caterpillar skins. They are thick, at least .8 inches in diameter and a few inches long and white and have ridges/segments. I am afraid to touch them as they may be diseased. Should I just get rid of the plant? Should I shake out the roots outside and give it new soil? I am so freaked out by this! How did they get there?


    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 2:43PM
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I noticed some in my pots also. But I don't think they are earthworms. In the fall we get these real thin worms that are about an inch long in the house. Or I should say, I find dead ones and when they die, they curl up and get very hard.

I was going to post a question and ask what they are. We are having a few days of warm weather and I have noticed several crawling down the wall from where I have several large pots.

I've never noticed any worms in my pots before but I'm having a terrible winter with aphids and have been spraying with insecticidal soap. I'm wondering if the soap is making them crawl out.

Anyone know what these worms are called??

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 11:37PM
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More than likely those "worms" are the larva of some insect, not earthworms. They could be the larva of Fungus Gnats, or maybe several other somewhat destructive insects. If you were to get enough insecticidal soap into the soil that would drive these wee critters out. In all the years I have gardened the only time I have found earthworms in potting soil was when the pots were placed outside on some good soil, we have never found earthworms in pots that did not make contact with real soil.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 7:10AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Yikes! Inch-long fungus gnat larvae!

Emma or datura, if you could possibly take a picture for us to look at, we might be able to help you.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 2:41PM
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No, they aren't fungus gnats

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 4:23PM
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i have clumps of dried clumps string like things dangle from clumps i pulled one into an little white worm the size of pencil lead and bout half inch to an inch long what could they be?

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 1:38AM
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I left town for the holidays & had a friend water my plant. When I returned one month later, I found the plant was dying. It had a few green leafs left, so I decided to trim of the dead leaf ones, I accidentally cut off a good leaf. Using the tip of the scissors, I poked a hole and inserted the leaf. to my surprise, I laid the scissors down and there on the table was 6 inch "earth worm". I have had this plant in doors for over 6 years. How did it get there? Will it kill the plant?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 1:16AM
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manda3(8a DFW Texas)

If it's truly an earthworm, it's not going to hurt your plant. It will continuously regenerate the soil for you adding nutrients and being awesome. However, there are several other worm like creatures that can damage your plants. Earthworms live about ten years in perfect conditions. It could have come in by egg, dormant in the original soil, tracked in recently by a pet, or other vague causes. And you can't discount kids being 'helpful'. When I was around eight years old and first learned how great earthworms were at school, I dug a bunch up and put them in the house plants. I have no idea what happened after that. Haha.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 1:48AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

In practice, earthworms do not improve a container medium, especially over time. They don't 'regenerate' the material, but recycle it...turning what might be a nice coarse-textured mix into worm castings which simply don't work real well within the confines of a pot. We want to foster a fast draining potting mix, not something that might end up being sludgy due to the efforts of the worms.

Keep the worms in the garden where their hard work is much appreciated.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 10:59AM
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manda3(8a DFW Texas)

Lol. I'm sure that's true if she had a pot full of worms though they'd probably be more interested in the fallen leaves (or escaping) than attacking all the good soil in her pot.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 12:56PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It seems that your idea of what earthworms do differs quite a bit from mine, lol. But you're right, one worm isn't going to do a whole lot of damage to the functionality of a potting mix.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 11:22PM
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manda3(8a DFW Texas)

Lovely. I'm glad we can come to terms with the 'one earthworm' issue.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 9:29AM
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I know an earth worm when I see it! More than once I have found a large earth worm crawling across the floor. My poinsettia is the only plant I have in the house. A man filled the pot with soil from his garden. How can I kill the worms without hurting my plant? Friend gave me the plant and it's 4' tall now. Thanks for any good answers.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 8:16AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Repotting is about the only way you can get rid of earthworms that are multiplying in that 'dirt'. Too bad about the garden soil.

If your plant were in a good, porous potting mix I'd probably suggest that you soak the plant for a while, forcing the worms to vacate the premises. But a container full of garden soil is not likely to drain very well after such a soaking and the plant may suffer for your efforts.

This is something that could certainly wait until spring, I expect. At that time, you can turn the pot out into the garden and let the poor worms escape. ;-)

At least, that's what I would do.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 5:36AM
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I don't think these are earthworms at all. They are root maggots and you have to kill them immediately. They kill plants really quick and "Throw Away the infested plant and soil if it's in a pot!" I am attacking them with Diatomaceous Earth. They have already devoured two of my plants roots. Completely killed them. It's been really humid, and wet where I lived and I've noticed more flies around. This is how my plants were infected. Overwatering is the problem....Because I'm reseeding grass and have to constantly water it, my garden gets wet. I have a watering gauge and I won't have to water my plants for awhile. I hate these bugs; they've killed some really beautiful plants. I googled "root eating bugs" and got a lot of information. I hope all goes well for me and anyone else who is trying to get rid of these pest.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 3:07PM
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