Worms in Birdsnest Fern

LA_SunshineJuly 15, 2013

What are these critters? Are they harmless?

I recently got the fern, and every time I water, a couple of these worms get flushed out through the pot's drainage holes. They are brown, about 1 inch in length.

The fern seems to be doing great...

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Looks like a worm, but the photo isn't very clear. Worms would benefit the plant by processing the organic matter. In nature Birdsnest Ferns fill up with all sorts of debris which rots down and provides an environment for a whole menagerie of creatures. That's why they were "designed" that shape.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 2:53AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Within the confines of a container, 'processed ' organic matter is not what we need. Earthworms are our pals in the garden, but not in our containers. They can turn a decent potting medium into muck.

Your plant is not growing 'in nature ' but must adapt to an entirely artificial environment. With a little help from us, they do so beautifully...that's why they were brought here from the wild generations ago and have done so well in our homes....without earthworms.

Obviously, we cannot be certain about the identity of this worm from your image. It looks earthwormish, but a much closer picture is required. Do YOU think that they look like a baby earthworm? It would be difficult to mistake them for anything else. What do you think?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:57AM
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Looks too thin to be an earthworm? No?

LA, apparently, worms were in the soil before you brought home BF.

One option is to fill a bucket of water, then submerge Birdnest in water until all worms and any other pests depart from soil.

A second option is to repot. Toss old soil, add fresh.

The earthworms I see are long and thick. Baby worms are meaty, too. Your worm looks a little too skinny to be an earthworm..I must admit, I'm no worm expert, lol. Toni

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 2:06PM
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Thanks guys! I thought they looked like earthworms, but their size confused me - they were all very small and skinny. I'm used to seeing larger earthworms. So it sounds like they could have been earthworm babies?

I'm new to ferns, so I thought they might be some evil fern worms that any fern expert would be familiar with :)

I watered it today, and didn't see any of the critters. It's a big plant in a 10" container, so there is plenty of space for them to roam. I don't really want to disturb the fern unless I know it's in huge danger. I guess I'll wait to see if next week they re-appear again, and then I might re-pot it...

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 2:06AM
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They're quite easy to repot but remember they're epiphytes or lithophytes, so a more organic mix that drains freely and aerates the roots. They're best in filtered sun or shade, the stronger the light the higher the humidity should be. In zone 10 they'll be okay outside and will especially like rainy weather.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 4:20AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I've got to disagree with my friend Toni. Young earthworms can be very small and fragile....as different from the adult as a kitten is from its mother. And so cute! :-)

Earthworms in a container aren't a danger to the plant in a direct way, but they do aid in the breakdown and decomposition of the potting medium. THAT is not a good thing for the plant. So, repotting at some point is a good idea.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 4:30AM
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Howdy Rhizo...How have you been?

Guess I've only seen mama and daddy earth worms. Do babies hide?
I'll have to Google earth worm babies. See what they look like.

I agree earthworms won't harm plants...they do wonders in the garden.
But, the majority don't want worms crawling in their homes. lol.

LA...I detest most insects/spiders, but won't harm earth worms.
When I suggested submerging 'at the time noid worms,' I didn't know they were earth worms.
Now that your worms are ID'd, if you happen to see more, just toss them in the garden.

Now, if your pests were spiders............................

Rhizo...forgot to tell you..An ex-GW-members raises earth worms for the castings..she fertilizes plants w/casting. She vows her plants are doing great. Toni

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 11:25AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

toni....below is a link to a good picture of a worm baby!

Here is a link that might be useful: Worm cutie

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 12:16PM
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Hi Rhizo..thanks for the picture.
Ahhh! He/she is a cutie.

If I'd known about worm castings, 'in the past,' we'd have a worm bin in the house.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 1:00PM
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