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put worms in potted houseplants?

Posted by westsubwoman CA (My Page) on
Sat, Nov 5, 05 at 23:19

This may sound weird but has anyone tried putting earthworms (red wigglers) in their potted houseplants? The soil in my houseplants has become compacted and I think that adding earthworms would help to break it up. My plants reside on an enclosed balcony so if the worms were to escape, they couldn't wiggle too far. What do you think?


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 5, 05 at 23:31

Repot

Al


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

Not going to do any good, the worms will just die. To have any chance of success at reducing compaction you would need a burrowing worm. Burrowing worms burrow to various depths in the soil to regulate their temperature. Indoors in a pot they wouldn't be able to do this and would die.

I agree with Al, it is time to repot in some fresh mix.


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

don't do it. worms in your garden have lots of space to move about, but in the confinement of a pot, they do more harm than good. with their constant burrowing, you could expect them to shear through some roots.

-ming


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

Never mind the worms, that's not what you need. You say your soil is compact....and you must have some reason to think that.

Usually we go by how the plant drains to determine whether the soil is compact or not.
A houseplant must drain in a reasonable manner, depending on the size of the pot, the amount of water given, the type of soil the pot has within it and whether the pot itself might absorb some of the water.

You should determine first whether the pot drains well enough before deciding to re-pot. Some plants react to being removed and others bloom much better when pot bound.

If your plant is indeed "too compact", then it is a candidate for re-potting.

If you do repot, and use fresh potting soil, monitor your fertilizing needs. Fresh potting soil will deliver nutritives to the plant for a month or so.


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

Thanks everyone for your input. I will take your advise and repot.


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

  • Posted by Jon_D Northern Calif. (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 9, 05 at 14:37

I wish I could be succinct like Al. I was going to say "Bad Idea", which is twice as many words as Al's. But, I have a story so... A few years back on the gesneriphiles email group we had an enthusiastic young grower who bombarded us with problems about growing. Her plants were just suffering, and had one problem after another. Dozens of us, posted back and forth for the longest time trying to solve her problems. Then finally one day, she innocently mentioned something like, "Oh, and I even have earth worms in all my pots to help improve the soil".

Well, needless to say, everyone told her to get those creatures out of her pots. She resisted mightily but I think in the end we convinced her. They were most likely the source of all her problems. They turn the soil into fine grained mush, and probably destroy the roots as well. They need freedom.

Jon


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 9, 05 at 15:42

Very good point, Jon. In container culture, we want to do what we can to preserve soil structure rather than to introduce variables that in the end work toward the collapse of that structure.

Al


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

Eggsactly! The outdoor soil is a living, breathing, working SYSTEM that cannot be duplicated in the confines of a container. If you take a tubfull of the most delectable native soil, and plunk it into a container, that system will soon break down and you will have a tubfull of dead dirt! Biota just don't function well in a container.


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 9, 05 at 16:40

Amen!

I'm going to call you up next time I get in a ..uh .. er .. well, discussion about that.

Al


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

Well ONCE I put 1 earthworm into a indoor pot from outdoors, never saw another indication of it until 8 months later when I found it while repotting the plant. My soil was fine and it appeared to live off the dead leaves from the plant. But it was a bad idea and I was just lucky it did not do any damage. The worm was set free, still very much alive.


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

I have a Dream Pink rose tree planted in a large white pot, and a couple of days ago I decided it was too dry to be happy, so I soaked it in the tub. About 3" of the soil at the top of the pot rose up in chunks, and I thought it was odd. Left it overnight, and this morning I found hundreds of earthworms wriggling around. At first I thought, "Hm, Earthworms are good..." but after reading this thread I decided to remove all the earthworm infested soil and put it into buckets. I noticed that lots of the roots were eaten, and its a good thing I decided to "water" the plant, otherwise I wouldn't have seen this problem at all. I think dad probably dumped the worms we use for fishing into the pot, and they made hundreds of babies while the rose was sleeping/inside for the winter. Hopefully this won't happen again...


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

I always use my own compost for my houseplants which usually has wigglers in it, if even the eggs. So it happened more by accident. I have nothing but good experiences. They keep the soil structured and crumbly, they feed of decaying matter, I just sometimes add spent tea leaves and coffee grounds as well as dry and cut-up houseplants leaves. This mimics the leaf litter youd find in nature and helps to keep the soil moist. The worms do not escape and do not multiply in numbers. Perhaps this is only practical with large size pots, but again - I can only recommend it.


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

Oddly, I just noticed while repotting a plant that it had two earthworms in it.

Should I do something about it?

This is a "temporary" houseplant...it's sitting on a balcony and is going to be planted outside in the Fall.


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RE: put worms in potted houseplants?

I wouldn't worry about it since you'll be planting outside. Earthworms belong in and benefit the outdoor soil system.


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