I check my container plants every day and today I saw some worms in the potting soil. That’s when I did some research to figure out how to get rid of them.
You can get rid of worms in potting soil by trapping them with a piece of wet cardboard, soaking the container in water, or applying an insecticide. I prefer to trap and release them far away from my plants.
I’ve written all the details I could find that helped me and can help you as well to get rid of worms in potting soil.
Worms in potting soil are a problem because they begin to eat the plant’s roots. If you have noticed your plant doesn’t look as peppy as it used to, worms could be munching away under the soil.
Soak Your Plant in Water
If you know the potting soil contains worms, you can just soak the container in water for a little while.
This makes the worms come out on the surface as they don’t want to drown. You can then pick them out of the soil and dispose of them.
- Grab a bucket or something bigger depending on the size of your plant
- Fill the bucket with cool water. You don’t want it super cold, but a little cooler than tap water.
- Add some dish soap to the water. You don’t need a lot; a few drops will do the trick.
- Place your plant in the water just long enough for the potting soil to get saturated and remove it.
- Catch the worms once you see them.
- Repot your plant using new potting soil.
You can use the same pot from before to repot your plant, just be sure to clean it very thoroughly.
You can mix 1 part of bleach with 10 parts of water and soak the pot in it for at least an hour. Then wash it well with water and leave out to dry.
This helps remove any unwanted pests diseases, and worms from the pot. Once the pot is dry, you can reuse it to for growing your plants.
Trap Worms with Wet Cardboard
If you’re growing a large plant in a pot, it might not be possible to soak it in water. This method can be useful to get those worms out of the potting soil.
According to Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, worms love corrugated cardboard, which is the type of cardboard that is layered like a sandwich.
It’s safe for them to eat, plus you don’t risk overwatering your plant or exposing it to any chemicals.
To use the wet cardboard method, leave a wet piece of cardboard on the soil overnight. The worms will be attracted to it in the night.
On the next morning, you can take the cardboard and dispose of it far away from your plants.
What to Do with the Trapped Worms
If you tried the soaking plant method or used a piece of wet cardboard, what you do with the worms once they come out is really up to you.
Some people decide to set them free outside if they have a large enough garden. The movement of the worms actually aerates the soil, allowing water to move more freely.
Worms are also an excellent option for compost piles. The worms help create soil by eating and digesting the food scraps, creating what is known as worm compost.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has an easy-to-follow guide on creating your own worm composting bin.
Lastly, there is always the sport of fishing. Some fresh worms would make a perfect gift for a family member or friend who loves fishing.
Apply an Insecticide
The last option you have to get rid of worms in potting soil is using an insecticide.
I would recommend using an organic one as it will not harm the beneficial organisms and your plant. It will also not leach into the groundwater and harm other plants and animals.
The recommended way of applying an insecticide is pretty simple:
- Remove around an inch or two of potting soil from the top
- Apply the insecticide
- Replace what you removed with fresh potting soil
When you remove the top layer of potting soil, be sure to dispose of it in a sealed bag or container. You don’t want any worms that may have been in the top layer to wreak havoc somewhere else.
What Kind of Insecticide Should You Use
An insecticide is a kind of pesticide that is used to kill insects. There are now a variety of insecticides you can use for your potted plants.
To help you narrow down the best fit, a few things to consider when selecting an insecticide include your budget, how much you need, and if you want something chemical-based or organic.
Here is a quick comparison to give you an idea:
|Name||Amount||Chemical or Organic|
|Bonide Systemic House Plant Insect Control||8 oz||Chemical|
|Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap||32 fl oz||Organic|
|Bonide Ready to Use Neem Oil||32 fl oz||Organic|
|Garden Safe Houseplant & Garden Insect Killer||24 fl oz||Chemical|
Insecticides can come in a dust or liquid form. There are also different types that not only rid your potting soil of worms but can even kill other annoyances such as fungi and other insects.
Lastly, there are certain insecticides you shouldn’t use on vegetables or fruits, so be sure to pay attention to what’s listed on the container.
You should pick a pesticide based on your plant’s location. You get pesticides labeled for indoor and outdoor use.
According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, outdoor pesticides are designed for outdoor environments. They can potentially cause unintended harm to pets and family members if used indoors.
When using any kind of pesticide, it is important that you fully read and follow the instructions. Some quick tips when using a pesticide include:
- Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area or take the plant outside
- Wear gloves or immediately wash your hands after application
- Wear a mask
- Keep children away when applying
- Only use the recommended amount
Preventing Worms and Other Pests in Potting Soil
It’s always a great idea to take some preventative measures when it comes to caring for your indoor plants. Once you rid the worms from your potting soil, depending on your plant, consider these tips in preventing the pests from crawling back.
- Dry out –try letting the soil get as close to dry as possible. Worms are attracted to moisture, so if the soil is constantly wet, you’ll have the little creatures back in no time.
- Sunshine, please—worms are super sensitive to the sun, so letting your plant absorb some rays can help keep the worms away.
- Wide-open spaces—again, worms like dark, moist places. Keep your plant in an open, ventilated area.
- Get off the ground—If you put your plant outside during the summer, worms will have no problem finding it! Simply elevating it with stones or perhaps another pot will do the trick.
Other Pests in Your Plants
You might be seeing pests wriggling around in your potting soil, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re worms.
There are plenty of other pests that are attracted to indoor plants. They look like worms because many pests drop eggs or larva in indoor plants, and they might wriggle around like worms.
The good news is that all of the methods discussed in this article can rid any kind of pests in your potting soil.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.