Worms are incredibly beneficial to plants and play an essential role in keeping the soil well aerated and healthy. However, as valuable earthworms are, they hardly would survive in the limited ecosystems that potted soils provide. Potted soils only have limited food and nutrients to supplement worms’ diets which isn’t sustainable. Eventually, they may turn to devour your plants’ roots when food is short, leading to their demise. Therefore, today i’m sharing my best tips on how to get rid of worms in potted plants naturally
One popular method is to to use wet cardboard to trap them and then releasing them outside without killing the worms. Other alternatives can be soaking the container in water and force the worms to the surface, repot the plant or using natural predators to minimize their numbers.
This article explains the best methods to naturally get rid of worms in potted plants to give them a chance at flourishing.
Let’s delve into it!
Method 1: Soaking the Potting Container in Water
Soaking the container is a natural way to remove worms from your potted plants. It works by flushing them out, so picking and letting them slither into their natural habitats is quite a breeze. Worms don’t breathe underwater, and it won’t be any easier if they’re soaked in water with all air pockets filled with water.
Eventually, they’ll emerge to find air, which should be your perfect decoy for getting them out of the soil.
Here are the steps to soak your potting container and flush out worms.
- Fill an Expansive Bucket with Clean Water – Before picking a bucket, ensure it can completely submerge your potting container. Remember, the aim is to soak the soil in the container, and that’s only possible if the bucket is quite sizeable. You can fill it with water to the brim, ensuring that you leave a fairly significant volume to compensate for water displacement. The water should be clean, disease-free, and devoid of harmful chemicals. Cold water can be excellent, but ensure it’s not overly cold.
- Add a Few Dish Soap Drops to the Water – Dish soap has the propensity to eliminate pests when used in huge volumes. However, that can even kill your plants and destroy the roots. Therefore, only a few drops can be sufficient to make the conditions irritable for worms, and it should coerce them into giving themselves out.
- Place the Pot in the Bucket – While placing the bucket, you might want to carefully put it to avoid spilling the water as the pot displaces it. Also, ensure that you cover it entirely and let it soak for a little while until it becomes saturated. You can remove it and check for worms that pop onto the surface.
- Catch the Worms and Dispose of Them Outside – Worms in saturated soils cannot survive in such abruptly changing conditions and will ramble around when they feel uncomfortable. Therefore be ready to grab them with a piece of paper or place them on wet cardboard before disposing of them. It’d help if you considered putting them in a damp environment to replicate the conditions in the potting container.
Soaking the pot in water is a friendlier and natural way of removing worms in your pot since it doesn’t kill these valuable creatures. However, a few other natural methods exist, which we’ll discuss more in this article.
Method 2: Trapping Worms with a Wet Best Cardboard
Trapping worms using wet cardboard is a somewhat uncanny way of trapping and removing worms in the water. But surprisingly, it works. Remember that you won’t use the conventional hardwood cardboard, but a unique and layered one. It constitutes edible material for worms, and it’ll attract them for a feast.
Quite frankly, it’s an effortless and risk-free way of removing worms from your potted plants and won’t soak your soils with excessive water.
Here’s how you trap and dispose of worms using wet cardboard.
- Wet a Cardboard Box in Clean Water – You probably have a few unused boxes lying around, so perhaps that shouldn’t be challenging. The cardboard should cover the entire surface of the exposed soils in the container to offer a vast surface area. The soaking water should also be clean and free of chemicals to prevent contaminating the soil or harming the worms.
- Place the Cardboard on the Surface and Let It Stay There Overnight – The goal is to give the cardboard box some time to attract the worms. So if possible, please let it stay there overnight for better results. The worms will have a feast throughout the night and collect under it, making it pretty easy to scoop them out.
- Collect and Dispose of the Worms – A better way to dispose of worms from your potted plants is by scooping and placing them on wet cardboard. You could use layered cardboards, but sure enough, the water will make it lose to hold weight. Remember, you may have to pick the worms with some soil to anchor your scoops, and wet cardboard can come in handy. Wetting the cardboard reduces friction to make their wriggling more seamless as you transfer them to your outdoor garden.
Method 3: Repot and Remove Worms by Hand
Sometimes, changing the container can be more feasible, and removing the worms by hand can be practical. However, you must consider the soil conditions, ensuring they don’t change even in the new pot. This method is the most effective since, besides removing adult worms, it eliminates their eggs, usually entangled within fibrous root tendrils.
Here’s how to repot and remove worms by hand.
- Clean and Sterilize the New Pot – Since you’re planning on repotting, having an extra handy container is necessary. However, remember to properly sanitize it to remove any worm eggs, primarily if you’ve used your pot before. You may mix one part of bleach with ten parts of water to clean the pot. Or, you can use low-detergent soap, but be sure to rinse the container for both cleaning approaches properly.
- Uproot the Plants and Ensure No Worms or Eggs Exist – Carefully uproot the plants to avoid nipping the roots. You can only guarantee that by watering the soil until it’s adequately soaked, perhaps for about 30 minutes. Please grab the tree at the base instead of the foliage to prevent potential damage and use a slight pulling force.
- Shake the Roots to Remove Clinging Worms and Eggs – It helps to inspect the plant before replanting it so that you don’t move clumps of worms or eggs into the new pot. Therefore, please shake the plant roots and gently shuffle your fingers while staying keen not to damage the roots.
- Replant – Afterward, you should be ready to replant. Therefore, be sure not to put too much pressure on the roots. The best way to do it is by holding the plant inside the container and gently adding soil until you cover the entire pot. Above all, using a sanitized soil substrate can eliminate the chances of having infested potted soil later.
TIP! If you’re using your garden soil as the new substrate, please microwave it at fairly hot temperatures to obliterate any worms’ eggs. However, store-bought soil is usually the best since it’s pretreated and safer.
Method 4: Use a Natural Predator
Natural predators like praying mantis, fireflies, birds, and frogs can do the work for you, eliminating worms. However, it’s not always a conservative approach since instead of removing and using these beneficial creatures elsewhere, you’ll be eradicating them.
You can lure birds by filling a bird feeder around the potted plants, and they’ll instinctively come over and feed on the worms. However, worms usually come out of the soil during the night, so this approach may only eliminate a part of the worm population.
Frogs and mantises are available in the ponds and tall grasses, respectively. Therefore, scouring their natural habitats can make them available. These predators usually won’t leave if you have a worm infestation but gladly enjoy the company once you patch them on your infested plants.
Also, fireflies are available in the wild, mainly in the thickets and nearby bushes. You can especially find them during the night as they glow. Once you trap them, you can patch them on your potted plant, and they’ll get the work done.
Tell-Tale Signs to Remove Worms from Your Potted Plants
While worms are beneficial in soil, they can be a nuisance in a limited ecosystem, especially in potted plants. Therefore, removing them can come in handy.
Here are the signs that you need to remove worms from your potted plant.
- The plant is becoming frail and weathering, indicating that it’s not receiving an adequate nutrient supply.
- A few tiny and visible holes are on the surface.
- Noticing a few worms wriggling on the surface indicates they’re proliferating in numbers.
- Casings around drainage holes.
Worms are ideal in soil and help aerate it while fostering proper drainage. However, these benefits are more profound and helpful in vast land areas, such as backyard gardens instead of potting soils.
Excess worms in potted plants can be detrimental since they can turn to consume your plant roots when food becomes short. Therefore, removing them in the most natural way possible is the best way to go.
Thanks for reading, take care!