This definitely isn’t my normal content, but if you need to know anything about me, it’s that I love plants, and I’ve been trying to find natural ways to help them grow and stay healthy. Recently I have added some larger plants to my collection, including a bird of paradise and a monstera deliciosa. These two plants require some deep watering from time to time, and with that comes the problems of compacted soil and starving roots of oxygen. One easy fix for this problem is to add earthworms to the pots.
Earthworms dig in the dirt eating any bacteria that they can find in the soil, and by doing so, create little tunnels and pathways that allow for better aeration of the soil and roots. Earthworms are also great because they leave behind worm castings, and natural fertilizer for plants.
You shouldn’t be putting worms into small pots, as this can lead to the worms’ deaths and you should also limit the number of worms that you put into each pot. I only put worms in pots that are larger than a gallon or two. And I only try to put 2 or 3 worms maximum into a large pot. One of the main reasons that I want to do this for my monstera deliciosa and bird of paradise, is because the pots that they are in have no drainage holes, so soil can get compacted rather easily. I already water them sparingly to avoid them sitting in water, but I want to try and help them out just a little more.
I live out in the country, so there are plenty of places that I can dig for worms, so I thought of some of the better places I could go, and set off with a trowel and a jar.
I was lucky enough that it had rained the night before I decided to go out and look for worms, because that meant that the soil was pretty damp and that worms would be much closer to the surface than normal due to the excess moisture. Some of the best places to look for worms are under rocks or rotted wood, so I went to the little shed by my house where we had a little of both. My mom likes to have huge rocks in her landscaping and we actually brought a ton of the rocks from our old house to the new one that we live in now. She hasn’t quite had time to find a place for all of the rocks, so we have them next to this tiny little shed. I rolled over one of the smaller rocks that I could actually lift and there were some weird bugs under there. I started digging, thinking that I would find works almost instantly, but I got about six inches deep into a six inch wide hole, and found nothing. I broke up all the clumps of dirt gently to try and find some, but nothing, so I decided I should probably try somewhere else.
Next I went under our deck just to see if there would be better findings there. I thought that since under the deck is shaded from the sun for most of the day that it might be damper there. I found a spot that I could easily dig and I had much better luck. The worms that I found were honestly tiny, the longest one was only about two inches long and not very large around. I found about 10 worms after digging for only about five minutes, so I put the ones I found in a jar and went to place them.
My bird of paradise is outside on the deck for the moment since I wanted it to have the most growth possible before moving it back indoors for the fall and winter. I have it right now in a large 20 inch pot, so I made sure to give it two worms. Whenever I place worms, I make sure that they are about an inch away from the plants root ball, set them on top of the soil, and then cover them with loose soil so they don’t dry out before they can get into the soil. Worms can dry out in the sun very fast, so you want to make sure that you don’t leave them exposed in the open for very long.
I put two more worms into my monstera deliciosa, which is in a 10 inch pot. Since I had aquarium gravel as a top dressing on my monstera, I had to brush away the gravel to expose a portion of dirt to set the worm on, and then I very lightly placed the gravel back to cover the spot. I tried to put the biggest worms that I had into my bigger pots just to try and give them a fighting chance.
So I kind of broke my own rule next. Since the worms that I had left were tiny, and I mean tiny, I decided that they could probably survive in my 6 inch pots with some of my other plants, so long as I only put one in each pot. So my heart leaf philodendron, my pothos, my three syngoniums each got their own worm, and then I went back to my monstera and gave him a third little worm.
Now there are some cons to putting worms into your plant pots. Earthworms eat bacteria in the soil that comes from things like decaying leaves, bark, and mulch. If earthworms begin to eat your roots, it is most likely because your plant was suffering from root rot and was already on it’s way to death. The other problems most people face are the worms maybe reproducing too much, or dying in the soil, which can be pretty stinky. A good way to curb overpopulation is to just introduce one worm to a pot.
Overtime you will want to introduce dead plant matter to your soil in order to feed the worms, unless you would rather not. Dead worms don’t hurt your plant at all, but if you would like to keep your little helpers alive, save any dead leaves or stems from your plants in a jar or container. Every once and awhile, you can disrupt the top few inches of soil, and mix in a bit of dead leaves for your worms to eat. This trick is beneficial to your plants whether or not there are any worms in your soil, because as the leaves get broken down by bacteria, they release their nutrients back into the soil for the plant to absorb again.
Please follow my new Instagram @sustainably_grace