Should You Remove Earthworms From Potted Plants?

Worms are a common garden critter and can typically be found in the soil. Unfortunately, these little earthworms sometimes also find their way into the dirt of potted houseplants. So if you find one of these slimy friends, should you remove them from your indoor plant’s pots? 

You should remove earthworms from potted plants since they will likely die from lack of food. Worms feed from organic matter in the soil, and small potted plants have fewer nutrients for worms to eat. Therefore, worms should be removed from potted plants and relocated to outdoor gardens. 

In the rest of this article, I will discuss common earthworms, if they can damage your plants, and how to remove them. So if you would like to learn more about the impact earthworms can have on your houseplants and how to remove them, read on.

The Impact of Earthworms on the Garden

First, if you don’t already know, it’s essential to understand what earthworms are and their purpose. These strange creatures are everywhere and are primarily found in soil that is moist and full of organic matter. But what exactly are they? 

Earthworms are invertebrates from the Oligochaeta class. These worms recycle organic matter by consuming it. The matter they consume is then excreted into the soil to be reused. Earthworms are also known for aerating the soil and enjoying damp, nutrient-rich earth. 

Generally, having earthworms in your garden soil is considered a benefit. Worms do a great job aerating the earth, which aids in better drainage. These slimy invertebrates also break down organic matter in the soil more quickly, making them great for composting. 

Types of Worms That Live in Potted Plants 

The term earthworm is broad, as there are several types of these worms. However, earthworms are generally a benefit to your garden and soil. However, earthworms can easily die in potted plants without proper moisture levels and nutrients. So let’s take a quick look at two common earthworm species living in potted plants.

The Common Earthworm

The common earthworm originates from Europe but can now be found throughout North America and Western Asia. This worm can grow up to 14 inches (35 cm) in length and can live up to six years. 

This common earthworm is the worm you’re most likely to run into in your potted plants and garden. It’s also commonly referred to as a nightcrawler since it burrows into the soil during the day only to emerge at night. 

The Redhead Worm

The redhead worm is aptly named for its reddish-brown colorations. Redhead worms are another commonly found worm in gardens and potted plants’ soil. These worms are primarily found in Europe but have made their way into other places like North and South America. 

These worms spend most of their time in the upper layers of soil, feeding on organic matter. They are about 4 inches (10 cm) long and have over 100 body segments. 

Other Types of Earthworms 

There are many types of earthworms in the world. The type of worms you find in your garden depends on where you live and the worms native to your home. 

Types of earthworms:

  • Eisenia fetida.
  • Aporrectodea caliginosa.
  • Asian jumping worm.
  • Allolobophora chlorotica (green worm). 
  • Lumbricus rubellus.
  • Oregon giant earthworm.
  • Aporrectodea longa.

This list includes a few types of earthworms you can encounter while gardening. Of course, there are hundreds of varieties of worms. However, most are beneficial to have in your garden soil and houseplants. 

How Earthworms End Up in Your Houseplants Soil 

Understandably, earthworms make their way into your garden beds, but how do they end up in your indoor plant’s soil? 

Earthworms end up in your indoor plant’s soil by:

  • Crawling in through the pot’s drainage holes when they are left outside.
  • Living in the compost, you use on your houseplants. 
  • Being inside the soil of the new plant you bought. 

Worms are prevalent and make their way into our homes in many ways. Luckily worms won’t harm our houseplants. However, removing the worms is still a good idea so they don’t die from lack of nutrients or temperature issues. 

How To Remove Earthworms From Potted Plants

Since leaving earthworms in potted plants is unkind, it’s best to relocate them someplace they can thrive, like your garden bed. Removing earthworms from your houseplants isn’t difficult and can be done quickly. 

Ways to remove earthworms from your potted plants:

  • Remove the worms by hand. Most worms are large enough for you to see them. Gently remove the plant from the soil to search for stowaway earthworms. 
  • Introduce worm-eating bugs. Praying mantises are hunters and will eat any bad bugs on your plants. These hunters will also consume worms they find in the soil. 
  • Heavily water the soil so that the worms surface. Saturate the soil of your potted plant and watch the worms begin to surface. As they surface, you can easily relocate them outdoors. 
  • Repot your houseplant. If you’re having difficulty removing worms from your plant’s soil, repotting is a great way to ensure no worms remain. 
  • Spray the soil with neem oil to ensure the worm’s surface. Afterward, you can safely relocate the worm. Just be sure not to use too much, or the earthworms will die. 

Leaving worms in your potted plants won’t harm them. However, the worms can easily die without proper moisture, food, and adequate temperatures. 

How To Prevent Earthworms From Getting Into Potted Plants 

If you don’t want earthworms in your indoor plant’s pots, there are a few ways to prevent them from living in your potted plants. 

How to keep earthworms from living in your potted plants:

  • Keep your plants indoors. It can be tempting to place your houseplants outside during good weather, but the outdoors is where bugs and worms are. Plants left unattended outside are susceptible to worms climbing through drainage holes or birds accidentally dropping them into your pots. 
  • Inspect all new plants before planting them. The soil at the nursery you purchased your new plant from could have worms, and you’re unknowingly sticking it into a pot in your home. 
  • Remove any worms you come across. Worms can quickly multiply if there is more than one since they are hermaphrodites.
  • Allow the soil to dry out in between watering. Worms thrive in moist soil and will quickly die if the soil is too dry. The more humidity your plants put out, the more likely worms will enjoy your houseplants.

The best way to prevent worms from ending up in your potted plants is to pay close attention to your soil and inspect a new plant before repotting it. Also, repotting your houseplants as they grow is a great way to check for worms and relocate any critter living in your plant’s soil. 

Do Earthworms Damage Plants?

It’s no secret that earthworms can benefit your soil’s quality, but what about your plants? Do earthworms eat or harm plants? 

Earthworms do not damage plants. However, there are several types of worms that do. Regular earthworms benefit plants since they are proficient at recycling nutrients and aerating the soil. In addition, these worms typically only consume dirt and other organic matter. 

Do Earthworms Eat The Roots Of Plants?

Earthworms love organic matter in the soil, so you might wonder if they also enjoy munching on your plant’s roots. 

Earthworms do not eat the roots of plants. However, worms like grubs do eat plant roots. Earthworms primarily eat dirt, fungus, and other organic matter. This organic matter is recycled through their digestive system and returned to the soil, where plants can use it.

Typically earthworms only consume dirt and organic matter. However, the worm’s ability to recycle and break down nutrients in the soil makes them highly beneficial for breaking down compost and keeping garden soil healthy and the soil less compact. 

Generally, you shouldn’t have to worry about earthworms eating your plants. However, a study shows that some worms may feed on seeds in the soil. However, your full-grown plants should be fine, as worms will leave the roots of your plants alone. 

The Benefits of Having Earthworms in Your Soil 

Earthworms are amazing creatures since they live their whole lives below ground without eyes, feeding only off soil and organic material. As a result, these strange worms have many benefits in gardening. 

Benefits of having earthworms living in your soil:

As you can see, there are quite a few pros to having earthworms in your soil. However, removing them from indoor plants is generally best as it’s challenging to simultaneously meet the worm and plants’ needs. In addition, temperature and water amount play a massive part in an earthworm’s health. 


Removing earthworms from indoor plants is best since the worms will likely die. In addition, indoor plants only have so much soil in their pots, limiting the number of nutrients available to the worms. 

In turn, earthworms also require specific temperatures and amounts of water to thrive. As a result, keeping a houseplant and worms happy at the same time can be difficult. Thus relocation is the simplest option.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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