Plants, whether indoors or outdoors, are an excellent way to freshen and brighten your surroundings. They have a wide variety, ranging from dark reds and browns to plants with the brightest yellow and pink colors.
The key to keeping plants looking their best is to care for them properly. However, some common insects and pests, such as white worms, can sometimes cause significant problems.
What Are These Tiny Little Worms?
If you have recently changed your plant’s potting mix or it had to bear heavy rainfall, you may find tiny white worms in your plant’s soil. These worms are mostly small, thread-like, and crawl their way through heaps of soil. They go by the latin name entrachyadids. These tiny worms are either pot worms or larvae of fungus gnats. They attack the roots of plants and deplete the soil of its organic matter.
Tiny Little Worms in Soil
Several plant pests initially appear as white worms in soil compost. However, as they grow, their identification and appropriate treatment become easier.
The small white worms can be pot worms that are frequently mistaken for baby red wiggles. Alternatively, the little creatures can be the larvae of fungus gnat, a small black fly that crawls around the plant’s soil or flies over it.
These bugs and larvae are unsightly and adversely affect several parts of the plant.
The entire plant may be damaged as the bugs feed on its soil’s organic matter. However, the roots are usually damaged the most.
The worms’ persistent feeding eventually leads to root-rot, which is an absolute nightmare for the houseplant owner.
What Promotes the Appearance of Tiny Little Worms?
A long list of reasons leads to the growth and expansion of white worm colonies. They can infect the cleanest of plants and rapidly spread to others, adding to the gardener’s worries.
A few reasons include the following:
While light rain is good for plants and easily washes away, heavy showers often strip away the soil of its nutrients and encourage the growth of numerous unwanted and malevolent soil pests and bugs.
The soils drenched in water often allow many organisms to flourish. While some synthesize essential micronutrients for the plants, most feed on the plants instead.
One of such bugs is the white worms, which thrive in wet soils and reproduce rapidly, making it significantly difficult for the gardener to control and limit their spread.
An ideal soil pH is as crucial to the plant as a steady nutrient supply. An unfavorable pH can cause extensive damage.
It can limit new growth, damage existing leaves, and blooms, and, as in this case, give rise to white worms and other pests.
An acidic to neutral pH (5 to 8) minimizes infectious agents’ growth, thereby allowing the plant to grow and flourish. However, if materials such as bone meal, ground clamshells, or hardwood ashes are added, the pH becomes more alkaline.
The higher pH enables countless pests to breed and infest plants.
Many houseplant owners already know that most plants prefer high moisture to a dry environment. Such plants thrive in high humidity, producing vibrant and healthy blooms and leaves.
However, problems arise when the plant is persistently exposed to high moisture without frequent cleaning and dusting.
Excessive moisture is absorbed by the plant, either from the air or the soil, and the plant’s susceptibility to infections and pest infestation increases.
Such high humidity conditions are favorable for tiny white worms, which lay numerous eggs within a day to increase their number significantly.
Decomposing Organic Matter
Uncountable pests and bugs enjoy feeding on decomposing organic matter, such as dying leaves and old fruits. If the decomposing or deteriorating matter is not removed from a plant’s surroundings promptly, there is a high probability that its soil will grow tiny white worms.
The decomposing organic substance serves to be an ideal breeding ground for the worm’s larvae. The white worms multiply within days and can be seen moving over the plant’s soil as well as through the deep burrows.
All plant pests and diseases, including white worms, quickly spread from one plant to another when they are in close proximity or grouped in one room.
A fresh and non-infectious plant can be completely normal one day and have numerous discolored spots and white worms moving through its soil the next day.
As if that is not enough, if immediate action is not taken, the white worms can lead to a full-house infestation.
How to Treat Plants Infested by White Worms
Fortunately, tiny white worms can be spotted relatively quickly due to their light color before they do considerable damage. A few simple care tips will help you locate and remove them quickly.
Wash It Out
After the rain has done its job, it is time that you get to yours. If your plant’s soil is completely soaked in water, either wash it out so that any extra minerals accumulated are washed out or simply replace it with an appropriate fresh soil mix.
If you are opting for the former and plan to wash it out, place your plant under some filtered sunlight to eliminate extra water.
The Right pH
The importance of right pH cannot be stressed enough. It is one of the basic factors that either make or break things for a plant.
Find out the ideal pH for your plant either from a professional gardener, a local plant store or from any other genuine plant source. I suggest you establish and maintain the recommended pH and enjoy it as your plant matures into a true beauty.
To check the appropriate pH level, you can use a pH meter.
The Perfect Humidity
If your plant’s soil or its environment is full of unnecessary moisture at all times, I recommend you place it in an airy environment under the bright, dappled sunlight for some time.
The sun rays will help evaporate the extra moisture that the plant has absorbed and help it retain only the needed amount.
As you may have already guessed, the key to having happy and healthy plants is maintaining good hygiene. Mist and dust your plants at least once a week, and check the leaves, their undersides, and the soil often for any bugs and pests.
Moreover, if any plant dies, remove the damaged plant away from the other healthy plants.
You can use the decomposition products of some plants to increase the fertility of the soil for other plants. Therefore, I advise you to check if the decompose is useful before discarding it.
Additionally, place the plants at a decent distance from one another to prevent the spread of white worms from one plant to another.
Frequently Asked Questions about Tiny Little Worms in Soil
Are white worms harmful to plants?
White worms do not cause extensive damage. However, if they are allowed to breed for long periods, they may cause root-rot and leaf discoloration.
How do I quickly get rid of white worms?
Apply insecticide on your infected plants, or simply handpick any white worms that you see crawling around in your soil compost.
Will I have to replace my plant’s soil if white worms infest it?
If a minimal number of white worms is present, you may handpick them and continue using the same soil. However, if their number has increased significantly, it is best to replace the soil.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.