The Q&A Archives: Worms in Houseplants

Question: I work in a garden store and often recommend adding worm castings to houseplant soil if the customer asks what they can use to add some life to their soil. Well, we had two customers (at different times of the year) complain that worms hatched out of the soil and they had a mass of baby worms everywhere. Each customer had purchased worm castings and blamed the problem on that. Have you heard of this problem before? I'm wondering if we should be recommending worm castings for outdoor pots only or is it possible that although that it seems like a direct correlation, it is not. In what manner, I wonder, do the worm castings get checked for the egg casings and is it possible that a few casings could get missed and so the hatching of baby worms? I wonder if it only happens occasionally and these poor customers happened to be the unlucky ones to receive them but all in all, it doesn't happen enough to worry about it. I wonder if we should switch companies who supply the castings?
Thanks for taking the trouble to read my email.

Answer: Worm Castings are packed with minerals that are essential for plant growth, such as concentrated nitrates, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and calcium. It also contains manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, borax, iron, carbon and nitrogen. Worm castings can also contain egg cocoons which will remain alive if the castings are kept moist. Generally the castings are dried before packaging, but it is possible for these eggs to remain viable and to hatch under the right conditions. For the most part, gardeners are happy to have the worms hatch to continue the recycling process in their gardens. I can imagine they would not be happy to discover worms in their houseplant soil! When you're recommending worm castings, be sure to mention the possibility of worm eggs hatching - if your customers show great concern, suggest they use worm castings only in their outdoor gardens.

I use worm castings in my houseplant soil, knowing that any worms that hatch will remain in the soil. I periodically repot my houseplants, putting the used soil outdoors in a garden bed where any worms will find a happy new home.

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