How To Get Rid Of Worms In Potted Plants

How to Get Rid Of Worms in Potted Plants

Some worms provide various benefits to plants planted directly in the garden, such as aerating the soil. While some may be beneficial to plants, others will cause havoc to them. Fortunately, potted plants will rarely get attacked by worms. However, some worms are very vigilant and will find their way into the plants. When growing plants indoors, the lack of beneficial insects that prey on worms and warm temperatures creates suitable habitats for worms to thrive. Some of the most common worms that may affect potted plants include:


Cutworms feed on different plants like carrots, tomatoes, corns pepper, and asparagus. Cutworms are the larval stage of moths. They are usually in a curly shape when not feeding on plants.

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They particularly love young seedlings, although they also feed on mature plants, especially on the lower side of the stem. Although fully matured moths don’t damage plants, cutworms can cause massive damage, especially when they invade plants in large numbers. They come in different colors, such as black, pink, and green.

If your plants have not been largely affected, pick the worms using gloves. Do this at night since that’s the time they are most active. Still, you can Mix dish soap and water, then spray the mixture on the affected plants. There are also effective chemical pesticides that will kill the worms if you don’t mind using chemical products. Growing tansy around your plants will deter cutworms from getting to your plants too.

Grub Worms

The sight of grub worms walking around your in-house potted plant is disgusting. Worse of all, the worms feed on plants, causing irreversible damages. Grub worm causes damages to plants by feeding on their roots. When they are at full maturity stage, they feed on the foliage of plants. If your potted plants have been affected by these worms, spray neem oil on them using a spray bottle.

Grub Worms
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Re-potting your plants with sterile potting soil is also an effective method of getting rid of grub worms.


Nematodes can attack and damage leaves, stem, and roots of potted plants. Their effects may not be significant if only a small number of them attack your plants. However, a massive infestation of the worms may eventually kill your plants. When nematodes attack the roots of plants, they reduce their ability to absorb water and other essential nutrients. It also creates favorable conditions for other bugs to attack the plants.

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Nematodes love soggy soil. To protect your plants from them, use containers with drainage holes, and don’t overwater them. Clean garden tools after every use, as they may transmit the worms from one plant to the other. Adopt a habit of growing nematode-resistant seeds or seedlings too. Add compost and peat moss to the soil, too, to balance its water retention capacity.


Millipedes are usually brown and have several legs. They prefer living in dark and damp conditions. Millipedes may attack both indoor and outdoor potted plants. Get rid of them by applying insecticides. You can also handpick them if they are not many.

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Removing dry leaves and mulch will also help prevent them from attacking your plants since they love feeding on dry plant materials. If there are no dry materials available, they will start feeding on your plants.

Millipedes may also get inside the house, away from plants. To get rid of them, place millipede traps at strategic locations. They are also attracted to moisture.

Use a dehumidifier to get rid of excess moisture in the house. The traps usually have a light that attracts the worms and catches them on approach. Keep your garden free from debris as they create good conditions for millipedes to thrive.

General Tips for Getting Rid Of Worms from Your Potted Plants

1. Inspect the Plants Carefully

You can only get rid of worms if you know exactly what they are. Visual inspection is crucial. Some worms attack the leaves of plants while others go for the roots. It is easy to identify the ones on the leaves, as opposed to those on the roots. Dig up the soil from the surface if you suspect your plant roots have been attacked. Be careful not to break the roots.

2. Isolate the Affected Plants

Separate the affected plants from others, so that the worms will not spread further. If the worms have already spread to all plants, there is no need to isolate some. Just deal with them collectively.

3. Use Sterile Potting Soil

Ordinary soil may contain worms’ eggs and disease-causing organisms. When purchasing potting soil, always go for sterile soil. Young seedlings will thrive without the risk of developing diseases or attacks by pests.

If you have been battling pests and diseases in your potted plants, consider re-potting the soil and use sterilized soil.

You can also sterilize the ordinary garden soil using a microwave. Put small amounts of soil in a plastic bag. Place the soil in a microwave, and heat it for 20 minutes.

You can also sterilize it using an oven. Place moist soil in a pan, and cover it using an aluminum foil. Heat the soil to a temperature of 180F.

4. Feed Your Plants Correctly

Feeding your plants with the right fertilizers keeps them safe from attack by worms. In case of attack, they will be able to fight and recover quickly than poorly fed plants.

5. Keep Your Garden Tidy

Keep your garden tidy to discourage worms from getting into your plants. Clear dry leaves and mulch, since these are the primary sources of food for some worms. Too many leaves at the base of the plant prevent light penetration, which provides ideal conditions for some worms to live in. The leaves may also act as their hiding places.

Clean garden tools after use, too, mainly when you have used them to work on affected plants.

When growing potted plants, space them adequately to allow sufficient air circulation and light penetration. Worms love crowded plants as they provide good hiding areas.

6. Water Plants Adequately

Giving plants adequate water protects them from pests and diseases. Over-watering your plants creates soggy conditions that provide ideal conditions for pests to thrive. Underwatering plants weakens them and reduces their ability to fight infections.
The best way to deal with worms is to prevent them from attacking your potted plants. However, if they are already attacked, all is not lost. Always inspect your plants and get rid of pests immediately you identify them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do millipedes get into my potted plants frequently?

Although millipedes like outdoor conditions, they might get into your house during extraordinarily wet or hot weather conditions. After getting into the house, they will find their way into your plants.

Is it appropriate to use chemical insecticide on my plants to kill worms?

It is okay to use chemical products for your plants, as long as you follow the usage instructions correctly.

Are there products I can use to repel cutworms?

There are various products such as Epsom salt that you can put on the soil surface of your potted plants to keep cutworms away.

Are there beneficial worms for potted plants?

Yes. Earthworms are beneficial to plants as they aerate the soil without damaging the plants.

Q&A - How did the worms get into the pot?