Are Earthworms Good for Houseplants?

Keeping your houseplants healthy isn’t as simple as buying “indoor plants” and hoping for the plant to do all the work itself. You still need to care for your plant and provide some low-key maintenance to keep them happy. One thing you might be considering for a healthy plant is earthworms. 

Earthworms are not good for houseplants. Houseplants tend to need different soil from outdoor plants and earthworms do not get enough food and space from indoor house plants. This results in the worms eating away at the roots of the plant, which can slowly kill your indoor plant. 

Although earthworms are great for outdoor environments, our indoor areas are not a great atmosphere for worms. The type of soil that worms need might not meet the soil requirements your indoor plants need, so either way, you’ll kill the plant or the worms. If you want to prove you have a green thumb, read on below to find out more about how earthworms affect indoor and potted plants. 

Are Earthworms Good for House Plants?

Using the wrong soil can limit your plant’s years drastically. As can the wrong amount of fertilizer, compost, and the addition of earthworms. 

The type of soil you use for your house plant is typically loose and well-drained soil for aeration. It’s important to use the right soil for your plant so that it can live out its lifespan looking happy, green, and healthful. 

Although earthworms are a great addition to some of your garden flowers and vegetables, they might not be the best present to gift your indoor plants. 

Earthworms thrive in outdoor environments where they have plenty of space to burrow around, have organic matter to feed on and consume moist soil to continue growing, reproducing, and fertilizing for the benefit of your garden. 

The soil normally used in most house plants does not offer worms a hospitable environment and can therefore result in the early death of your plant or your worms, and in most cases, both. 

Why earthworms are better kept outside

  • Earthworms’ burrows provide sufficient aeration to the soil in outdoor gardens which lessens the compactness of the soil so that roots can grow easier, and water can effortlessly filtrate through the soil. 
  • Because earthworms are great for soil, they essentially help the growth of plants through water movement and cycling nutrients and organic materials throughout the soil for the plant’s roots to soak up and feed on. 
  • Earthworms need the outdoor habitat to feed on naturally produced fungi and to generate new worms to keep the organic cycle going.
  • Earthworms ingest your soil and when they excrete the soil it’s full of nutrients that make the soil fertile for the plants to feed on 
  • The soil generally used in house plants is quick-drying and well-drained which does not offer a great environment for earthworms to flourish in. 
  • Worms don’t like “loose” soil and loose soil is what most house plants grow well in. If your potted plant requires loose soil, don’t add worms. 

Are Earthworms Good for Potted Plants?

Group of potted plants in buckets

Earthworms are great for potted plants within the right environment. 

If your potted plants are for outdoor purposes or you plan to keep the soil moisture quality livable for earthworms, we might recommend the use of earthworms to assist in turning your soil and providing your garden with valuable fertilizer. Otherwise, adding earthworms to your potted plants can damage the plant itself and isn’t advised for indoor or potted plants. 

Worms don’t usually affect plants directly because they work their way through the soil and provide a more hospitable soil environment for the plants to live in. But if the wrong worms are added to the wrong soil, the worms will start to directly affect the health of your plant because they start taking the healthy nutrients directly from the plant. 

Usually, worms take their nutrients from decomposing plant materials and dead root tissues but if the soil they are living in doesn’t offer enough of what they need, they’ll take it from the healthy plant roots. This is something you want to avoid if you want your plants to live a long and fruitful life. 

There is a fine line between whether you should add worms to potted plants or not and you’ll see varying answers across the board. 

We recommend not using worms in potted plants unless you can guarantee you’re going to provide the worms with the right environment to prosper.  

Here are a few tips to stand by if you want to try using worms in your potted plants to liven your green babies up:

  • Don’t add too many worms. Worms thrive in the right environment and reproducing is no issue for them if there’s plenty of food for everyone. 
  • Consider a worm composting bin instead of adding the worms directly to your potted plants. Ever heard the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? This is basically what happens with a worm composting bin, also called a vermicomposting bin. 

Add the worms to a bin, give them some bedding made out of shredded newspaper or compostable cardboard, provide a small amount of soil or crushed eggshells, then use that bin for all your veggie and fruit scraps to feed the worms. The worms produce what’s called “castings” which act as fertilizer to be mixed in with your potted plant soil to feed your plants. 

  • You can put some of your fruit and vegetable scraps (like banana peels) directly into the soil in your potted plant for the worms to have organic food to feed on.
  • Do not let the soil dry up or your worms stop working. Worms need moist environments to keep their bodies wet. 

If you’ve ever picked up a worm you probably noticed, it’s a bit slimy. This is actually worm mucus that worms produce with the moisture of the soil they live in so they can easily slide and burrow through the soil – which in turn assists the water filtration and aeration on the soil. 

Dry environments will result in the worms drying out which means they aren’t doing anything great for your soil or your plants. 

  • Use the right type of worms. Yes, there are different worms which you can read more about below

The Right Type of Worms

Two hands holding soil and earthworms

There are approximately 1 million worm species globally. That’s a lot of worms. 

Worms have numerous uses and what some worms are great for, other worms aren’t so great for. Like gardening, for example, there are a few worms that we know of that are convenient for the soil condition that affects plants. 

Red Wigglers 

Red wigglers can consume a lot of fruit and vegetable scraps and are wonderful excretion for organic fertilizer. These worms are the best choice to use in vermicomposting.


Are the best worms for providing your soil with much-needed aeration. Again, this in turn makes it easier for water to get through and filtrate to the roots that might not get as much water if you don’t have nightcrawlers working their way through the soil.


Nematodes feed on other parasites and insects that are harmful to your plant. They don’t directly affect the condition of the soil or the plant but by keeping away unwanted parasites and insects that might feed off your plant, they are good plant protectors. 


House plants and potted plants don’t usually have the right soil or environment for earthworms to thrive in. Worms greatly depend on the quality of the soil to continue producing good quality soil and fertilizer that feeds your plants for healthy growth. 

Indoor plants don’t get the same fungi and mildews that the elements outside give to soils and gardens. It’s in these conditions that worms can reproduce, feed off organic matter, and deliver healthy fertilizer for your outdoor plants. 

Unfortunately, without additional maintenance, it’s very difficult to get these required soil levels for indoor plants, and even if you did, the indoor plants themselves probably won’t take a liking to outdoor soil environments and, consequently, will die. 

Kate Inskeep

Kate Inskeep is a mom of three from Illinois who loves growing things. She fell in love with houseplants after a friend gifted her some succulents. Before long, her windowsills were full of plants, and she was hooked.

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