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Earthworms

 

Earthworms are very important members for our ecosystem They are tube shape multi segmented creators found in and around  moist semi decomposed organic matter and in soil. They are hermaphrodite (Individuals carry both the sexes)

Horticultural definition

They are biological tools used for fast conversion of wet semi decomposed organic waste into fine manure. Earthworms, eats dead semi decomposed organic waste very quickly and the process goes through their long elementary tube and end product from break down of organic matter is called wormy compost or worm cast.

Earth worms in potted plants

We treat earthworms in potted plants as serious paste. As we have defined them as biological tools helping us to produce excellent quality compost. But their presence should be restrictive and confined only up to the making  of compost, Worm cast should be free from cocoons and earth worms. Unfortunately unsterilized wormy compost is sold in our country for trade to the nurseries.

When you use good quality of potting mix, it is made of porous organic mixture to retain the water for healthy growth of plants, free draining and aeration to allow the roots to breath. Once the wormy compost used for potted plants, the cocoons becomes active gives birth to many baby worms which develop into mature worms. Earths worms are aggressive eaters and in scarcity of food even they eat their own excreta for survival.

Thus earth worms play mischief with the porous system of potting mix by regular eating and churning the aggregate into very fine and heavy paste. By continues deposition of their excreta near the holes of the pots blocks the drainage and aeration and the pots become water logged mostly during monsoon and affects the growth of active functional root, thus the supply of nutrients to the plants becomes scare, results in yellowing of leaves and defoliation, the plants suffers al last.

The worst affected are

 All types potted perennials, mostly ixoras, crotons, small palms, aroids, scheffleras, ferns, begonias, and small shrubs, the turf and flowerbeds of terrace gardens, vertical gardens and lawns.

Please look if your potted plants look unhealthy and frail first check the presence of earth worms. They deposit their excreta at top of the potting mixture or near the drainage holes. We are against the killing of the earth worms but at the same time we have to protect our plants also. If they have come to a wrong place then they have to be eliminated. Red earth worms which are used for making wormy compost are invasive and their roll to be restricted only for making the compost.

Precautions

1. Use sterilized worm cast

2. Check the presence of earthworms and treat them with insecticide.

3. Remove heavily infested plants from the pots and remove the infested soil treat the root ball with insecticide and replace it with new potting mix which should be free from cocoons and earthworms.

 

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