How to Get Rid of White Worms in House Plants

White worms are naturally drawn to house plants in California for nutrition, safety, and shelter. Figuring out how to get rid of houseplant pests can be frustrating. They can be very resilient, and their population can rebound if you’re not careful.

Note that white worms do not kill houseplants. However, they will eventually cause leaf discoloration and root rot. Dealing with the infestation as soon as you catch it is important.

What are White Worms in Houseplants?

Chances are, the white worms in your houseplants are either pot worms or fungus gnats. They are small with a thread-like structure and wiggle through heaps of soil.

Their Latin name is entrachyadids, but their slimy bodies have earned them several nicknames. Common names include white grubs and lawn grubs.

These small pests tend to feed on the roots of your house plants in California. The damage done to your plants does not seem obvious – until you notice root rot.

White worms are mainly after the organic matter in your plant’s soil.

Identification of the White Worms

It can be difficult to identify pest infestation that is specific to your house plants. Many juvenile pests start out as white worms in the soil.

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It can be hard to tell the difference with an untrained eye. Identification becomes easier once the worms mature into the latter stages of their life.

Pot worms, for instance, may be mistaken for red wiggler worms. It is common for these pests to be confused with the larvae of fungus gnats.

Fungus gnats mature into small black flies that stay close to plant soil. They like crawling in the soil or flying over it.

Regardless of the type of infestation you are dealing with, it’s clear they have to go. The bugs and larvae contribute to an unsightly appearance.

Worse still, insects can affect the health of your houseplants in varying capacities. Some bugs can damage the entire plant by depleting the soil of its organic matter.

Your main concern should be root rot because worms compete with the root for nutrients. Root rot can be a nightmare for houseplant owners because it’s difficult to fix.

Read Soil Mites in House Plants

How do White Worms Propagate?

Prevention is better than cure. This means learning why these pests are drawn to your houseplant in the first place.

There are several reasons why white worms make their colonies around houseplants. Cleanliness isn’t always a quick-fix solution.

It is not uncommon for pests to infect clean houseplants and easily spread to others. Let’s take a look at common reasons why white worms may spread to your houseplant.

pH Value of the Soil

Maintaining the ideal pH value in the soil is crucial to your plant’s health. An altered pH value can spell disaster for your house plants.

More importantly, white worms are drawn to certain pH levels. This is because it damages the plant and makes it vulnerable to infections and worms.

Unfavorable pH values can limit new growth and damage the plant’s structure. It becomes easier for white worms and other pests to feed on plants.

This is why the best remedy is to maintain a neutral pH value. Try to keep the pH value between 5 to 8 to minimize infections. This will allow the houseplant to grow at a healthy pace.

You would be surprised to learn how easy it is to make the soil alkaline. Materials such as hardwood ash, ground clamshells, and bone meal make the soil more alkaline.

This will create the perfect conditions for pests to feed on your plants. In such situations, white worms will be the least of your concerns.

Checking the pH value of the soil is crucial in preventing white worms and pests.

Humidity Levels

High humidity is both good and bad for your plant. For one, it allows plants to develop faster and produce stunning foliage.

On the other hand, high humidity also increases the plant’s risk of pest infestation. It can also lead to infectious diseases.

Small white worms are fond of high humidity. They draw moisture from their surroundings to survive. They tend to breed and lay eggs when the humidity is high enough.

This can significantly increase their population in a matter of days. Insects and other pests are often found in damp areas of the home. And plants are no exception.

Organic Matter in Soil

It’s only a matter of time before organic matter ends up in your soil. Organic matter such as leaves, fruit, insects, and similar things can end up in plants.

These decomposing substances should be removed from the soil promptly. If you don’t act quickly enough, pests will feed on organic matter.

Decomposing organic matter creates breeding conditions for worms in the soil. White worms multiply in hours because the soil provides them safe haven.

Nearby Infected House Plant

Pests are incentivized by nature to spread as quickly as possible. It’s not enough to invade a single plant – they are biologically driven to infect others.

This is why infected plants should not be kept close to healthy plants. It’s only a matter of time before the pests spread.

Moreover, stressed plants are less likely to ward off pests. This creates a negative feedback loop that leads to the plant’s eventual demise.

Your first step should be to isolate any houseplant suspected of being infested with worms. Keep this plant separate from other houseplants.

Your priority is to kill the pest without harming the plant. This process may take several weeks and months, depending on the infestation.

The best remedy may be to remove the plant entirely. Unfortunately, some infested plants are too damaged and far gone to be rescued.

Read How to Get Rid of White Flies on Houseplants

How to Get Rid of White Worms

The good news is that it is easy to spot white worms very quickly. Their light color gives them away at an early stage of the infestation.

There are a few tips that you can use to get rid of white worms. Let’s take a look at the most effective solutions.

Discard the Top Layer of the Soil

The majority of white worms will reside on the top layer of the soil. Your first step is to remove the top layer of the soil carefully.

You will need to discard the soil far away from your home. Scoop out a few inches of topsoil to check for white worms. Now put the soil in a bag and tie it before you toss it into the trash.

Another alternative is to repot the house plant. This step may be overkill unless you are dealing with an advanced stage of infestation.

After removing the soil, you should treat the plant with an insecticide. Go to your nearest store and look for an indoor insecticide.

These chemicals are less harsh and wouldn’t severely damage your houseplant. Looking for natural remedies such as neem oil is a good idea.

Here’s how to use neem oil:

  • Mix a small teaspoon of liquid soap with half a teaspoon of neem oil.
  • Toss the mixture you just prepared into one liter of water.
  • Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
  • Now gently spray the mixture all over the plant.


  • Mix water with castile soap. This is relatively more gentle on the plant and just as lethal on white worms.
  • Mix cinnamon with water.
  • Use garlic-based solutions

Maintain the Ideal pH Value

It is absolutely essential to maintain the perfect pH value. It is one of the most essential factors that will dictate plant health.

The ideal pH value will differ from plant to plant. Talk to a professional gardener or your local store to learn about your plant.

You can also fetch care instructions from search engines like Google or Bing.

Most plants prefer a pH value of 6 to 7. However, some plants prefer soil pH below or above this range. For example, plants like cranberry and elderberry prefer pH values of 4 to 6.

You can use chemicals to control the pH value of your soil. Examples include ammonium sulfate and lime.

If the soil is acidic, use an alkaline chemical like lime to lower the pH. If the soil is alkaline, use ammonium-based fertilizers to increase the acidity.

You can also increase acidity naturally by using organic coffee grounds. To maintain soil neutrality, use fertilizers such as urea which are neither acidic nor basic.

Now would be a good time to invest in a pH meter. They are accurate, relatively affordable, and let you monitor soil health regularly.

Maintain the Ideal Humidity Levels

You want the moisture levels to be just right – neither too high or too low.

If the moisture is too low, spray the plants with water. You can also spray the air with water.

The moisture would vaporize and increase the humidity of the surrounding air. Most of this moisture would make it to your plants and other surfaces.

This method is relatively quick and increases humidity for several hours.

An alternative, more expensive method is to invest in a humidifier. This small device can be used to maintain the perfect humidity level in the room.

Depending on the humidifier, you can program it to maintain your desired humidity level. You could also operate it at certain times during the day. The humidifier may also help reduce the humidity levels of the room.

A natural way of reducing the extra moisture is to place the houseplant outside. The plant would lose its moisture to its surroundings in no time.

Maintain Cleanliness

Maintaining hygiene is an efficient way of keeping your plant free of white worms. Try to mist and dust your houseplants based on a set schedule.

The schedule should be based on the specific houseplant you are dealing with. Some plants only require misting once a week; others need misting twice a week.

Be fully acquainted with the care requirements of your houseplant and create a customized schedule.

It is also essential to dust the plants every week. Make sure to be thorough with the dusting. Check the undersides of the leaves and inspect the soil for white worms and pests.

Remove a plant if it dies before it decays and draws white worms. You may use decaying plants to provide nutrition to healthier plants.

However, you should scrutinize the organic matter before using it as fodder. Finally, keep the plants at a safe distance from one another.

This way, you should be able to keep the white worm infestation isolated and controlled.

Read How to Get Rid of White Flies on Houseplants

How Long Would it Take to Treat White Worm Infestation?

The duration of treatment depends on how soon you caught it.

It is easier to deal with earlier stages of infestation. However, more advanced infestations are more difficult to deal with. The best way to kill white worm colonies is to use insecticide.

Sometimes, you may have to replace the entire soil and repot the plant. Worse still, you might have to get rid of the plant if it’s beyond rescue.

Get Rid of White Worms in House Plants
Get Rid of White Worms in House Plants

How to Tell if a Plant is Dead?

This is every gardener’s worst nightmare: a dead plant. You should remove dead plants because they will contribute to white worm infestation.

It can be difficult for beginners to find out that their plant is dead. The easiest way to tell if the plant is dead is by checking its stems. The stems should be firm and pliable with a green cast on the inside.

If the stem is too brittle, check the roots. The roots should be firm and pliable. The plant is dead if both the roots and stems are brittle and mushy.

Time to start over.

Wrapping Up

Don’t wait for the infestation to spiral out of control. Take action as soon as you detect it. Make sure to monitor your plants for soil health and pest infestation regularly.

This should allow you to eliminate any risks and dangers of white worms. For the most part, it is easy to remove white worms and prevent future infestations. So how did you deal with a white worm infestation? Please share your experiences and anecdotes with us.

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