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Yesterday I was looking at a plant in pretty bad shape that I had bought a few months ago. The plant was indoors and the ceramic pot didn't have any holes at the bottom.

When I start looking at the soil I notice it has about five reddish worms in it. Here are some pictures of the soil and the worms. The soil did not have a single weed growing in it.

My question is: should I just dump this soil in the garbage? If it's reusable, then what can I do with the soil to prepare it for other plants?

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Worms in the garden are excellent. Worms in a plant pot mean big trouble for the plant, because there isn't much for the worms to eat except the plant's roots.

This is one reason why potted plants should never be grown in soil just dug up from a garden - you have no idea what is actually in there. The worms may have been worm eggs, when you filled up that pot months or years ago.

Dump the soil (and the worms) anywhere on your garden, but fill your pots with compost, not garden soil.

  • Thanks for you answer. The issue is that the plant came in a 10" pot with that exact same soil when I bought it. I ended up transplanting it into the ceramic pot in the picture but kept the soil. – rbhat Aug 12 at 20:39
  • I bet the plant was growing in the ground in a nursery, and some cheapskate just chopped out a lump of earth the size of the pot and shipped it to wherever you bought it from, worms and all. – alephzero Aug 12 at 23:07
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    Buy yourself a ceramic bit, and drill a couple drainage holes in the pot. This is best done with the drill bit submerged in a small amount of water. Lack of drainage makes watering a lot trickier. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 14 at 16:28
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It does look rather like garden soil, but perhaps it's difficult or impossible to get proper potting soil where you are, even for plant suppliers. Regardless, best to buy some new potting soil (known as potting compost in the UK) if it's available to pot up any new plants you get. Note also that no plant should ever be put in a pot that does not have drainage holes; when you water, the excess should be able to drain away freely from the base of the pot.

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I would say bin the soil. It is never a good idea to put someone else's garden soil in your garden. You never know what's in it. It could contain seeds or even roots of rogue weeds like ground elder or horsetail, or even worse, rogue grubs or moulds that could attack your garden flora. Only transplant things with the soil, if you can trust the source of the soil. Otherwise rinse off the roots before you plant.

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There are times when dilution can be the solution to pollution. Many plants will survive just fine in an average garden soil dug straight from the garden. One treatment for soil of unknown or doubtful quality is to remove it from the pot, shake it from roots and allow to dry out a bit, then sprinkle the powder on a compost heap and thoroughly mix in. Repot the original plant in a 50-50 mix of light garden soil and fine compost and move on. Based on personal experience.

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Your soil looks pretty good. Those are just garden worms which help break down dead leaves and such. They are required for a healthy soil.

Your soil appears to have a bit of clay and may not drain as well as other soils, just keep an eye on it when it rains to make sure it does drain. Water probably should not stand in place for more than 24 hours. Standing water may breed mosquitoes.

All pots should have drain holes.

Most soils will work for plants, you just have to find the plant that likes that soil, and grow that plant. Some plants are more picky about soil than others.

Just break up the clumps with your hands and you should be ok.

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