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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - September 17, 2011

From: Hillsborough, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pests, Soils, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Worms in non-native snake plant from Hillsborough NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I purchased a snake plant this summer for my screened in porch. I did not repot it and left it in the plastic pot in came it. I was about to repot the plant to bring it in and noticed there are worms pushing out of the opened ends of the container. Can this plant be saved. It looks great!

ANSWER:

We always try to begin by finding out what plant the common name our correspondents ask about. In our Native Plant Database, we found Dyschoriste linearis (Snake herb), but since you mentioned moving your plant indoors and this one is native only to Texas and Oklahoma, we don't think that is what you have. So, we went searching on the Internet, and discovered Sanseviera trifasciata, snake plant, native to West Africa, and therefore not in our area of expertise. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants are being grown.

This article from Texas A&M Horticulture on Sanseviera trifasciata refers to it as a house plant. Very few native plants will tolerate the indoor conditions that house plants live in. Pictures.

We can, however, attempt to address the problem of the worms. If they are earthworms, they are a valuable addition to a plant, aerating and enriching the soil in which they live. Information and pictures of earthworms.

That pretty well exhausts our intelligence on "worms." Since you intend to repot anyway, we suggest you dump all the dirt out of the existing pot, and examine the worms. If you establish that these are, indeed, earthworms, we wouldn't want to bring them in the house, but they are valuable, nevertheless. Perhaps you could move them to a plot of soft, nutritious, moist soil and let them grow and move into your outdoor garden. The only way you could have earthworms would be if your plant was originally planted in "outdoor" dirt, instead of sterile potting soil, as house plants usually are. By the same token, if there are other kinds of worms, they would have to have come with the plant, since they have not been in contact with other soil. In that case, I would take a sample worm to the nursery from which you purchased it and ask about it. We would hesitate to move any plant with "wildlife" in it into our house.

 

 

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