Earthworms needed for compost?

Asked October 20, 2018, 6:03 PM EDT

Hello! My big indoor plants (elephant ear plants) are looking a little yellow and I’ve heard adding some citrus rind/citrus zest can help give the plants potassium to help with that.... but do I need earthworms to actually help the plants get the nutrients? I’ve heard you need earth worms for compost to do anything... or for any food to become compost.

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

Thank you for your question. You have several issues here. First, adding citrus to the soil acidifies it. Depending on how much you add, it may acidify the soil so much that nutrient uptake is reduced. Citrus does not increase potassium values. Earthworms help transfer nutrients from the top layers of the soil downward to the roots. They do not like citrus. Are you interested in worm composting with red wrigglers? I can give you info about that if you want organic nutrients for your plants.

Kristena A. LaMar,

thanks so much for your response!
That is super helpful to know that citrus does not increase potassium value. I suppose my main question is: are earthworms needed for any nutrients to be absorbed by plants? I've heard that earthworms are needed for any compost/nutrients to reach the plants, but I'm not sure if this is true.

You are most welcome! I think the confusion is one about the distinctions between earthworms and red wriggler worms. Earthworms help take organic material below ground. Red wrigglers prefer decomposing organic material to live, eat and excrete in. I can refer you to materials explaining the differences, if that is what interests you!