Succulents are known for its ‘set it and forget it’ planting. These indoor houseplants don’t demand much from you.
Even without applying fertilizers, your succulent plants can survive. But, fertilizing succulents with balanced NPK value will encourage them to thrive with attractive foliage.
Most gardeners are turning towards organic way enrich their soil. Worm castings or vermicompost use in garden is increasing rapidly.
But, are worm castings good for succulents?
Yes, you can use earthworm castings to fertilize succulent plants.
Worm castings are filled with essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium that stimulate succulent plant growth.
Also, castings increase water retention ability of the soil and help fight diseases.
What is Worm Castings?
Worm castings are basically broken down organic matter that is created by worms.
It is super nutritious worm poo.
Unlike chemical fertilizers, worm castings is affordable with lots of nutrients that your plant is going to require to grow. You can use worm castings to enrich your vegetable garden, houseplants or ornamental plant soil.
Obtained worms excreta is known to have high levels of saturated nutrients and lower levels of containments. (Source)
Red wigglers or white worms are used in this process.
These worms feed on microorganisms that are decaying kitchen scraps. You can add carrots, banana peels, coffee grounds and other left over vegetables to the composting bin.
The by-product is totally organic and is the best fertilizer for your succulents and veggies.
Benefits of Worm Castings for Plants
Excellent thing about this organic fertilizer is that you can actual make your own worm castings at home, more on this later in the article.
Worm castings include: phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, potassium and concentrated nitrates.
Other minerals like copper, zinc, iron, nitrogen, carbon and manganese are housed in this organic by-product.
Excellent thing about worm or vermicomposting is that all these nutrients are readily available for plants to be absorbed.
Whereas, other chemical fertilizers and animal manure take time to be readily available for your plants.
Not just this, as a bonus worm castings include enzymes and antibodies that protect your succulents from pests and diseases.
What is NPK value of worm castings?
Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are three essential nutrients that every plant needs. As mentioned above succulents need balanced NPK.
University of California states that NPK ratio of worm castings is 5:5:3.
Your homemade earthworm castings NPK can be different, because percentages of nutrients are likely to change depending on what you’re feeding your worms.
Note: NPK value of worm castings will be lower when compared to chemical fertilizers, but higher than standard compost.
Important: Based on the study it can be said that worm castings is higher in nitrogen. Adding nitrogen rich fertilizer will help your plant to develop attractive foliage and strengthen plant structure.
- Not just nutrients worm castings can improve succulent plant soil structure.
- Humus present in this organic fertilizer will increase your gardening soil water retention ability, soil aeration and avoid leaching of nutrients with water.
- Soil microorganism that benefits your plant by producing and store nutrients can feed on castings.
- Studies by Ohio State University conclude that use of earthworm castings enhance plant growth and seed germination.
- Cornell University Plant Pathology Department states that castings can remove protective layer of pests and suppress diseases in seedlings.
- Plant problems like root rot, wilt diseases, mites, aphids and mealy bugs are curbed by worm castings.
Also Read: Is Coconut Coir Good for Succulents?
Worm Castings for Succulents: Everything You Need to Know
Those who’re unaware of nutrients in worm castings might catch up with this question are worm castings good for succulents?
If you didn’t skip about benefits of this organic fertilizer mentioned above, then you already know that it is completely safe to use it on your succulents.
But, having said that you must ensure you don’t over feed the plant with loads of nutrients. Anything in excess isn’t good.
Actually, succulents don’t need to be fertilized. Nutrients in the potting soil will be enough for the plant to grow. However, adding balanced fertilizer will enhance plant growth and foliage.
What kind of fertilizer is good for succulents?
Succulents need balanced fertilizer, NPK ratio of equal quantity.
Like we humans, plants too feel good when given required amount of food and water.
Most gardener water their succulents but they don’t often give them food or fertilizer.
Why should you apply fertilizer to succulents?
Though nutrients in the potting soil will be enough to grow succulents, fertilizing helps them to grow faster.
Balanced fertilizer will encourage them to grow bigger, sometimes develop more color and overall just look better.
- Indoor succulents must be fertilized only once in a year. As fertilizing will result in faster growth of succulents, your indoor plant may then need more sunlight. As light indoors isn’t enough, these succulent will stretch out for more.
Tip: After fertilizing once a year, put succulent outside for little while to get enough sunlight.
- Outdoor succulent plant can be fertilized more often. Spring and fall are active growing season for succulents. Fertilizing them during growing season will benefit the plant more.
Fertilize outdoor succulents, once in spring and once in the fall.
Also Read: Should I Use Grow Lights for Indoor Plants?
Nutrients in the soil will be enough for succulents as mentioned above. Adding worm castings is a bonus for succulents.
Apart from adding nutrients, castings can improve soil structure and can improve your soil ability to hold moisture for longer time.
How to Use Worm Castings for Succulent Plants?
Not knowing how much and how to use worm castings for plants can harm the plant instead of benefiting it.
There are different ways to use this organic fertilizer to enrich your growing soil.
- Mix worm castings to the potting soil. Experts recommend adding 1 part of castings to 4 parts of garden soil.
- While repotting, similarly you can enrich your growing medium with this organic fertilizer when you repot the plant. Add 1-2 parts of worm castings with 3-4 parts of garden soil along with perlite to improve soil aeration.
- Mulch around the succulent with worm castings and water the plant.
- You can spread 2-3 inches layer of worm castings on raised garden beds.
- Instead, compost tea, a liquid fertilizer can add required nutrients to succulent plant more effectively.
Adding worm castings to potting mix soil while repotting is one of the best ways to enrich your succulent plant with this organic fertilizer.
How to make worm casting compost tea?
Comparatively, liquid fertilizers are readily available for plants to be absorbed.
It is very easy to make your own liquid organic fertilizer using worm castings.
- Put worm castings into porous bags and steep them into a container filled with water.
- Allow it to steep over-night or until you see the water colour changed to light brown.
- Remove the porous bags filled with castings.
- Obtained liquid if your compost tea.
Water your plants lightly before adding compost tea to succulents. This will improve compost tea to spread evenly.
Also Read: How to Compost Chicken Manure In 18 Days?
Is worm castings better than compost?
Apart from being nutrient rich, worm castings can add benefit for succulents to fight bacteria and diseases.
Worm castings can improve soil structure and improve aeration.
However, as worm castings are expensive some gardeners may prefer compost to their potting soil mix.
Disadvantages of Worm Castings for Succulents
They are organic and natural. Does that mean they don’t have any cons?
You decide on your own.
- It’s expensive because it takes months to make earthworm poo. Even if you make your own worm castings, quantity you get is less.
- Nutrients in worm castings are same every time. It depends on the organic matter worms eat.
- Time taking task.
If you’re passionate about making your own worm castings, then you can enrich your garden with the best organic fertilizer available in the market at lowest price.
Can worm castings replace fertilizer?
Fertilizer has more nutrients than worm castings. So, if your plant’s nutritional needs aren’t fulfilled by worm castings, then you must use fertilizer with required NPK value.
However, for succulent plants you can avoid using fertilizer. Because nutrients in potting soil and worm castings will be enough to provide essential nutrients for succulent plant.
Can you use too much worm castings?
Adding too much worm castings on top layer of the soil may not harm the plant directly.
However, if you’re adding castings to potting mix, then adding more than required can change the soil texture and make the growing medium more soft.
As worm castings don’t have sand or soil in it. It won’t be able to strongly hold big plants. You must mix garden soil and worm castings in required quantity.
Do worm castings have nitrogen?
Along with nitrogen, worm castings include other essential nutrients that are important for plant growth and strengthening of root system. (Source)
Nitrogen in this organic matter helps your succulents in photosynthesis and foliage formation.
Can I use vermicast for succulents?
Vermicast or vermicompost are also known as worm castings.
Though succulent don’t need fertilizers, adding 1 part of vermicast to 4 parts of potting soil will enhance plant growth and it will beautify your plant.
Worm castings are good for succulent plants.
They are packed with essential nutrients that are readily available for plants to absorb.
Not just this, adding worm castings to your potting soil will improve its aeration, water retention ability and improve overall soil structure.
Also, enzymes in castings can remove the protective layer of pests. It can actually inhibit bacterial and fungal growth.
It might be surprising; but earthworm castings can avoid plant diseases.
Did you ever use worm castings to fertilize succulent plants? Share your findings with our fellow gardeners.