What Is That White Thing in My Houseplants Soil? the World of Beneficial Soil Organisms With Pictures

Spotting something unexpected moving in your soil can be scary and most of you probably first think about harmful pests. However, it’s important to remember that many tiny creatures in your garden, indoor pots or terrariums are there for a good reason. These beneficial organisms play a crucial role in maintaining the health and fertility of your soil, improving plant growth and also sometimes pest control. In this article, we will explain their roles and present pictures.


Springtails are tiny, beneficial arthropods found in quality soil blends. Mistaken often for harmful pests like spider mites or aphids springtails are, in fact, valuable allies. They vary in colour from white to brown, black, orange and cream, and they feast on fungus, mould and decaying biological matter. This protects your plants from root rot and aids in nutrient cycling and soil structure improvement. We use springtails for all our bio-active terrariums and often see in moisture-liking plants including carnivorous plants, ferns, orchids or ferns.


Isopods, known as woodlice or pill bugs, are highly efficient at decomposing dead plant matter and rotting wood. Their presence in a garden indicates a healthy, bioactive ecosystem. Isopods may vary in colour from brown to orange and white with black spots but are easy to recognise. Can be pretty fast and usually hide in the soil or under pieces of wood or leaves. These amazing creatures recycle nutrients, enhancing soil health and structure. Less often seen in indoor plant pots but one of our favourite terrarium pets. With Springtails create the dream cleaning crew which will create a healthy mini ecosystem.

Soil Mites

Soil mites are tiny, beneficial insects that play a significant role in the decomposition process, aiding in soil aeration and structure. These little white dots move across the soil surface, breaking down organic matter without harming plants or humans.


Earthworms are invaluable for their ability to improve soil aeration and nutrient availability. Their activity enhances soil structure and promotes healthy plant growth. Although they may not live long in potted plants, their contributions are essential for the short time they are present.


Nematodes are microscopic worms that play various roles in the soil ecosystem. Beneficial nematodes prey on soil pests like grubs, weevils, fungus gnat larvae and other harmful insects, providing natural pest control. They are slender, translucent, and can only be seen under a microscope.


Enchytraeidae, commonly referred to as pot worms are small, white or almost translucent worms often found in rich, organic soil. These worms help break down organic matter, improving soil fertility and structure. Spotting Enchytraeidae in your soil is a sign of a healthy, active organic matter decomposition process. Pot worms will not harm your indoor our outdoor houseplants in any way.


Next time you notice something moving in your soil or a weird-looking bug, please take a closer look, grab a magnifying glass or zoom on your smartphone. These creatures are often on your side, contributing to a vibrant, healthy indoor and outdoor garden. By understanding and appreciating the roles of these beneficial organisms, you can support a thriving ecosystem right in your terrarium, indoor jungle or backyard.

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