How to get rid of broccoli worms naturally?

Just like other vegetables from the cabbage family, broccoli (Brassica oleracea) is extremely prone to be affected by worms. This article is everything about, how to get rid of broccoli worms naturally?

After all, what can be more annoying than spending hours of your time and hard work growing your broccoli plant and taking care of it, only to find out that it has been affected by some nasty worms and pests? But don’t worry, you can save your hard work from going in vain. Timely treatment could help save your broccoli plants from deteriorating as a result of these pest attacks.

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What are worms and pests? Are all kinds of worms harmful?

You might be wondering what are worms and how are they different from pests? Well, in simple words we can say that worms are invertebrate animals with elongated and slender bodies, but it is important to remember and understand that not all worms are pests!

Pests refer to those organisms that can cause potential harm and threat to your plants by infecting them and causing various diseases, While it is possible that the pest infesting your plant can be a worm but it is not necessary that all worms are pests!

Some worms, for example, the earthworm can actually prove to be extremely beneficial for your broccoli plants, and thus if you see earthworms in your garden then welcome them instead of trying to get rid of them.

Earthworms, by creating tiny little holes in the soil help to improve soil aeration and water drainage. And that is exactly what your broccoli plants need – soil with good water drainage.

Not only this, earthworms also help to break down the organic matter present in the soil into nutrients that can be used by your broccoli plant.

Some of the worms that can actually prove to be useful for your plant’s help include- earthworms, grub worms, millipedes, etc.

In fact, If you are growing your broccoli plant in a large garden bed, or a large area, then you can even add earthworms to the soil by yourself. You can easily purchase earthworms from garden supply stores.

However, it is important to note here that these worms feed on organic matter for example manure, leaves, grass, etc.

Thus, if you are growing your plant in a pot, then it is recommended not to add these worms as in such cases, these worms tend to feed on the roots of your plant. Thus even the good worms will be beneficial only if they have something to feed on.

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How can pests or the “bad” worms, affect my broccoli plant?

So now that we have discussed enough on the good worms, now let us see how can pests or the harmful worms affect (or rather infect) your broccoli plants.

Pests can harm your broccoli plants in many ways and if you do not take any action on these pest attacks on time, then this could lead to your broccoli plant being infected by diseases and the damage will be irreversible and ultimately even cause your broccoli plant to die. After all, a stitch in time can save nine!

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What are the various kinds of pests that can affect my broccoli plant?

1. Cabbage worms – These are green-colored caterpillars that often camouflage with the green-colored leaves and green broccoli head, but are still detectable and visible to the naked eye due to their large size. Apart from broccoli, cabbage worms often attack other vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, and kale.

2. Cabbage looper – Cabbage loopers are also caterpillars that are lighter green in color as compared to the cabbage worms. Again, just like cabbage worms, these are also large enough to be visible to the naked eye.

3. Aphids – These are tiny little insects often found in broccoli leaves. If not treated in time these can cause leaf discoloration and wrinkling.

4. Diamondback moth – These are very tiny caterpillars (about 0.5 inches in size), but multiply extremely fast in numbers thus causing rapid damage to your broccoli plant.

We will first discuss some preventive measures as to how you can prevent your broccoli plant from being affected by any worms or pests at all, and then we will explore the various natural methods that can be used to get rid of worms or pests on your broccoli plant once they are already infected.

Let’s start by looking at the various ways in which you can prevent your broccoli plant from being infected by any pests or worms. Remember that prevention is always better than cure!

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A) Preventive measures for broccoli worms

1. Planting dill in your garden to attract wasps

A very good and long-term way to prevent your broccoli plant from pest infestation is to plant companion plants. Planting companion plants like dill and fennel in your garden can attract wasps which act as predators to caterpillars.

2. Be more welcoming toward frogs, birds, and toads into your garden

These little friends can act as a great predator for your pests and thus help you in getting rid of the harmful worms or pests that might cause any potential threat to your broccoli plant.

3. Using row cover

Using row covers can be extremely beneficial for your broccoli plants, especially if you are growing your broccoli plants in rows, in a large area. These row covers will help prevent your broccoli plants from being attacked by pests.

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An added benefit of using row covers is that they help to keep the soil cool even in extremely hot temperatures, thus preventing your broccoli plant from the possibility of bolting.

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4. Keep your broccoli plant healthy!

Yes! Something as simple as that can help keep pests and worms at bay. Just like a healthy human body is more immune to diseases and infections, similarly, a healthy broccoli plant is more resistant to pests, thus making it less prone to any disease or infection caused by the pest.

Some of the healthy habits that you can follow for a healthy broccoli plant will be to ensure that your plant receives a minimum of 6 to 7 hours of sunlight daily.

Apart from that, fertilizing your soil with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer every 20 days or 3 weeks will help to ensure that your soil is not deficient in nitrogen at any point and the help in the healthy growth of your broccoli plant.

Broccoli also requires a good amount of water for its optimum growth, so ensure that you are watering your broccoli plants regularly and your soil doesn’t feel rough and dry at any time.

Now that we have discussed the preventive measures, we will now look at some of the methods to remove or get rid of pests or worms on your broccoli plant.

And yes, all these methods are completely natural, and therefore, wouldn’t compromise the health and quality of your broccoli plant.

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B) Curative measures for broccoli worms

1. Hand-picking the worms

The first most common and hassle-free way to get rid of insects or pests from your broccoli plant would be to handpick them. You can use a pair of tweezers and remove these insects or pests manually. Of course, this process is only suitable when the pests are large enough and are clearly visible to the naked eye.

This method is more suitable if you have just started to notice pests in your broccoli plants. Hand-picking and removing these worms or insects on time will help prevent your broccoli plant from pest infestations and further diseases.

However, if you see a large number of these pests, then the handpicking method might not be a very convenient one and also could be extremely time-consuming and tiring.

2. Use neem leaves and neem oil to get rid of pests

Neem (Azadirachta indica) acts as an excellent repellent for pests and other harmful insects. Neem oil is effective against a wide variety of pests and insects such as caterpillars aphids, mites, millipedes, mealy bugs, leafhoppers, etc.

Thus, neem acts as an amazing natural insecticide and fungicide. To get rid of the pests in your broccoli plant or even to control pest attacks, you can spray some neem oil mixture around your broccoli plant.

You can take about 2 or 3 tablespoons of pure or essential neem oil and mix it in a gallon of water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spray it over your broccoli plants. This works not only as a preventive measure but also is a great way for controlling pests in case your broccoli plant is infected by them.

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Remember not to directly spray neem oil over your plants. Spraying pure neem oil directly over your broccoli plants can be too strong and harmful for your broccoli plant especially if it is very young.

Another point to note while using neem oil as an insecticide is that try to use this spray during the evening time or at a time when there is no harsh or strong sunlight because a combination of strong sunlight and neem oil spray can prove to be harmful to your plant.

Yet another way to use neem to get rid of worms and pests on your broccoli plant is to use neem leaves. For this, you need to take some neem leaves and boil them in water for some time.

Wait for this neem-infused water to cool down as spraying hot water over your plants could be harmful to them. Now, once it has cooled down, you can take this neem-infused water and pour it into a spray bottle and spray it over your broccoli plants.

This is a safe, completely natural, and yet a very effective way to control pest attacks or pest infestations on your broccoli plants.

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3. Using Bt spray

Bacillus thuringiensis is a completely natural, microbial pesticide that has proven to be extremely effective in killing pests. It is completely safe and won’t harm your plant or other insects. You can find this in most garden stores.

You need to add a few drops of liquid detergent to one gallon of the Bt. and spray it on your broccoli plants every 8 to 10 days, till the pest infestation exists.

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4. Use water and vinegar to get rid of pests or bugs

In order to get rid of any hidden bugs or worms in your broccoli, you can use this method. Fill your sink with cold water and add one-fourth cup of salt and about 2 tablespoons of vinegar in it.

Now put your broccolis in this sink and let this sit for about half an hour. Take out your broccoli and wash them thoroughly.

5. Use water and salt solution to rid of worms and bugs

It is always a good idea to clean your broccoli thoroughly before eating them. One of the ways to ensure that your broccoli is free from any nasty worms would be to cook your broccoli in a pot full of water and salt and after about 15 to 20 minutes you can take the broccoli out of the pot.

Make sure that you are being careful while doing this, and then wash your broccoli thoroughly with clean water.

This is an excellent method to not only ensure that your broccoli is clean and free from any bacteria or pests, but also this method helps to bring down the bitterness of broccoli if in case your broccolis are a bit pale or yellowish in color and thus are bitter to taste.

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Final words

Prevention is always and always better than cure! It is wiser to take precautions while growing your broccoli plant and avoid pest attacks than to cure pest infestation.

Providing your broccoli plant with the best growth conditions will make your plant immune to a lot of diseases and pest infestation and using row cover to cover your broccoli plant will further reduce the chances of your broccoli plant being attacked by pests.

Even after taking all the preventive measures, if your broccoli plant still gets attacked by pests, then you always have some natural, safe and effective methods to deal with these pests and worms for eg, using natural neem-based insecticides.

It is also a very good idea to put the harvested broccoli in a pot of hot water and salt to get rid of any potential worms if present. Use the method that you find suitable and convenient for you!

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