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How To Get Rid Of Slugs – In Plants in the Home Garden

How to Get Rid Of Slugs in Plants

Slugs are widespread animals that can cause problems in the garden in many ways like eating holes in leaves, stems, flowers, tubers, and bulbs. They can cause damage throughout the year on a wide range of plants, but seedlings and new growth on herbaceous plants in the spring season are most at risk. They can quickly destroy plants in a few weeks and this is why you need to act quickly to save your garden plants. It doesn’t matter if the plant is potted or not- all leafy greens that are thin without aroma or natural defences are susceptible to slug damage. In this article we also discuss the following topics;

  • Methods to stop slugs from eating plants
  • How do you get rid of slugs on houseplants
  • Are slugs bad for indoor plants
  • How do you permanently get rid of slugs in plants
  • Are slugs bad for potted plants
  • How to stop slugs in potted plants
  • Tips for getting rid of slugs in the garden

A Step By Step Guide to Getting Rid Of Slugs in Plants

Slugs are small pests that can cause a lot of damage to edible and ornamental plants.  Slugs can do major damage to favorite flowers and plants overnight. Slugs are one of the most damaging pests in the home garden. Given the proper environment, a family of slugs can devastate a vegetable plant in a matter of days.

Slugs thrive in a high moisture environment. When considering where slugs live in the garden, you should look for anywhere in the garden that moisture can be retained. Common places to find slugs in plants will be under pots and containers, under mulch, under boards, under rocks, and deep in overgrown vegetation. Slugs are active all year, but they’re a particular problem in the spring season when there’s plenty of young growth for them to eat. Getting rid of slugs in plants is often a time-consuming, difficult task for garden lovers. While the most effective solution is to use slug pellets to rid your garden of these slimy pests, this removal method is not to everyone’s taste.

What Does Slug Damage Look Like?

Slugs are notorious for decimating young seedlings and several different tender-leaved plants. Below are some sure-fire signs that a garden slug control program is called for;

  • If you come out to the garden in the morning and nothing remains of your seedlings but leaf mid-ribs and stumps, slugs are a likely culprit.
  • Perfect, round holes in tomatoes, strawberries, and other soft fruits can indicate signs of slugs in the garden.
  • Ragged holes in leaf edges and centers are another sign of slugs.
  • Slime trails on plants, rocks, or mulch are another tell-tale sign of slug troubles.

Identifying Slugs in Garden

Most garden slugs are grey, dull-orange, or dark brown and 1 to 3 inches long. Slugs will hide in dark places during the day. This is because they are hard to spot in the soil due to their dark color, but also because they feed at night and hide throughout the day. If you realize you have slug damage but can’t find the culprits, you’re not alone.

You can monitor slug activity in your garden by digging holes that are 4 inches wide and 6 inches deep. Cover these holes with the board, and then check for slugs after 3 days. If you see many of them, these might be the sneaky pests that are eating your garden plants.

Slugs lay their eggs in moist soil or compost. Their populations can produce rapidly in cool and moist conditions.

Identifying Slugs in Garden.
Identifying Slugs in Garden

How to Kill Garden Slugs in Plants

Some good practices to get rid of slugs include;

  • Copper tape and copper mesh barriers
  • Sprinkle coffee powder on the ground
  • Eggshells
  • Remove moist areas near the garden
  • Deter them with garlic
  • Attract animals that will eat the slugs
  • Spray Vinegar Solution

1. Copper Tape and Copper Mesh Barriers

Copper is among the most known compound to deter slugs, ranging from copper pennies to tapes, to mesh made with copper and even using copper compounds in sprays to directly apply to slugs in the garden. Normally, some types are more effective than others. Coins made of copper will rarely work unless you use a lot of them to create a wide barrier. Tapes and mesh are the most effective copper solutions for slugs. But, you do need to be careful with this one because copper is also toxic to plants. If you’re putting copper tape around pots, make sure it’s on the pot and not in contact with the soil. This is best used in addition to other slug control methods as it’s only a deterrent.

Copper’s believed to cause a mild electric shock, making it unpleasant for slugs. Placing adhesive copper tape on the rim of the garden pots would help in keeping slugs away. Copper, being a metal produces a low-intensity electric shock when it comes in contact with the mucus secreted by the body of a slug. This annoys slugs, and they are not able to ruin your plants.

2. Garlic Water for Slugs

A favorite gardener’s trick is to concoct garlic water for slugs in plants. This homemade recipe, composed of crushed garlic bulbs mixed with water, works well in small gardens. To harness the effects of garlic water, simply put a bulb of garlic in water and buzz it up in the blender. Leave it to sit a couple of hours and then you have created garlic water for slugs.

3. Eggshells

Eggshell’s effect on slugs has a similar effect as copper, only without the effect of drying them out. They’re only a deterrent so far as it’s uncomfortable for them to slide their bodies over crushed eggshells because of the eggshells sharpness. It’s still possible though. The wider a barrier you can set with eggshells, the better results you’ll have. The added benefit is that eggshells decompose, and they make a good fertilizer for your soil, giving your plants a calcium boost.

4. Protect tender plants and seedlings

As tender plants are a slug’s favorite food, they are the most likely to be killed by slugs. Use crushed eggshells, diatomaceous earth, or copper wire around plants to create a barrier that slugs cannot cross.

5. Remove moist areas near the garden

If you have a problem with slugs, you should look at eliminating the areas near the garden where slugs may live. Remove mulch from near the affected plants and put footers under containers or pots to raise them off the ground. Clean up boards and weedy areas and frequently turn rocks over to allow the undersides to dry out.

6. Attract animals that will eat the slugs

Non-poisonous snakes are the best animals to attract to your garden for slug control. These animals exclusively eat small pests and will not damage your plants. Build small woodpiles to create a home where these animals will feel welcome.

7. Slug Nematodes

Slug nematodes are among the most beneficial and effective methods to control slugs, except ground slugs because nematodes live in the soil. They are applied to moist soil with a watering can and the soil needs to be kept moist for about 3-weeks after application so they can thrive and move around. The temperature should be kept at around 10C. Once ingested, the nematodes become a parasite causing the slug to swell up to the extent that they stop feeding within a few days, then die within a week to 10 days. It should be noted that while most marketing materials highlight these as being suitable for use on edible plants, that’s only regarding plant foods that’ll be eaten by those with good health.

8. Nutshells

Broken nutshells work in the same way as eggshells when getting rid of slugs in the garden. Break up the nutshells, and make a protective barrier around your plants. Any slugs that come near your vegetable plants will soon turn the other way.

9. Seaweed

Seaweed is a great natural repellent for slugs, and it will help keep your garden free from slug damage. Seaweed, both fresh and powdered is a good home remedy for slugs in the garden, and it’s great for soil as well. The reason why this home remedy works well is due to the salt content in these products, which we all know slugs aren’t that keen on. Place the seaweed around the plants you wish to protect.

10. Spray ammonia

Adding ammonia in your garden will not only help you remove all the slugs but also make the soil more fertile. Make this solution by adding 1 part of ammonia in 5 parts of water and spray them on the soil where you find slugs moving around.

11. Citrus Trap

Slugs get attracted to citrus fruits and easily use these fruits to catch them. All you have to do is collect the peels of fruits such as grapefruits and orange and place them in your garden in the evening. You will find a lot of slugs attached to it in the morning when you can remove them by hand.

12. Spray Vinegar Solution

Vinegar is another great remedy to get rid of slugs from your garden, but make sure you do not ruin your plants with it. It can be toxic to plants so you have to be careful. Mix vinegar with equal parts of water and then spray this solution directly over the body of slugs.

13. Water Your Garden in the Morning

By using this earlier irrigation method to control slugs, you will give the top layer of soil more time to dry out before night falls.

14. Sprinkle coffee grounds

To deter slugs from entering your garden is to sprinkle coffee grounds around your plants or the borders of your garden. Like eggshells, coffee grounds will also add nutrients to the soil.

15. Spray plants with homemade snail repellent

You can also make a homemade snail repellent by mixing garlic and water in a spray bottle or pouring cold coffee into a spray bottle. You can take a spray bottle out to your garden and spray your plants and the area around your plants to deter slugs and snails. If you are trying to naturally deter your slugs without killing them, be sure that you do not spray them directly with the coffee.

16. Deter them with herbs

Lavender, sage, rosemary, parsley, creeping thyme, and mint are all nice additions to a herb garden that also happen to deter slugs. If you were planning on planting some of these anyways, plant them around the border of the garden or between vulnerable plants.

The Best Slug Repelling Plants

The best slug-resistant plants are;

  • Wormwood
  • Fennel
  • Anise
  • Rosemary
  • Astilbes
  • Hardy geraniums
  • Eryngiums
  • Agastaches
  • Penstemons
  • Sidalcea
  • Astrantia
  • Ferns
  • Ornamental grasses

How to Get Rid of Slugs in Potted Plants

Slugs Living in Pots

You could pick out and kill slugs living in pot grown plants. Favorite hiding places for slugs are the undersides of pots and small cavities in potting soil at root ball edges. Check the bases of the pots or containers, including inside their drainage holes, and pick out the slugs. Run your finger around the inside of the pots at the potting soil’s edge, and remove slugs hiding there. Slugs can be killed by putting them in a sealed plastic bag in the trash.

Slugs visit potted plants at night. Signs of slugs contain silvery-white trails and irregular holes in plant foliage. Remove potential slug hiding places near your pots; they include stones, debris, and dense ground-cover plants. Also, check for slugs on the undersides of pot stands and benches. You can trap slugs with boards placed near pots overnight. Check the boards in the morning time, and destroy the slugs you find. Wrap copper foil strips around pots or the legs of benches and pot stands. Otherwise, use 3.25% metaldehyde anti-slug granules on the wet potting soil surface around the plants’ stems in the evening. Don’t use anti-slug granules in pots containing edible plants or in areas accessible to pets. The plants shouldn’t be watered again for 48 hours.

You should not miss this: How To Grow Plants in Water.

Slug Proofing Containers with Copper

Copper discourages slugs because the slime from the pest’s body reacts with the copper, which creates an unpleasant electric shock to slugs in plants. Purchase copper rings large enough to fit around single plants or plant groupings. Also, you can place thin, self-adhesive copper tape around containers.

Protecting Container Plants from Slugs with Natural Predators

Natural predators like frogs and toads, love to feast on slugs, effectively keeping the slimy pests in check. A shallow pond or even a consistently muddy patch attracts the helpful amphibians. Be sure to provide shady places like rocks, plants, or small logs to provide shelter from the heat and bright sunlight too. Certain birds like blackbirds or thrushes, also help keep slugs under control. A birdfeeder located near the potted plant encourages birds to visit your garden.

Deter Slugs from Pot Plants with Kitchen Scraps

Scratchy substances like eggshells kill slugs by abrading the slimy coating, causing the pests to dehydrate. Rinse eggshells and spread them out to dry, then crush the shells and scatter them over the surface of potting soil. Coffee grounds are scratchy and caffeine is toxic to slugs. Also, the grounds serve as effective and healthy natural mulch.

Protecting Plants with Other Plants

Planting pungent herbs with regular potted plants help discourage slugs. For example, try planting rosemary, garlic, chives, or sage next to the ornamental plant.

In case if you are interested in this: Organic Farming of Medicinal Plants.


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