Protecting Marigolds from Snails and Slugs

Marigolds avec Snail by MosaicMarj

TheGardenLady received a question from Lou about protecting marigolds from snails and slugs.

Marigolds love dry hot weather. If they are happy, they self seed and thrive, as those in my garden do. I haven’t planted them for a few years and they are coming up all over the place.

That being said, slugs and snails do love them. But garden snails and slugs enjoy wet or damp dark places where they can hide then come out in the dark night to eat.  See here.  You wouldn’t see them unless you went out at night with a flashlight. If you have a lot of snails and slugs, you can lose all your marigolds.

So, the first thing you want to do is clean up any and all the debris that is around the plants so that there is no place for the snails and slugs to hide and for air to circulate to dry the environment where the plants are. You really don’t want mulch to retain moisture around the base of the marigolds. This is more difficult when your marigolds are in planters that are tightly packed with flowers and when you create a planting environment with different kinds of plants that need different types of care. The marigolds don’t want or need a lot of watering as some other plants might need. Marigolds like dryness. Snails and slugs like damp soft soil and darkness.

You can go out at night with that flashlight and try picking them off and dropping them in sweet water or beer to drown – but if you have a big infestation, that could be difficult. After you clean up debris around the base of the plants, you can put sand or something rough on top of the soil around the base of your marigolds and other plants. Snails and slugs don’t like to crawl over rough surfaces. There are other rough things you can put around the plants like hair both human and animal, wood ash, crushed egg shells, sawdust or coffee grounds.

Do not use salt. Salt will kill the snails and slugs but it will make the soil toxic for the plants. Slugs do not seem to like caffeine so perhaps you can spray the plants with caffeine to see if that will deter them. See here.

Since marigolds like dryness, sand might be best.

Slightly intoxicated by dreamwaters/ too busy…

Then you can put out traps for the slugs. They really do love beer but they also like sweets so sweet soda, fruit juices or even sugar water- all should work equally well. These are the most organic methods of getting rid of the pests. Pour some of the sweet liquid in a plastic container and sink it in the soil in the area where the plants are being eaten so the slugs and snails will fall in. The next day you can fish out the dead snails and slugs and discard them and return the sweet water container to trap more.

You can get some commercial products that will kill the slugs and snails. But do be careful. Some of these products are toxic to you and pets. One product that says it is safe is called Sluggo.

TheGardenLady has never had slugs become a major problem in her garden. Remember that good hygiene in the garden is always best; so weed and clean up any debris where pests might hide so that you can prevent problems.

4 Replies to “Protecting Marigolds from Snails and Slugs”

  1. A good way to protect plants from slugs and snails is a Slug Bell, it does use pellets but they are not accessible to animals and they are not scattered around. They also come in very attractive designs.

  2. I have used lots of things for slugs: slug poison, beer in cups, the iron-based bird safe bait. The only thing I have found that works is copper.
    The beer doesn’t get many and is no more attractive than the plants themselves. I don’t care to poison birds or cats, so the iron-based was my next choice. It’s rather expensive and in Oregon’s rain, it doesn’t last long. Something besides slugs eats it pretty fast. I put it under small used pots to keep them dry and out of reach of the rats or birds or whatever eats it. That helps.
    But the best is copper. I buy the soft copper for refrigeration and cut it and bend it into rings. It is expensive, but you can use it over and over every year. Slugs won’t cross the copper. I just add a few every year.

  3. I’ve had some success with sprinkling (uncooked!) rice around plants I want to protect from slugs.

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