How To Stop Slugs Eating Plants Without Killing Them ( 5 Easy Ways )

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Stopping slugs without killing them is possible, although you will need to put in a lot more effort. The bigger your garden is the harder it will be to keep your plants safe from slugs, especially without harming the slugs.

The most effective method to stop slugs from eating your plants without killing them is by using barriers. Slugs are unable to crawl over sharp surfaces, so spreading materials like gravel, crushed eggshells, or coarse sand around the base of your plants can create a deterrent. Another option is to use copper tape, which emits an electric charge that slugs tend to avoid. Simply stick the copper tape around the edges of pots and raised beds to create a barrier. Alternatively, you can use barrier gel, which acts as a deterrent for slugs.

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A lot of people tend to manually remove slugs from their gardens, and then just throw them over the fence. However, this approach will not work, as most slugs will be back in a couple of hours, especially if there is plenty of food to go around in your garden. As you do not want to harm the slugs you will have to stop them with a physical barrier to protect your plants.

However, you can also deter the slugs from trying to eat your plants as well. The good news is that you have a couple of fairly good options when it comes to getting rid of them without harming them, the bad news is that it is going to take a lot of work. If you have slugs in your kitchen then check out my recent article Slugs In The Kitchen At Night ( 4 Easy Steps To Get Rid Of Slugs ).

How To Stop Slugs Eating Plants Without Killing Them

If you want to protect your plants from slugs without resorting to harmful methods, there are several options available. One effective method is creating physical barriers around your plants. This can be done using copper tape or bands, as slugs dislike coming into contact with copper. You can also use natural repellents like coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, or mulch made from coarse materials like wood chips or straw, which slugs find difficult to traverse.

Another approach is to encourage natural predators of slugs, such as birds, frogs, or beneficial insects like ladybugs and ground beetles, by providing suitable habitats and food sources. Additionally, you can manually remove slugs from your garden in the evening or early morning and relocate them to a more suitable habitat.

Use Pots To Stop Slugs

Pots are one of the best ways of protecting plants without harming the slugs. The taller the pots are the harder time will the slugs have finding the actual plants. However, this is not a foolproof method, as some slugs might still climb into the pots. In this case, you should use copper tape around your pots, as slugs really hate crossing over copper and they will usually back off.

WD40 and Vaseline can also be smeared on the side of the pots in order to discourage the slugs. Both of these are toxic to slugs, although only if they come into contact with them. Usually, slugs will try to avoid both the WD40 and the Vaseline as well. If you want to know what slugs eat then check out my recent article What Do Slugs Eat? ( Top 21 Slug & Snail Food Sources ).

Use A Physical Barrier

If you do not have the possibility to pot up your plants, then another good option will be a physical barrier. Something as simple as a transparent plastic bottle will do the job. Cut off the bottom part of the bottle, and throw away the bottle cap. Then just place it on the plant in such a way that the bottle doesn’t actually touch the plant, or else black mold might form on the leaves and the plant might die off.

The plastic bottle is very useful for plants that are sprouting, like Dahlias for example. If you have taller plants that have to be protected, then you should use copper rings. These copper rings tend to be rather wide and have to be placed around the stem of the plants. As slugs hate crossing anything that contains copper, your plants will be safe. Just make sure to twist the copper rings a couple of times into the soil, so there are no gaps where the slugs could cross the copper rings from below.

Garlic Spray

Garlic contains a lot of allicin which slugs and snails simply hate, you can use this to your advantage. Onions contain allicin as well, but in lower concentrations, although if you have ever grown onions you probably noticed that usually, the slugs do not bother them. The garlic spray will act as a deterrent against slugs, and the best part about it is that it is not lethal to the slugs and very beneficial for the plants.

You will have to spray the garlic spray on the leaves, stem, and even on the flowers of the plants in order to be effective against slugs. If you have other pests like aphids or other sap-sucking insects on your plants then the garlic spray will get rid of them as well. Garlic spray is even good for plants that are suffering from powdery mildew. If you want to know how to make a garlic spray that is effective against slugs then check out my recent article Garlic Spray For Slugs ( Natural Pesticide ).

Sacrifice Some Plants

You will never be able to get rid of slugs from your garden, there are way too many of them, and they also reproduce really fast, it is an uphill battle. If you really don’t want to hurt the slugs, then you might want to attract them away from your flower garden. Lettuce and cabbage are one of the favorite foods of slugs, so plant a couple of these in a corner of your garden.

As these sacrificial plants tend to grow relatively fast they should be able to survive. In certain gardens, this completely eliminated the slugs from the flower beds as they have a better food source. On the other hand, this approach can backfire, the number of slugs will increase significantly, and if they eat all the sacrificial plants they will start going after your flowers.

Dry The Organic Mulches Before Using Them

Don’t get me wrong, organic mulches are excellent for plants, but they also tend to be a really good food source for slugs. As slugs mostly eat decaying organic matter, they will have no problem eating your mulch. Green leaves and grass clippings will start to rot relatively fast, and this will actually attract more slugs to your garden. The good news is that you can still use organic mulches for your plants but you will have to dry them out.

Once the mulch made out of leaves and grass clippings is brown and dried out, it will no longer attract slugs, at this point, it is safe to put the mulch around your plants.

Key Takeaways

  • If you want to stop slugs from eating your plants without killing them, then you can either stop them with a physical barrier or deter them from eating your plants. Physical barriers like tall pots, plastic bottles, and copper rings work really well against slugs. Garlic spray can be used as a deterrent, slugs really hate the smell of it and will avoid anything sprayed with it, and it is safe and very beneficial for the plants.
  • Sacrificial plants can be used in order to lure slugs away from your flower bed.
  • Eggshells don’t work against slugs, in fact, you are actually feeding them.