How To Get Rid Of Snails And Slugs In Potted Plants?

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Are Snails and Slugs a menace to your potted plants? Having a small batch of these creatures in your garden could be beneficial but not entirely safe.

An army of them could wreak havoc on your property, destroying your beloved plants.

They have a penchant for consuming the soft and tender leaves of outdoor potted plants in your garden. Newly sprouted leaves are their favorites.

Snails and Slugs are similar animals that fall into the group of soft-bodied animals called Gastropods within the larger classification Mollusks.

The difference between the two animals is the shell the snail carries as it crawls around your garden. Slugs have no shells with them.

Typically, you will notice an increase in their population during the rainy season. There are several reasons why you should get rid of the annoying animals in your garden and potted plants.

Let’s look at some. 

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Source | https://www.thegardenersalmanac.co.uk/

Why Should You Get Rid Of Snails And Slugs?

Good gardening practices require that you keep your garden free of pests that destroy your plants and act as disease vectors.

While the reasons for getting rid of pests are self explanatory, here is why you can’t live with snails and slugs in your yard and potted plants. 

They Are An Eyesore

Snails and Slugs have a mucous-covered body that leaves behind a mucous trail when moving. The mucous path and their mucus-covered bodies aren’t appealing to your eyes. 

Detrimental To Your Water Features

Mollusks near your water features such as ponds, water pipes, and tanks aren’t ideal. They can clog waterways like pipes, pond filters, and pools, interfering with water flow and drainage. 

Attract Other Parasites

Snails and Slugs attract and host other harmful parasites; you don’t want this happening to your potted plants. They could also affect other beneficial animals like fish in water ponds.

Some Gastropods carry parasitic worms which are perpetuators of chronic diseases such as Bilharzia.

Damage Plants

Snails and Slugs leave irregular-shaped holes and ragged edges on plant foliage. They are also fond of vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, and tomatoes. 

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Identifying Snails And Slugs In Your Garden

If you are dealing with these creatures (Gastropods) for the first time, you may be lost on how to identify them in your potted plants or garden. Here are some pointers: 

  • Garden slugs and snails are ordinarily gray, dark brown, or dull orange and measure 1-3 inches long. 
  • Sometimes they are hard to spot in the soil because of their dark color. Also, Gastropods mainly feed at night and hide during the day.
  • You can spot their eggs in moist soils or compost. 
  • They leave slimy secretion behind that you are likely to spot in your potted plants or the surrounding soil during the day. 

How To Keep Snails and Slugs Out Of Potted Plants?

Getting rid of snails and slugs in your potted plants should be a no-brainer with these easy-to-implement homemade solutions. Let’s take a closer look at each.

1. Plant Mollusk-Resistant Plants

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Source | https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/

Some plants easily repel Snails and Slugs in your garden. Seaweed, Hostas, Herbs, and some particular flowers are options you could check out.

Regarding the use of Hostas, go for the ones that have thick leaves since they are better placed to resist the snails and slugs. Other plants you can use as companion plants to your potted plants to fight the mollusks are the aromatic herbs.

Rosemary, Sage, Lavender, Chives, Garlic, and Onion repel the snails and slugs effectively. Some more effective plant repellents we recommend are Lamb’s Ear and Japanese Anemone.

Seaweed plant is salty, making snails and slugs avoid it. Marigold is also an excellent distraction to the mollusks if you have other valuable flowers around.

Plant the repellent plants together with your vulnerable plants for the best results. 

2. Use Natural Predators 

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Natural predators are also effective in getting rid of snails and slugs. You want to identify the natural predators in your area that can best eliminate these stubborn animals.

Small predators are unable to eliminate snails because of their hard shells. You can use predators like reptiles and amphibians (frogs, nematodes, and salamanders) to get rid of snails.

Some birds and rodents also consume the snails. For example, the geese, chicken, and ducks could prove handy in eliminating them. The lizard is also a valuable predator to keep the snail and slug problem in check.

You can attract their population to your garden by providing them with plenty of hiding spaces – woodpiles, rocks, and tiles are ideal places to consider.

The lizards will find their way into your potted plants and help you eliminate the snails. To get rid of snails and slugs in your pond and prevent them from finding their way into your plants someday, introduce scavenging fish.

We recommend catfish or loaches.

Other natural predators that could help you get rid of the pests are beetles. Not all types of beetles are effective except for two kinds: carob and rove.

Attract them in your garden by putting a pile of straw in a plastic box and turning it upside down on the ground. 

3. Baits 

Some baits also do a great job in attracting snails and slugs away from potted plants. A few to consider are liquid and powdered baits. 

 Liquid Baits

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Source | https://www.growveg.com/

Use beer or iron phosphate; a mixture of iron and sugar could also serve the purpose. These traps offer the best solution in getting rid of the mollusks.

Prepare the liquid bait by filling a wide-mouthed jar halfway with beer or iron phosphate. Bury the jar halfway in an area where snails and slugs like to collect.

When the pests emerge from their hiding places, they will move towards the bait and fall in. You can dispose of the pests afterward. 

Dry Baits

Some dry baits you could use to control the pests are methiocarb and metaldehyde. Only sprinkle them across the affected potted plants to prevent the mollusks.

The downside to using this solution is that it is poisonous to you and your pets alike. Use it with extra caution to keep your garden safe. 

4. Snail Proof Containers With Copper Rings 

 

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Source | https://www.greengardener.co.uk/

Snails and Slugs are sensitive to copper rings, and that’s why you want to use them to protect your potted plants.

The slime from the snail or slug’s body reacts with copper creating an unpleasant electric shock that deters them from destroying your potted plants.

The copper rings are commercially available; you can purchase one for a group of small potted plants or one single large plant. Put the copper ring at the edge of your potted plants to make sure the pests come into contact with them when trying to cross over.

You can also use copper foil tape with an electrostatic charge that reacts with the mollusk’s body. 

5. Homemade Traps

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Source | https://depositphotos.com/

There are various homemade traps that you could go for if using baits and the above elimination methods aren’t your preference. Common traps you can use are grapevines, boards, and flowerpots.

Grapevines, for example, attract gastropods by their scent.

Some other alternatives to consider are inverted cabbage leaves or inverted melons. The gastropods get trapped when they crawl under them, after which you can dispose of them.

On the other hand, boards provide a conducive environment for the mollusks to hide after a night of foraging for food.

During the day, you can collect them from the board and dispose of them. Ideally, you should place the boards near the affected plants. Other alternatives to the board are the carpet or black plastic sheet.

Did you know that empty flower pots can also form good homemade traps for the mollusks? 

Tilt or overturn the pots creating a cozy environment for the pests to crawl under them. The best time to leave the flower pot is at night near the infested plant.

If your budget allows, you can also go for commercial traps such as The Snailer or the Slug Saloon. 

6. Dispose Of The Mollusks Manually 

If you have nerves of steel, you can handpick the mollusks and dispose of them. The best time for this exercise is in the early morning or late in the evening.

Use hand gloves when handpicking them, deploying tweezers to make the work easier. Also, check the other plants around to ensure you are not leaving some hanging around. 

7. Prune Eggs Off The Potted Plant Leaves 

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Source | https://bugwiz.com/

While eliminating snails and slugs from your plants, you may notice clusters of snail eggs underneath the leaves, branches, or stems.

They have multiple colors ranging from orange, yellow, blue, green, or bright pink. These eggs, when left behind, will hatch into baby snails that will continue feasting on your plant.

The easiest way to eliminate their eggs is to prune off the leaves or the entire branch. This helps you get rid of a large number of snails and slugs from your garden.

Frequently scout for their eggs during watering or when doing other management activities around your backyard and get rid of them as soon as they are laid.

8. Avoid Mulching Your Potted Plants 

Mulch provides the perfect environment for the mollusks to hide. Further, using mulch from shredded barks has the potential to attract more snails.

It could inhabit a large population of snails. Instead, use thin and small mulching materials that reduce the crevices snails like to walk through.

9. Build Barriers Around Your Potted Plants

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To keep snails and slugs from your plants, you can build barriers that will deny them access.

There are several ways you could make barriers, such as through the use of sand, eggshells, cinder, diatomaceous earth, or sandpaper.

Preferably, use a coarse or rough substrate. Mollusks dread climbing over coarse substances. Reinforce the barrier around the pot by placing a ring of soil around the plant preventing snails and slugs from getting to your plant.

  • Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic repellent that forms an excellent barrier to mollusks. Sprinkle it around the infested areas.
  • Eggshells abrade the slimy coating of snails and slugs when the organisms come into contact with them.
  • You can also make use of coffee grounds. Apart from acting as a suitable mulch material, they serve as an excellent barrier to mollusks. Their scratchy nature is what drives snails and slugs away.
  • Ashes or fur also do the job by slowing down the movement of the mollusks.
  • You could also go a notch higher and install an electric fence around your yard. It’s a great barrier since it can create an irritating electric shock in the mollusk’s body without harming them. It is safe for other animals in your garden since the shock is tiny enough to affect only the mollusks.

Apart from the scratchy barriers, we also have slippery obstacles that you can use around your potted plants. We recommend WD-40, which can be sprayed, making it difficult for the mollusks to get access to your plants.

Another slippery alternative you can smear on the outside of your plant pots is petroleum jelly. 

10. Water Your Potted Plants In The Morning

Snails and slugs love it when the ground is moist, giving them ideal conditions to forage. You can take this perfect environment away from them by changing your watering schedule.

Watering your plants in the morning instead of the evening makes the ground around your garden or potted plants less favorable for the animals to feast on your plants. You should only water when necessary keeping the surroundings dry.

11. Hanging Planters

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Source | https://www.pinterest.com/

Another method that you could go for though not very common is using hanging planters. Hanging planters keep your plants off the ground preventing snails and slugs from accessing them.

You can hang the planters from awnings, rafters, or stakes. The mollusks will have a difficult time accessing them. 

12. Use Human Hair Clippings

It’s easy to use this method if you live close to a salon or barbershop. You can walk into one of the saloons around and request to collect floor sweepings of human hair.

Once you succeed in getting them, place them at the base of your potted plants and other house areas with a high infestation. The hairs work by entangling the little irritants.

You can collect them afterward and dispose of them. Human hair is also a good source of nitrogen to the soil once it starts decomposing, which helps to keep your potted plant healthy. 

13. Feed Them With Cornmeal  

The good thing is that the little troublemakers devour cornmeal. However, it could be the last meal they eat. Corn causes the swelling of their stomachs.

You can entrap them in a jar of cornmeal or sprinkle corn in your potted plants and areas they like to frequent. You can bid adieu to them after their last cornmeal. 

14. Move Your Potted Plants Regularly

The other way to get rid of snails and slugs would be to shift your potted plants regularly from one location to another.

Planting the same plants in the same place each year encourages pest infestation, including the mollusks.  


Should any of these methods work for you and help you trap the mollusks, ensure to release them into a natural environment like a park. Mollusks are culinary dishes in some parts of the world, so you may be tempted to eat them. However, we don’t advise that as they could be hosting other parasites. 

Wrap Up 

Snails and slugs are an essential part of the food chain and the whole ecosystem at large. They consume rotting vegetation and help in the recycling of vital nutrients.

Naturally, you should expect to find them in your garden. However, things could take a twist for the worst when their population grows out of proportion.

They are not only an eyesore but also a cause for damaged plants and clogged waterways. They also compete for resources with other beneficial organisms in your yard.

Your indoor plants could also be at risk since the mollusks will leave behind uncountable eggs leading to an uncontrollable population.

Luckily, we just listed for you a range of natural ways and commercial products you could use to get rid of the pests. Some could work for you, while some may not.

Choose what suits you best. We hope your potted plants are safe again.