Ever wonder why there are ragged holes and damage to your crops upon checking them in the morning? It’s as if some nocturnal critter has decided to invade your backyard while you’re having a restful night. If you happen to find some slimy silver trails all around your backyard, well then, your investigation is over.
Growing French marigolds are an excellent solution to get rid of slugs. This beautiful ornamental plant can act as a trap because it attracts slugs to infest on their leaves and new buds. Once slugs gather on the flower, you can then handpick and remove them from your garden.
Even more so, you can use bait along with the French marigolds, and have a double line of defense and great way in removing slugs from your garden. Let’s get to it!
Using French Marigolds As a Slug Trap
Basically, the idea here is that we grow marigolds along the border of your backyard, or plant them in your garden away from your valuable crops (but still close to the crops, as you’ll want to repel the slugs headed for your garden.)
Slugs prefer cool and damp climates, so you’ll often see them after heavy rain or during the nighttime. During the evening, you can easily handpick slugs from your French marigold plants and place them in containers filled with water and soap (or place them far away from your plants.)
Luckily for us, French marigolds are quick growers in the garden. When grown properly, the plants can bloom in as early as 6 to 7 weeks.
In growing French marigolds, it is easier to plant them as a seed, rather than grow it as a bedding plant (take a look at Seeds2Go French Marigold Sparky Mix Seeds).
Once you have your planting method in place, here are some simple tips that you need to consider checking when growing French Marigolds:
- Pick a spot where you want to plant your French Marigold seeds. Preferably plant it in a way that would become a barrier to protect your crops. However, if possible, you could plant it in a different spot away from other plants.
- Sow the seed 1 inch deep with 2 to 3 inches spacing from each other.
- If you’re worried if the soil lacks nutrients, you can add organic fertilizer to the ground before planting the seeds.
- Provide adequate watering to your plant. Ideally, water it once every 7 to 10 days. Avoid watering your plant overhead since it may cause moisture build-up, which in time can develop pathogens.
- Once the plant is grown, French Marigolds don’t need much of your attention to thrive on their own.
French marigolds might be an excellent way to trap slugs, but if you don’t regularly handpick slugs from those plants, then this trapping method is basically useless.
Aside from that, if slugs discover a much more abundant feast waiting for them beyond the French marigold border, they will may decide to penetrate and push through over time.
To increase the French marigold method’s effectiveness, you can use bait like Garden Safe 4536 Slug & Snail Bait.
Basically, this formula from Garden Safe works to repel both slugs and snails around your fruits and vegetables and takes effect within 4-6 days. So, you could place the bait in-front of your marigolds and use it as a “first line of defense.”
This could work as a WONDERFUL combo, since slugs are very much attracted to French marigolds. They’ll approach the flowers and them get hit with the bait as an additional defense.
Why Do You Need to Repel Slugs?
Slugs do love dark and gloomy environments, and of course, places where there is plenty of food to devour.
If you have a garden with no deterrents, just imagine the night time with an unprotected, abundant food supply (aka, your garden), what a perfect spot for a slug buffet!
If you’re wondering that slugs are the same as snails, they have a few differences but many key similarities. The primary difference between the two is that snails have shells while slugs don’t. Nevertheless, they belong to a soft-bodied group of animals known as mollusks.
Gettin’ back to it, here are some of the reasons why you need to shove slugs away from your lawn.
Slugs Consumes Your Crops
Slugs have the ability to infest your crops rather quickly, in as little as one month. Of course, not alone but as a group, since they are capable of rapid reproduction.
Slugs have both male and female reproductive organs and have multiple egg-laying cycles per year. If left unchecked and allowed to reproduce in your garden, they can quickly multiply.
So, it’s highly recommended to control the slugs in your lawn right before their germination period, which for gardening purposes, takes place between March and June.
Slugs Can Invade Your House
Since slugs love to stay in dark hiding places, chances are, they would find a way to get inside your house and stay in your vents or drains.
They don’t just feed on crops alone but rather they also consume molds and algae, present in some damp areas in your house.
Of course, this could actually be a GOOD thing, when you think about it. Since they’re eating molds and fungus material growing in your home, you may actually welcome this, depending on your stance.
More than likely though, slugs won’t invade your house unless you have plants or a leafy garden located beside your home. That, of course, will serve as their way of entry.
5 More Tips To Keeps Slugs Out of Your Garden
OK – now that we’ve got a good baseline, here are some additional counter-measures that you can try while using French marigold traps in our battle against slugs.
You should use these methods, if any, ALONG with the French marigold trap listed above. The more ways you can find use to apply these methods, the more likely you’ll be successful, in the end.
Water Your Garden in The Morning
As we have previously discussed, slugs love dark and moist environments. Therefore watering your garden in the late afternoon will make the soil damp in the evening.
Instead, water your crops early in the morning so they will dry out during the nighttime. Slugs hate crawling on rough and dry surfaces and your garden will be a little less appealing to them, as a result.
Clean Your Backyard
Cleaning up some fallen leaves will minimize the risk of feeding young slugs.
If you think about it, fallen leaves, bundles of cut grass, woodpiles, and various debris are all providing damp, dark, and humid homes for slugs.
Due to their small size, slugs will be able to slide right under all that debris, and make a nice home for themselves!
So, to combat this, remove all plant debris that slugs can use as hiding places during day time. They don’t love to be exposed in broad daylight and open areas, since natural predators such as ducks and frogs can easily spot them.
Basically, the more open you make your lawn, the less attractive it will be to slugs and various other types of critters.
Raise Your Fences!
If your French Marigold barrier is not enough to prevent slugs from invading your crops, then a stronger outer layer might do.
Now, we’re not talking about a plain ol’ garden fence here.
Instead, you’ll want to set up a copper coil barrier.
Copper reacts to the slime that slugs produce, causing them to have a nervous disruption similar to electric shock. As soon as they sense the copper, slugs will be very much hesitant to climb up it and thus, either stay away from your garden or try to find another way in.
If you already have a fence, you can wrap the copper coil a few times around the edge of it. Just make sure that the slug would have to cross over the copper multiple times to get through the barrier, making it all the more likely they’ll want to stay away.
If you’re looking for a copper wire, a great starting point is QueenBird Copper Mesh.
Additionally, if you have a plant potter as well instead of an outdoor garden bed, you can simply wrap the mesh around the plant potter and presto! Your plant will now be slug resistant.
You can also use another option by wrapping copper foil tape (check out LOVIMAG Copper Foil Tape) around the base of small plants, or other debris that can act as a fence for your crops.
Tape is a bit easier to apply, depending on your specific situation.
Plant Slug Repelling Herbs
Slugs might consume any plant they may find along the way, but just like any other critters, they hate the scent of certain herbs in your garden as well.
Planting herbs such as chives, rosemary, and basil alongside your crops may be a helpful slug deterrent in your backyard.
Aside from planting it alongside your crops, you can also place some potted herbs around your house. They give off a lovely scent that many people love!
When you’re planting them, be mindful that one singular herb might not be strong enough in scent to repel slugs. Instead, you’ll want to plant multiple in groups, so that the smell comes off as very aromatic near your garden.
Coffee Ground and Caffeine Mix
Some gardeners claim that applying coffee grounds to the soil will help deter slugs away. However, there is no confirmed research about this. Instead, the most possible reason is the rough surface that it provides to the soil, making them hard to pass through.
According to the USDA National Wildlife Research Center, 2% caffeine based solution can actually eliminate slugs and effectively can deter them from plants.
While they don’t
That’s All We’ve Got!
Remember, if you use this method – the goal here is to actually ATTRACT French marigolds to your plants and then hand pick them off of the plants themselves.
It might be tough controlling slugs, but if you happen to pick the right deterrent combination alongside growing your French marigolds, you’ll hopefully enjoy quite the slug free backyard.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful slug-repelling day!
Capinera, J. L. (2020). Acceptability of bedding plants by the leatherleaf slug, Leidyula floridana (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Veronicellidae). Florida Entomologist, 103(1), 80-84.
Glen, D. M., Spaull, A. M., Mowat, D. J., Green, D. B., & Jackson, A. W. (1993). Crop monitoring to assess the risk of slug damage to winter wheat in the United Kingdom. Annals of Applied Biology, 122(1), 161-172.
Hollingsworth, R. G., Armstrong, J. W., & Campbell, E. (2002). Caffeine as a repellent for slugs and snails. nature, 417(6892), 915-916.
Prakash, S., Verma, A. K., & Mishra, B. P. Anatomy of digestive tract of the Indian garden slug, Laevicaulis alte (Férussac, 1822).
Mote, D. C. (1931). The garden slug and its control.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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