9 Scents That Slugs Hate (And How To Use Them)

Scents That Keep Slugs Away

You have most likely seen a snail in or around your home at some point in your life. These slimy creatures can cause many issues, from harming your pets to devastating your garden. However, keeping them away can be simple!

Slugs use their strong sense of smell to find optimal food sources. You can use this trait to disrupt their senses and repel them. Slugs hate scents such as rosemary, white fennel, mint, chives, garlic, geranium, cedarwood, and hyssop. Use these around areas where slugs frequent to keep them away.

Read on to find out how to use a combination of solutions to create an effective strategy to combat slugs near your home!

A closeup of Pacific banana slug crawling on the ground.   Vancouver BC Canada
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1. Rosemary Repels Slugs

Ahh, the aromatic cooking herb that pairs so well with chicken, and people burn it just for the aroma. We love it, but they hate it! For the best result, mix 9 drops of rosemary essential oil in ½ cup of water and spray liberally around the garden.

Shake well to incorporate the oil with the water as it will not mix easily. Amp up the amount of oil a bit if you do not see a result in a week. 

This Pure Rosemary Essential Oil with Dropper from Maple Holistics is a perfect candidate for the job. It works well with diffusers, as a spray, and claims to have health and beauty benefits as well.

2. Fennel Drives Slugs Away

Fennel seeds are easy to come by and even easier to sprinkle around your garden to deter slugs. They spread evenly and you can throw them liberally in random places all over the garden. If you cover any problem areas, the scent will make them move along.

You can get a sizable amount of fennel seeds like these Jiva Organic Fennel Seeds to protect your property from slugs. They come in a resealable bag to keep them fresh! The company recommends refrigeration for optimal longevity of the seeds.

3. Slugs Hate White Vinegar

This is a pungent scent many creatures, including large animals, avoid. It is one of the best staples you can have in your arsenal if you have a garden. Using it is simple. You can use it straight or mix ½ cup of white vinegar with one cup of water.

Spray the mixture liberally about the garden. You can also leave out shallow containers of straight white vinegar near your prized plants to keep them away. 

4. Mint Keeps Slugs At Bay

Mint is great as a tea and has a refreshing taste and scent unless you are a slug. For some reason, they are not fans. One effective combination is planting mint and rosemary to stave off slugs.

You could plant many aromatic herbs slugs hate together. However, mint and rosemary grow like little bushes, so they take over easily. 

5. Slugs Avoid Chives

This is another one you can plant plenty of and mix with the other choices on the list. Combining things on this list will create an array of aromas you will love and the slugs will run from! 

6. Garlic And Slugs Do NOT Get Along

Garlic is something many people will gravitate toward when thinking about powerful scents. How can you use it? We would suggest minced garlic in oil you can find in grocery stores.

Take a tablespoon or two and mix with 2-3 cups of warm water. Spray liberally about the garden, however, understand how strong garlic is. Like white vinegar, it will also repel other creatures and small animals. 

7. Geraniums Deter Slugs

This is another beautiful flower we love and slugs hate. Plant them anywhere in the garden in separate clumps in several places. 

The stems are hairy and the leaves are too oily for slugs. This makes them inconvenient to eat and can keep these pests away from your garden.

8. Cedarwood Sends Slugs Running

You can place cedarwood throughout the garden in tiny bundles, little blocks, squares, or balls. It is also sold as an essential oil like Majestic Pure Cedarwood, which you can mix with ½ cup of water and spray liberally about the garden. 

The essential oil mentioned above is made in the USA and comes with a wonderful dropper for ease of use. While it is effective against pests, keep it away from children and pets. 

9. Slugs Dislike Hyssop

Hyssop can also be planted in bunches. It is a lavender-like plant in appearance, but with an entirely different scent. You can also find this scent in oil, but the bushes are so pretty and they last longer when planted. 

You can also grow French marigolds to repel slugs – but not in the standard way that you’d think!

What Scents Do Slugs Love? 

Why ever would you want to know what scents slugs love? Well, this information can be used to your advantage when you want to use scents to get rid of them more effectively.

Some flowers emit a wonderful scent both to us and slugs. They look nice and are safe for most gardens to have. Slugs will pay attention to these plants while avoiding the deterrents in this article, meaning they will move away from your precious plants and crops. 

One thing to note, though, is these are virtually ‘sacrificial plants’ as they are commonly called by popular gardening blogs. As pretty as they may be and smell–they are now slug food. So, do not get upset when they get attacked. 

Think of it this way. We are all human, right? If you took up residence somewhere and the other occupants place a delightful, free buffet of your favorite food–you would happily destroy it–yes? 

The two best plants to plant in good numbers are primrose and hosta. Now, here’s the best and most effective way to illustrate how to use them for the best result.

Outline Your Planting Strategy

Planting the right plants to emit the scents you need to both repel and attract what you want. It takes some strategy and we are going to offer you a bonus here and create a mock strategy, so you get the concept.

Then, you can make your own! Because only you know your garden and the goals you want to achieve with it. 

  • Determine what your garden pest control goals are. For this article, the focus is slugs. 
  • Then, outline where you want all the herbs, crops, and anything you want to keep alive and thriving at one end of the garden. Or, you can space them out at the same end of the garden. This is the place you plant your scents slugs hate. 
  • On the other side is where you plant herbs, plants and flowers slugs love, so they tell each other–hey there’s a buffet on this end, ignore the rest of the garden. 
  • Use the other slug repellents in concordance with these listed suggestions and strategically place them on the end of the garden where you want to deter pests. 

Now, you can sketch a fabulous garden without slugs eating your prize plants. All the while feeding them on their designated end with plants they love, if you so choose. This causes no harm to the slugs and will give them a feast to remember, far away from your favorites! 

Best Natural Slug Repellent Backed By Science

In case you were wondering what science backs as the best natural slug repellent–we have the answer!  

According to the Department of Agriculture, you can reduce your slug population by a whopping 95% by using coffee at 2% caffeine. Even just treating the soil with a caffeine solution of used coffee grounds at 1% keeps slugs from recolonizing for quite a while. 

Native Wildlife As Natural Slug Control

Songbird slamming slug on forest trail

If your garden is wildlife-friendly, you can let nature take its course. Birds and frogs are the two most common and effective ways of ridding your garden of slugs. You can attract them in simple ways without extra work. 

Try placing some birdseed and a birdbath out in the yard. It encourages many bird species and frogs if you have a nice water feature. Frogs like birdbaths too, but the birds do not want to share so–maybe a little fountain or small pond for our amphibian friends. 

There’s a way to attract them for all budgets. If you do not have one, then birdseed, which is always only a couple of bucks, and some fresh water in buckets will suffice. Before you know it, they will enjoy a regular diet of slug snacks!

That’s A Wrap!

Well, that’s all we have! Before we say goodbye for now, we will recap what you need to know about combating slugs! 

  • You can use the listed natural methods of ridding your garden of slugs like copper tape or essential oils that create scents that slugs hate. 
  • Try growing plants slugs hate.
  • Grow plants slugs love and lure them to the other side of the garden. 
  • Use your used coffee grounds and spread them around the garden
  • Encourage wildlife like birds and frogs to come and eat the slugs for you. Provide fresh water and birdseed and you are set. 

We hope you have gained some good solid knowledge and solution to your slug issue. See you in the next one!


Dörler, D., Kropf, M., Laaha, G., & Zaller, J. G. (2018). Occurrence of the invasive Spanish slug in gardens: can a citizen science approach help deciphering underlying factors? BMC Ecology18(1).

Dickinson, J. L., Shirk, J., Bonter, D., Bonney, R., Crain, R. L., Martin, J., Phillips, T., & Purcell, K. (2012). The current state of citizen science as a tool for ecological research and public engagement. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment10(6), 291–297.

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