Slug Damage

Do you have a slug problem? In fact, do you even realise that you have slug damage?!

Find out the 3 best ways I've found of controlling these pesky creatures.

There are many new gardeners who think that they have done something to their plant that has made it drop all its leaves or petals overnight - not watered enough or too much, put in the wrong place so that it has shrivelled or rotted - when, in actual fact, the slugs have had a lovely feed off all the new shoots and delicate petals.

Slug damage can happen literally overnight!

Have you ever planted a beautiful delphinium and the next morning it is non-existent?

Does your wonderful hosta look like a colander?

If you do have a problem with slugs, don't panic, there are ways to stop these slimey creatures grazing through your prized specimens.

Protecting Your Precious Plants

We've had a wonderful April this year. The sun has shone and it has been unseasonably warm, and for once it has kept the slugs at bay.

In April we usually have sun and showers: an ideal environment for slugs to do their worst, when the ground is damp and warm, and new shoots are sprouting.

Be prepared, because when we get our first rainfall after this long period of dry weather, the slugs will have a massive feeding frenzy.

Slugs and snails can prove troublesome, of course, all through the growing season. And it won't just be the ground that's damp...our spirits will be too!

Copyright image: Hosta and pink diascia.

Keeping young plants and vegetables slug free can prove difficult, to say the least.

What a disappointment it is to find a new plant, or, worse still, one that you have been nurturing for some time, to be ravaged overnight.

Plants Susceptible to Slug Damage

Here are just a few of the main ones:

  • Hosta
  • Delphinium
  • Lupin
  • Phlox
  • Clematis
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage

3 Best Ways of Tackling Slug Damage

There are numerous recommendations often made, most of which I've tried, which have either brought little success or are too time consuming.

The problem then is that you set off with good intentions but in the end you don't bother, or can't keep up with the daily ritual.

These methods include: slug pellets (unsightly and can harm other creatures), beer traps (need emptying each day and refilling), sharp material around plants (slugs still get to them), hand-picking (difficult to find the tiny beige slugs that do the most damage, and it's very time consuming), slug gell (needs replenishing frequently and can prove expensive), plastic containers over plants (the slugs always find a way in)!

The three methods that I've found the most effective are these:


Nematodes are a microscopic worm applied, in a watering can, every six weeks or so to damp ground. They will have a significant impact on your slug problem, and have had excellent results for many people. This is the best method of controlling slugs that attack from underground. Safe for all other creatures, they are an ideal way to get longer lasting results.

Only available online, because they need to be kept refridgerated before application, I feel they are well worth the outlay to keep my plants looking great and being able to grow plants that I would otherwise have to avoid, such as the beautiful delphiniums, and also hostas, which I like to grow for their architectural form and shade loving habit.

Nematodes slug killer.

Copper Rings and Tape

These create a reaction with the slugs slime, and produce a slight electric shock to repel them.

The copper rings can be used in the ground around the base of plants, the tape being used on pots, or anywhere that requires a barrier. Both of these make a significant difference.

copper rings for slug damage.
Copper tape used for slug damage.


Vaseline is another great way to keep slugs off pot grown plants. I use this on pots when I don't want to spoil the look of the pot with copper tape. Spread around the rim, it is a very effective, and a cheap way to protect precious plants.

Natural Predators

If you have a natural garden pond it will certainly help, as frogs, newts and particularly toads do a good job of eating both slugs and snails, preventing slug damage. A pond attracts birds to bathe and drink, and feed off the available slugs and snails in your garden. Brilliant! Natural, and effective.

However, not everyone has, or wants a natural garden pond.

Thrushes are noted for eating snails, as they can be seen tapping the shells on hard surfaces to break them and eat the snail within. So attracting birds into your garden is a great tactic.

Some other slug predators include ground beetles, hedgehogs, centipedes, shrews, marsh flies and slow worms.

Companion Planting

There are some plants that are thought to repel slugs and reduce the likelihood of slug damage: garlic, lavender, thyme, sage, nettles, borage, geraniums, mint, lemon balm, hyssop and wormwood.


Slug damage can be very frustrating and expensive! If you find that your plants are suffering after a shower, try one, or all of the methods above. Over time, you will find that things do improve immensely.

Let's take back control of our own gardens!

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