Snails are common garden visitors, especially in areas with wet soil and objects that provide decent shelter. However, despite being widely viewed as harmless creatures in the wild, snails might not be ideal for your potted plants.
Snails are not good for your potted plants as they can eat the leaves and flowers, effectively leading to irreparable damage. When they’re not feasting on your potted plants, snails can ruin your home or garden’s overall aesthetic by leaving slimy trails everywhere.
This article will further explore the impact of snails on plant health and offer some tips to deal with them.
Snails Can Harm Your Potted Plants
While they may seem harmless, snails can cause severe damage to your plants and should be removed when spotted.
These slimy creatures feed on leaves, flowers, and roots and can easily kill your greens in case of an infestation. Once a snail starts to feast on your plants’ leaves, chances are it won’t grow as expected and might even die if the situation isn’t controlled early enough.
Snails also deposit their eggs in the soil, which can hatch and effectively kickstart an infestation. In addition, snails can carry disease-causing bacteria that can infect your plants.
If you have snails in your garden, it’s crucial to inspect your plants regularly for signs of damage or disease.
You can learn more about possible reasons why your garden has so many snails in my article here: 14 Reasons Why Your Garden Has So Many Snails
What Attracts Snails To Your Plants?
Most gardeners have had the unfortunate experience of finding their plants demolished by hungry snails. But what exactly attracts these slimy creatures to your garden in the first place?
While several factors can contribute, a few main culprits are often to blame:
- Search for food: A snail is likely to end up in your potted plants or garden when scavenging for food. And since they are particularly fond of leafy greens, you will likely find them in your garden or greenhouse.
- Moisture: Snails thrive in moist environments, which explains why they’re naturally drawn to damp areas. This means that gardens in cool, moist, and shady areas are more likely to attract snails than those in sunny, dry locations.
- Hiding places: Sprawling gardens with lots of hiding places like logs and stones are also prime real estate for snails.
If you’re dealing with a snail problem, it’s helpful to consider these attraction factors and take steps to make your garden less appealing. I’ve written an extensive guide about how to keep snails away from plants. Don’t miss it: How to Keep Snails Away from Plants (16 Methods)
Snails Love To Feast on Leafy Plants & Vegetables
Although mostly associated with eating leafy greens, these gastropods are opportunistic eaters, meaning that snails will consume just about any plant material they come across. Some of the most common plants that make tasty meals for snails include lettuce, cabbage, and spinach.
However, they’ll also feast on flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
These plants have a high moisture content, which appeals to snails searching for food. They’re also relatively high in minerals, which are essential for snail health, so if you want to keep snails out of your garden, you may want to avoid planting these plants.
How To Get Rid of Snails and Keep Them Away
You can use several methods to eliminate snails from your potted plants. The best method will depend on the severity of the infestation and the type of plants you are dealing with.
Remove the Snails by Hand
The simplest way to get rid of snails is to remove them by hand. Wear gloves and go out to your garden at night with a flashlight, which can be most effective if you have a small number of snails.
You’ll be able to spot the snails thanks to their telltale slime trail. Once you find them, carefully pick them up and place them in a bucket of soapy water, which will kill them quickly and prevent them from causing any more damage to your plants.
Eliminate the Snails Naturally
Using Coffee Grounds
One of the best ways to get rid of snails is by sprinkling coffee grounds around your plants. The caffeine content in the coffee grounds will kill the snails within a few days, but according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, preparing a caffeine solution is even better.
Copper is a material that snails cannot cross, so you can use copper tape or mesh to create a barrier around your plants, which prevents the snails from accessing your plants in the first place. When using this technique, it’s best to target moist or well-covered areas that are mostly targeted by snails.
Growing Snail Resistant Plants
You can also try planting snail-resistant plants and vegetables or moving your potted plants to a sunnier spot. Another alternative is reducing moisture levels by improving drainage and increasing air circulation. Doing so will make the area around your plants less inviting to snails, effectively keeping them away.
Removing Potential Hiding Spots
Keeping your garden area tidy by removing potential hiding spots can also help discourage snails from making themselves at home. When using this method, it’s best to pay close attention to moist areas with rocks, logs, and tall enough plants.
Use Chemicals To Eliminate the Snails
If you’re not a fan of natural methods or you think they take too long, you can use chemical methods to eliminate snails. One option is to mix up a batch of saltwater and spray it on the infested plants, which will kill the snails but can also harm your plants if used excessively, so use this as a last resort.
Using Snail Baits
Several simple snail baits can be made from ingredients that are likely already in your pantry. For example, you can mix equal parts flour and salt, sprinkle the mixture around your plants, and watch the snails and slugs disappear.
Another effective snail bait uses Borax powder, sugar, and water. Mix 1 ½ tsp (4.9 ml) of Borax powder with 1 tbsp (14.8 ml) of sugar, then add ½ cup (0.12 L) of water to form a paste.a Apply the paste to cardboard or paper plates and place them near infested plants.
The snails and slugs will be drawn to the bait, but the Borax will kill them. Whichever bait you choose, be sure to use it sparingly and keep it away from pets and children.
Another chemical method for getting rid of snails by using pellets or granules containing iron phosphate. These baits are safe for humans and animals but deadly for snails. You can find these baits at your local nursery or garden center.
Water Your Plants at the Right Time
While there are several ways to control snail populations, one of the simplest and most effective methods is to water at the right time.
Snails are most active at night, so they’re often hard to spot until it’s too late.
One way to protect your plants is to water them in the morning rather than in the evening. Snails need moisture to survive, so they’re attracted to damp areas, so watering early in the day gives the soil a chance to dry out before nightfall.
In addition, water that settles on leaves provides a perfect environment for snails to lay their eggs. Watering early in the day ensures the water on the leaves evaporates, which reduces the number of snails in your garden.
Are Banded Snails Good for Your Plants?
Banded snails are native to the US and are often found in gardens and forests. Though they are often considered pests, banded snails are actually good for your plants and the ecosystem.
They aerate the soil as they travel through it, allowing air and water to reach plant roots more easily. They also consume dead leaves and other decaying matter, which promotes healthy plant growth.
As a result, these creatures play an important role in the ecosystem. If you find Banded snails in your garden, there’s no need to worry, as they prefer feeding on decaying matter and pests like aphids instead of fresh leaves.
Is Snail Poop Good Fertilizer?
Snails are often seen as pests, but did you know that their poop can be good for your garden? Snail poop is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, nutrients essential for healthy plant growth.
Furthermore, snail poop is a natural slow-release fertilizer, providing a steady supply of nutrients over time. So if you’re looking for an eco-friendly way to fertilize your garden, consider using snail manure.
Are There Any Benefits to Having Snails in Your Garden?
Snails are nature’s way of keeping things clean, as they eat dead or dying leaves and flowers as they move across your plants. They also aerate the soil as they move through it, which is good for plant roots, as it allows them to absorb nutrients and water better.
If you have a problem with insects and other garden pests, snails can help control the population, as they are happy to munch on these critters, which can save your plants from being eaten alive.
While there are some benefits of having snails on your potted plants, they are a major nuisance and, if left uncontrolled, can seriously damage your garden.
There are several ways to get rid of snails, but the most effective is probably using bait traps. You can also water your plants in the morning to allow the soil enough time to dry by the time snails are active at night.