How To Stop Slugs From Eating Your Marigolds

Marigolds are slugs’ favorite snacks, and many pest control officials recommend planting marigolds near more valuable crops, using the bright blossoms as slug bait. However, protecting your marigolds from slugs can be a real challenge, especially considering how much damage slugs can do to your plants. So, how do you stop slugs from eating your marigolds? 

To stop slugs from eating your marigolds, you must eliminate hiding spots and manually remove any slugs you can see. You can also use abrasive repellents or traps to eliminate. Only use commercial slug baits and pesticides as a last resort since they may harm pets and beneficial wildlife. 

Since it can be challenging to rid your marigolds of slugs, you’ll need a complete pest control plan to eliminate your garden pests effectively. So, let’s go through the methods you can use to eliminate slugs from your marigold patch and discuss how to implement them for the best results.

1. Plant Marigolds Away From Slugs’ Favorite Hiding Spaces

The first step in slug prevention is planting your marigolds. Planting the flowers in a spot where slugs won’t go will be the best way to ensure that you don’t wake up to holes in your flowers’ leaves and petals. 

Slugs need dark, cool, damp hiding places during the day since the sun can quickly scorch and kill them. 

So, you’ll likely develop a slug problem if your marigolds are near a pile of stones, mulch, compost, bricks, plant pots or containers, or a pile of wood. In addition, slugs like to hide in the grass and ground covering plants such as vines and herbs, so keeping marigolds far from your lawn-covering plants can ward off slugs. 

Only plant marigolds in areas with clear, exposed soil for the best results. Remove things like garden ornaments, bricks, pots, or anything else nearby that might serve as shelter for your garden slugs, and be sure to weed the area regularly. 

2. Regularly Pick Slugs off of the Marigolds

Manual slug removal is an excellent practice for any gardener, and it can do quite a bit to eliminate the pests in your marigold patch. 

Slugs will naturally gravitate towards your marigolds, and there’s little you can do about it unless you use pesticides to ward them off. However, you can use your marigolds as bait and collect the slugs by hand to isolate and eliminate them. 

This method works very well for any garden with marigolds since slugs prefer marigolds over most other plants. So by using the marigolds as bait, you can protect the rest of your garden from slug damage. 

Since slugs are nocturnal, you will need to wait until around an hour after dark to collect slugs from your plants. Then, you can use a flashlight to spot them and pick them off of your marigolds. You can relocate the slugs or kill them by drowning them in water. 

3. Place an Abrasive Slug Repellent Beneath Your Marigolds

If you have ever touched a slug, you know that they have very soft, gummy bodies. This softness has led many people to believe that sharp, granular materials can repel and harm slugs, but the truth is a bit more complicated. 

One common material that gardening bloggers and writers often recommend placing around plants is eggshells. However, eggshells are not effective. Slugs and snails both enjoy eating eggshells for the calcium and proteins inside, so avoid using them unless you want to attract more pests to your marigolds. 

Likewise, abrasives such as sand, sawdust, or gravel won’t harm a snail or slug. Slugs produce excess mucus, protecting them from most harsh materials.

If you want to learn more about how slugs can use something as simple as mucus to protect themselves from sharp objects, check out this video from The Science Channel on Youtube: 

However, an abrasive that is either alkali or overly acidic will break down the mucus on a snail or slug and expose its body to sharp, damaging materials. 

Some abrasives that will work for slug prevention include: 

  • Coffee grounds
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Ashes and soot

These abrasives work because they all contain chemicals that actively harm slugs and snails, breaking down the mucus layer on their skin or poisoning them. However, they are all pet and human-safe, which is a significant benefit.  

When placing any of these materials around your marigolds, pour them around the plants’ bases, creating a closed circle at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) tall and 3 inches (7.62 cm) wide. 

Reapply your abrasive material every time it rains or washes away to ensure that you have protection around the marigolds. 

4. Set Slug Traps Near Your Marigolds

Although you can use marigolds as a trap, there are several other plants and food slugs like even more than marigolds. You can use these foods to lure slugs into a container of water, where they will drown. 

Some scents and foods that attract slugs are: 

  • Sweet citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit
  • Yeast, such as that found in beer and bread dough
  • Wilted cabbage, lettuce, or tomatoes
  • Wet bran or oatmeal

Any of these foods will make suitable bait for a slug trap. To make a trap, you’ll also need a container. You can use an old yogurt container, cup, or anything else from your recycling stash.

Here’s how to set and use the trap: 

  1. Cut small 1-inch (2.54 cm) windows in the container around the rim so the slugs can enter the trap. 
  2. Place your bait into the trap. If you plan on using dry foods such as lettuce, oranges, or tomatoes, fill the container with at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) of water. Slugs drown quickly and can’t move very fast, so just a bit of water will do. 
  3. Dig a hole for the trap near your marigolds. You want to dig it deep enough to bury the container, but the top inch of the container, where you cut the little “windows,” should project from the soil’s surface. 
  4. Place the container in the soil, then cover it with a lid, a piece of plastic wrap, or aluminum foil. This lid will keep the rain out and prevent beneficial insects from drowning in your trap. 

Once you have set up your trap, wait a day, then refresh it, discarding the spoiled bait and dead slugs. Set the trap, wait another day, and keep repeating this process during the warm season to keep your garden’s slug population under control. 

5. Use Commercial Pesticides as a Last Resort

Commercial pesticides aren’t for everyone, but they make slug control quick and simple. 

Pesticides can be dangerous for children, pets, and beneficial insects such as bees. In some cases, they may even harm birds. So, only opt for a commercial pesticide if you are desperate to eliminate the slugs. 

If you’re ready to commit to a pesticide, you’ll want to use either iron phosphate or metaldehyde. 

Iron phosphate interferes with a slug’s digestive system, damaging their stomachs until the slugs die. Most products containing iron phosphate for slug elimination come in pellet form. The iron phosphate pellets also include grains and sweeteners to attract the slugs. 

An example of an effective and reliable iron phosphate slug-icide is this Garden Safe Slug & Snail Bait, which is available on This particular product is organic and made just for use in the garden, and it won’t harm any of your marigolds or other plants. It’s also safer for pets and humans than most other slug-killing chemicals, so I recommend this one before turning to metaldehyde. 

On the other hand, metaldehyde is your stereotypical, incredibly effective, but toxic insecticide. An excellent example of a popular metaldehyde slug bait is this Southern Ag Snail & Slug Bait (also on Amazon). This bait will work very quickly, making it ideal if you’re rushing to eliminate the slugs in your garden. 

It’s a great product, but you must be careful when using it. Dogs and cats are particularly attracted to most metaldehyde baits since they include sweeteners like molasses, which causes poisonings. 

Final Thoughts

Slugs love marigolds, but you can kick them to the curb with the right control plan.

To keep the slugs away from your marigolds: 

  • Eliminate sources of shelter for slugs.
  • Manually remove slugs from the flowers and soil.
  • Set traps and place effective abrasives around the plant’s base.

If these measures do not work, you may consider a chemical pesticide, which will make short work of slug elimination. However, always use these products sparingly and with caution since they may cause harm to other organisms. 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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