The snails seem to be out in record numbers lately, and a few of my clients have had snail issues. I too have come out for my morning dog walk to find freshly planted additions chomped to bits. There are a few plants that snails just love, and my beautiful Kalanchoe ‘Fang’ is certainly one of them. Every year it is the first plant chewed to bits, but with a combination of snail control methods it has survived each year. This year however I finally decided that it was time to turn it into new plants. Some of the leaves were spectacularly chewed, so I figured I’d pull off the good ones and start some new additions to my succulent collection.
There are many products on the market that are useful, of course there are poisons, and there are even some really good organic controls that are easy to use and safe for pets. There are many snail control methods. I’m not going to even mention the toxic ones here because I’m convinced that judicious use of and safe organic product like Sluggo or one of the home remedies can keep these culprits in check.
If you are going to buy a commercial product like Sluggo (which is iron oxide and other ingredients) you have to treat your garden at least twice. Apply per package directions and then again two weeks later. If you plant new plants after this time – you’ll have to treat again. Snails love fresh plants, and since the bait is biodegradable it won’t be around all that long. As far as safety for pets – it is supposed to be safe, but if your dog is a soil eater and he eats a lot of soil with Sluggo in it, he isn’t going to necessarily feel great. It would take a lot to hurt him though, so don’t leave the package around for him to get into.
If you’d like some more natural choices for Snail control here are a few that I’ve read about or used myself.
Believe it or not Snails prefer espresso to instant coffee – or I should say, caffeinated espresso kills them. You want to make a concoction of 10 parts water to 1 part caffeinated espresso (it is the caffeine that kills them). Mix the espresso and water together in a spray bottle and spray the soil near the plants and the leaves of the plant. This is not a great solution when it is rainy season as the solution becomes diluted and won’t work. So… you’ll have to spray again, and again.
Salt sucks the water out of snails, and since they are mostly water, bye bye snail. In the evening when it is getting dark, take your box of salt outside and spread out a generous line of salt across the paths that they usually take. If you are unsure of where they are coming from, all you have to do is get up early and look outside by your plants for slime trails. Make sure that you use a generous amount of sail, so that they have to go through it. Salt needs to be replenished both in wet weather and in windy weather, so keep your eyes opened and repeat as necessary.
Not sure of the science here, but when snails cross a copper wire they get a small zap! Once they are zapped the go backwards instead of forwards toward your new plants. If you can surround your garden bed, raised bed, or pots with some copper wire, you can keep those snails away.
Slugs and snails are bar flies I guess. They just can’t resist a good beer, so you can set out low dishes of beer for them to visit nightly. Remember to check the direction the snails are coming from (slime trails will tell you). Make some small indentations in the soil the size of the bottom of your dishes (so the rim is flush to the ground) and pop the dishes of beer into them about one hour after dark. When you wake up in the morning (if you are very early) you might find some drunken snails laying around, most likely you won’t because the birds will have had breakfast already. Those snails spent their night in the beer instead of chomping on your plants – win, win for you!.
Those are my little tricks for you, so I hope that they work for you. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of finding my plants chomped on or worse – completely gutted!
I enjoy collaborating with my clients to create the garden that suits them best. I can design for you, design and implement, or by popular demand, help you sort out the next steps you want to take in your garden. If you are interested in any or all of the above call me at 661-917-3521 or visit my website and contact me there.