Can Slugs Kill Plants?

One of the hurdles of gardening comes in the form of pests. Slugs are one of the most common garden pests that you may find in your garden. They eat their way through leaves and foliage, causing long term damage to your plants. But can slugs kill plants too?

Yes, slugs can kill plants. Slugs are bad for plants and will cause extensive, long term damage to them by eating leaves, roots and stems.

Slugs do not always kill plants but will damage them by eating them. You can tell that you have slugs in your garden as they leave small holes in plants. Slugs will leave a silvery slime trail behind to let their presence become known.

If a plant is established then it is unlikely that a slug will kill it. However, younger plants and seedlings are far more vulnerable and a slug can kill them.

Are Slugs Bad for Plants?

There are some dangerous drawbacks to slugs we cannot ignore. A large slug infestation can cause serious damage to gardens and destruction to plants. There are a number of reasons that slugs are bad for plants.

Slugs are good climbers and are known to climb plants to consume leaves and flowers. This makes most of the flowers and plants we grow in our garden susceptible to slug attacks.

As you well know, slugs have destructive eating habits which are detrimental to plants. These animals will eat more than their own weight, not knowing when to stop, gorging on every plant they can get their mouths on.

This is why when slugs are large in number, several garden plants can get destroyed in quick succession.

Not only are plants found on the ground unsafe, but slugs cause damage underground. Most of the damage we can see is limited to leaves; however, slugs feed on plant bulbs and roots.

When slugs attack plant roots, they will cause the foundation of your plants to become weak. If a plant gets infected, it can quickly spread throughout the garden. 

Unfortunately, bulbs in your garden are also at risk of getting damaged by slugs. Slugs like to feed on new bulbs, and since they are young, the bulbs are unable to protect themselves. As slugs consume bulbs, they cause eventual harm to the resulting plant’s quality, which leads to stunted growth.

Can Slugs Be Good for Plants?

Slugs have quite the reputation, especially with gardeners. But, you may be surprised to know that these slimy pests can provide some benefits to your garden. 

We all associate slugs with causing harm to gardens and destroying plants. However, it can be beneficial to have slugs in your garden. Slugs are slow creatures and fall prey to many animals. Therefore, slugs constantly attract animals like hedgehogs and birds to your garden.

Additionally, besides plants, slugs also consume dead matter and dead vegetation. This is of value to humans as slugs are doing their part as decomposers.

One important aspect as to why slugs are important for gardens is that they are pollinators. We only think about slugs damaging plants, but they provide valuable contributions by spreading seeds as they move from one plant to the next.

Slugs also spread seeds they find in faeces and vegetation.

Can Plants Recover from Slug Damage?

If your plants have fallen prey to slug damage, you may wonder if there is any hope for recovery. Most established plants do not get attacked by slugs.

Slugs like to consume younger plants, so most adult plants remain safe. However, some plants like hostas are susceptible to slug attacks. Plants like these can recover if they have only lost a few leaves.

On the other hand, if you have seedlings, they will not recover from slug damage. Slugs like to attack young plants like seedlings.

These young seedlings do not have the energy and the defences to fight against slug attacks. As soon as the slugs eat the leaves, the seedling is bound to die as they do not make any new leaves. 

If you have young seedlings in your garden, it would be best to look out for them. You can try various home remedies or go for pest controls. The other option is to grow them undercover, in a cold frame, until they have become most established.


One of the most common pests, slugs, cause severe damage to plants. A few slugs in your garden should be no problem. However, if the infestation is large then your plants can become damaged, and the infestation can spread.

Slugs also feed on bulbs and roots other than plants on the ground. It can be difficult for seedlings to recover from slug damage. However, a well-established plant can recover well. 

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