Slugs will eat almost any kind of plant matter that they can get to and marigolds have been described by people as trap plants for slugs. But do slugs eat marigolds or are they just attracted to them?
Yes, slugs do eat marigolds, unfortunately. In fact, slugs seem to love marigolds. They’ll eat away at the leaves, initially, which will lead to the flowers eventually dying.
Will Slugs Eat Marigolds?
Slugs will eat marigolds, in fact, they appear to be one of the slugs’ favourite plants to eat. They will primarily eat the leaves of marigolds, but they will eat other parts of the plant as well.
Slugs usually feed on plants, including marigolds, overnight so it is quite possible to awake in the morning to a set of destroyed marigolds.
Why is Marigold a Trap Plant?
A trap plant is a temporary plant that is added to your garden to attract pests. Marigolds work well as trap plants for attracting slugs. The idea is that after the slugs have infested the marigolds, you then remove the marigolds and the slugs along with them.
Marigolds are hardy, cheap, and easy to grow, which is why they are often chosen as trap plants. A good reason to choose marigolds as your trap plant is that marigolds will also act as a trap plant for some other pests that are listed below.
Much like slugs, snails are very attracted to marigolds and will feast on large amounts of marigold leaves and flowers overnight. Marigolds work great as a trap plant if you appear to have a snail problem.
Nematodes live in the soil of plants and are very easily attracted to marigolds.
Marigolds work great for trapping nematodes for disposal, but you need to make sure that you do not reuse any of the soil that the nematodes have lived in, otherwise some may survive the removal and move on to your other plants.
How Can You Protect Marigolds from Slugs
Whilst marigolds are a great trap plant, if you are not wanting to use them as a sacrificial plant, then you need to learn how to prevent these flowers from being eaten by slugs.
Thankfully, gardeners have tried and tested many different natural methods of slug repellents, and here are some of the most effective ones to help you protect your marigolds.
Most of these methods involve utilising terrain that is difficult for slugs to cross or by using smells that slugs dislike:
There are many types of gravel and all of them can be effective for driving slugs away. Because gravel is essentially made up of tiny pieces of stone, it is a difficult terrain for slugs to navigate.
The stone is cold and uncomfortable and also dangerous for slugs, due to the sharp edges.
You can use this terrain by simply sprinkling gravel on top of the surrounding soil of marigold pots or flowerbeds, making it slug-proof.
Mulch is made up of a variety of plant materials, some of which can be very sharp. These include wood shavings, pieces of bark and straw. Much like gravel, mulch is very difficult for slugs to cross because of the sharp textures, it will often stick to their bodies and cause them pain.
Once again, all you need to do is sprinkle some mulch on the soil surrounding your marigolds and then the slugs will not travel across it to reach your plants.
Another good thing about using mulch is that it is designed to keep your soil healthy and to help your plants grow.
Whilst many humans like the bitter smell of coffee, slugs do not like the smell nor the caffeine that slugs produce. Sprinkling wet coffee grounds on top of your soil will help to deter slugs as they will leave the area if they come into contact with caffeinated soil.
Coffee can also provide good nutrients for the soil and help your plants to grow. The smell of coffee also helps to deter other garden pests, including squirrels and ants.
Lavender is great because it attracts many beneficial insects to your garden whilst helping to repel pests that you do not want in your garden. If you want your lawn to smell nice and be slug-free, lavender is the way to go.
Lavender is a hardy plant, so it is good to grow in your garden as well. You can easily intersperse this plant in flower beds and pots with your marigolds, the two will grow well and the smell of the lavender will keep the slugs away from where your dahlias are.
Encourage Natural Predators
Whilst this method won’t repel your slugs, it will certainly help to keep the population under control. Many slug predators, such as hedgehogs, will visit gardens in search of food and can be encouraged to visit frequently if an appropriate shelter is set up for them.
This method will also help you to control the population of other pests, such as snails, as many slug predators also eat them.
Unfortunately, none of these methods are fully guaranteed to keep your garden free of slugs at all times.
The best way to deal with slugs is to prevent them so implement these repellent methods as early as you can. You will also stand a better chance against slugs if you use several deterrent methods at once.
To summarise, here are some key points. Slugs love to eat marigolds and they are therefore often used as slug trap plants. They can also work to trap snails and nematodes. If you are not wanting to use your marigolds as trap plants, then you need to protect them.
You can use gravel or mulch to surround your marigolds and keep them safe or repel them with the smells of coffee or lavender.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden