Petunias are great bedding plants to have and now that we’re into spring, more and more people are planting them. A big risk for gardeners is slugs, so let’s see if slugs will eat your petunias and if so, what we can do to keep them away?
Do Slugs Like to Eat Petunias?
Slugs will eat almost any plant, this includes petunias. However, they seem to prefer decaying plant matter to healthy or growing plant matter. That being said, they will certainly chew their way through your living petunias if there is no decaying matter for them to feed on.
Slugs are most likely to feed on your petunias overnight, and as they cause damage your petunias will begin to decay. The decaying petunias will only attract more slugs so it is important to get rid of them quickly before they become even more difficult to deal with.
Now that we know that slugs may very well be eating your petunias, let’s have a look at ways that we can try to keep them away from these lovely bedding plants.
How to Protect Petunias from Slugs
The easiest way to stop slugs from eating your petunias is to prevent them from doing so in the first place. Thankfully, there are many different things that you can use to drive slugs away.
You can use these methods on your whole garden, or alternatively, just around the areas where you are wanting your petunias to grow.
Here is a list of several, natural ways to repel slugs that you can use to keep your petunias safe:
Coffee is a great way to deter pests from your plants, it is natural and does not cause any harm to your flowers unless used in excess. Sprinkling used coffee grounds onto soil is all you need to do to help repel slugs.
Slugs will be deterred because they dislike coming into contact with caffeinated soil and so they will not travel over it. Coffee is also good because it can help to repel other pests, such as squirrels, with its strong and bitter smell.
Using particular types of terrain is a simple way to prevent slugs from reaching your petunias. Because of the way that slugs travel, there are many different types of surfaces that are uncomfortable for them to cross.
The most effective terrains to counter slugs seem to be gravel and mulch. Both of these terrains contain small and sharp pieces that are uncomfortable for slugs to cross, and it can sometimes stick to their bodies and cause them damage.
To utilise this, simply sprinkle gravel or mulch on top of the soil of your petunia flower beds.
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.
What Other Pests Eat Petunias?
Slugs are sadly not the only pests that you may have to deal with when growing petunias. Here is a short list of some other pests you may find on your petunias and how to deal with them if you do.
Aphids can be found on almost any species of plants and petunias are no exception. Aphids can also be driven away by the smell of coffee, but you can also simply remove them from your plants by hand or with a blast of water from a hose.
Aphids can cause a lot of damage to your plants very quickly so need to be removed ideally as soon as possible.
Snails are very similar to slugs in a lot of ways, this includes what they eat and also how they can be repelled. As snails travel in the same way as slugs, they can also be repelled using difficult terrains and coffee.
These pests are most likely to eat your petunias overnight and will prefer to feed on the live petunias rather than the decaying plant matter that slugs prefer.
As mentioned, squirrels can be deterred by the smell of coffee, but these rodents may also be responsible for the destruction of your petunias. They are less likely to actually be eating your petunias compared to the other pests listed, but they may well be destroying your flower beds.
This is particularly relevant if your plants are being destroyed in the daytime as squirrels are diurnal and will not be eating your plants overnight.
What Else Do Slugs Eat?
There are many different things that slugs eat, they primarily eat plant matter, but this is not exclusive. Here is a list of examples of what some slugs may eat.
- Decaying Plant Matter – As mentioned, slugs prefer to eat decaying or dead plant matter more than anything else. They will eat the decaying matter of almost any plant, and this is their primary food source.
- Deceased Insects – Many slugs tend to have herbivorous diets, but if necessary, they will eat other types of dead animals.
- Fungi – This is mainly for slug species that reside in forests rather than gardens, but fungi can make up a big part of a slug’s diet.
To summarise, here are some key points. Slugs will eat petunias, primarily dead or decaying petunias. To keep slugs away from your petunias you can use difficult terrains such as gravel and mulch, or sprinkle used coffee grounds over the soil of your flower beds.
Other creatures that may be causing damage to your petunias include snails, squirrels and aphids.