Whilst snails will eat many different types of plants. There are also several species of plants that will work to deter snails. We’ll look at some examples of these plants and why they work to deter snails.
Why do Certain Plants Deter Snails?
There are two main reasons as to why plants will work to deter snails: Smell and Texture. Both of these can make a plant unappetising to a snail as they do not contribute to a good taste.
They can also mean that it is more difficult for the snails to access the plants in the first place. There are some plants that have both deterring smells and textures, but most species have evolved to only produce one as they still work to deter snails.
What Flowers Deter Snails?
Let’s first look at what flowers can work well to deter snails. Here are 4 flowers that snails hate:
Snails actually strongly dislike the smell of lavender and will avoid it, despite the fact that it is loved by many people. Lavender is great for repelling pests as its smell also repels slugs too.
You can plant lavender quite strategically around your garden, to do so you can either create a barrier by lining your pathways with lavender or plant it alongside other plants that are much more vulnerable to snail infestations.
Geraniums are best described as having ‘furry’ stems. This furry texture on their stems is quite thick and short and feels very uncomfortable to snails, it also makes it very difficult for them to stick to so they are not able to climb up the flower to consume it.
Geraniums are very useful for repelling snails as some have leaves and stalks that stay quite close to the ground.
This means that snails would be forced to cross them if they wanted to get to neighbouring plants, so geraniums can act great as a barrier and some strains work really well in flower beds.
Jacob’s ladder plants are beautiful little flowers, also known as lily of the valley, that are also great at being snail and slug resistant. The reason for their resistance to these molluscs is because they have a very hairy texture.
The stems of Jacob’s ladder plants have long, thin and wiry hairs that grow from them and make it extremely difficult for slugs to climb. Because of this hair, they also dislike the texture of the leaves so they will not eat them.
You can use these flowers to make a lovely walkway through your garden that will also act to keep slugs out.
Snapdragons have furry textured stems, very similar to geraniums. The fur on the plants is short and thick and it means that snails are unable to get a grip on the plant stalk so they cannot reach the leaves or petals to eat them.
As well as their stalks being furry, their petals have a similar texture. This means that even if snails didn’t have difficulty climbing them, they would have no desire to feed on their flowers.
Although these flowers look delicate, they are actually fairly snail resistant. It’s the delicate stems that make it unpopular with snails who struggle to climb up an anemone before it breaks.
There is a risk that anemone seedlings will get eaten, however, so only transplant them when large enough.
What Other Plants Deter Snails?
It’s not only vibrant flowers that work at deterring snails. There are a number of shrubs and green plants which can also work well at repelling snails:
Once established, ferns are one of the easiest plants to care for and are generally low maintenance. The good news with ferns is that they have tough leaves which are challenging for both slugs and snails to consume.
Their prickly, rough texture also makes it uncomfortable for snails to crawl across.
These plants are bitter tasting, are challenging to climb and are spiny. It’s this combination of three things that make it unappealing to snails who will avoid going near lamb’s ears which are a great way to fill your borders with foliage that won’t get ruined.
What Herbs Deter Snails?
You’re not just limited to pretty flowers and bushy shrubs when it comes to using plants to deter snails. There are a number of herbs that also work well for deterring them from your garden:
Whilst rosemary is a herb, it does produce lovely little flowers when in season. And, as well as producing these flowers, it helps to repel snails with its strong scent. This scent is also believed to deter other similar pests such as slugs.
Rosemary is quite a hardy herb, and you can grow it outside to keep snails away from certain plants, or inside on a windowsill to deter snails from coming into your house.
Garlic comes from a family of alliums and all of these alliums are effective at deterring snails from your garden. Planting garlic is a great way to get rid of snails because they cannot stand the smell of this bulbous plant.
However, it should be noted that the main reason they dislike the smell of this herb is because of a compound called allicin, which is produced by garlic when it is chopped or crushed so, used crushed garlic is arguably more effective at deterring snails than planting garlic is.
To summarise, many different plant species have evolved to have smells or textures that are unappetising to snails.
Some flowers that have grown to have an off-putting smell include lavender whilst ones that have evolved to have an off-putting texture include geraniums and snapdragons. Herbs have also evolved to deter snails from smells, including rosemary and garlic.
Interspersing these plants with plants that snails are attracted to will help protect them from being eaten. All of the plants on these lists also work to repel slugs.
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