Dealing with pests is a big part of gardening, and slugs and snails are among the most notorious problems in colder weather. This article will discuss slugs and snail problems for petunias, how to deal with them, and other essential information.
Do snails and slugs eat petunias?
Slugs and snails eat petunia. There are so few plants that are safe from slugs and snails. They will eat the leaves and flowers of petunia plants and make irregular holes in them. Controlling the moisture of the petunia garden is essential for stopping those mollusks.
Petunia plants are always trendy among gardeners. They are easy to grow, bloom for an extended period, and come in various colors. But it is tough to maintain healthy petunia if there are slugs and snails.
New gardeners find it difficult to control the slugs and snails problem. Those slow creatures can destroy your garden faster than you imagine if you don’t know what you are doing wrong and what to do to fix it.
First, let’s talk about how to identify slugs and snail damage. If you see irregular holes in petunia leaves but no caterpillar or other bugs around, the possibility is that slugs and snails are responsible. They hide in dark places in the daytime.
Slugs and snails are fast reproducers. Adult slugs can lay up to 500 eggs in a year. If you don’t take steps and there are no predators that hunt slugs and snails, they can cover your garden and even enter your home.
Moisture and shelters are the most important for slugs. They need a high amount of water to move and live. Try not to overwater the petunia plants and ensure a sound drainage system in the garden.
The slugs and snails become active at night time. They climb the plant and eat leaves, flowers, and growing parts until getting full. However, they prefer dry and decaying leaves for their dinner, but they will eat live plants too.
Before sunrise, they hide under fallen leaves, rocks, narrow cracks, or similar places. If you remove those places and keep your garden neat. They will not find any place to hide and become dehydrated in the open sun, or other predators will eat them.
Are slugs and snails bad for the petunias?
Yes, having slugs and snails in your petunia garden means you are not correctly caring for the plants. And obviously, slugs and snails feast on the leaves and flowers of the petunia plant, which is harmful to them.
High moisture in the soil is terrible for petunia plants. They need a sound water drainage system for optimum growth.
So, having many slugs and snails in the petunia garden indicates high moisture in the soil, and you need to find a way to fix that. High moisture benefits harmful slugs and snails and drawbacks the petunias.
How do you tell if slugs and snails are eating your petunia plants?
Examine the leaves and flowers carefully to identify the slugs and snail damage on petunia plants. Holes in the leaves and flowers are an indication of slugs damage. Caterpillars can also make holes in leaves, but you should find them easily.
Check the place by lifting fallen objects such as fallen leaves and stones. The snails and slugs hide under those objects. To be sure, visit the site at night with a flashlight. You should find some if there are slugs and snails in the garden.
How to stop snails and slugs eating petunias?
To stop slugs and snails from eating petunia plants, one must take steps to remove them from the garden. The slugs and snails are soft-bodied, and their body is sensitive to various pointy substrates and chemicals.
Any method of removing pests should have minimal impact on the environment, soil, and other animals. Let’s talk in detail about stopping slugs and snails from eating petunias.
Remove snails by hand:
When you notice a slug or snail striking your petunia plants, you can catch them one by one and remove them from your garden. This technique is more effective when you don’t have too many snails in your garden.
A small garden is ideal for removing slugs and snails by hand. But if you have a more extensive garden. You may need some extra hands to cover the entire area. About 200 snails can stay in one yard in favorable conditions.
Slugs and snails come out for food at nighttime. They are almost defenseless and can become other animals’ food in the daytime. The sunlight is also harmful to them as they need to stay wet to be alive.
All you need to do is visit the garden with gloves and a torch at night and catch every slugs and snail you see. After collecting all the visible slugs and snails, Squish them or throw them a few miles away from your house.
Catch them with traps:
Let’s start with the easy one. Just leave some board on your garden ground and leave the board overnight. The snails will gather under the board to hide. You can easily remove them in the morning.
Many gardeners use another trap to get rid of the snails. You will need a few pots or jars and beer or yeast. Make some small holes on the ground the size of the pots. Place the pot on the spot and pour some beer or sugar water and yeast.
The jars should be at the level of the garden floor.
Leave the traps overnight. The sweet smell will attract slugs and snails, and they will fall into the pot. You can remove them in the morning.
Make barriers to stop them from entering:
Make borders around the plants once you remove most of the snails from the part where you planted the petunias. The edge can be plants or substrates. Anything that has sharp edges can make a slug-protective border.
The substrate can be sharp sand, gravel, or broken eggshells. The slugs and snails can not pass the border as the pointy substrate damages their body and causes fluid loss.
How to get rid of slugs and snails permanently?
It is easy to get rid of the slugs and snails, but you must choose different pathways for a permanent solution. Let’s discuss the prevention methods of slug and snails in detail.
Slugs and snails need a high amount of moisture to live comfortably. By controlling the surface water in your garden, the number of slugs and snails will reduce dramatically within months.
When moisture becomes low, they can’t drink enough and move to other places for food. You may notice the mucus slugs and snails leave behind as they move. They constantly lose water while moving.
Remove objects and hiding spots:
Slugs and snails need a place to hide from predators and sunlight in the daytime. They can hide under rocks, bricks, leaves, or small holes in the ground. Remove all possible places where slugs and snails can conceal.
By removing the shelters, slugs and snails will be reduced by the predators and the sunlight.
Get ducks and chickens:
Ducks and chickens are predators of slugs and snails. They can also find snails under the leaves or small objects. If you have a few chickens and ducks, they will eat up all the slugs within a few weeks.
You must choose either the chemicals or the predators to get rid of slugs permanently. Chemicals are effective against the slugs, but they can be harmful to the animals that eat slugs or live in the garden soil.
Metaldehyde is a highly effective agent to remove slugs for years. But it is not suitable for other beneficial bugs and animals of the garden. However, there is an environment-friendly but slow-working chemical called iron phosphate.
What else can eat petunias at night?
Unfortunately, a lot of animals can eat petunia. Here is a list of the animals.
Caterpillars make similar holes as slugs and snails, but it is easy to spot caterpillars and remove them physically.
If there are deers in your area, take steps to protect them. A few of them can be enough to destroy your loving petunias in minutes.
Rabbits also eat petunias. Use some chemical borders or rabbit repellent to deter them.
Some species of chicken can eat petunia and other plants in your garden.
Mouse and squirrels:
Petunias are not safe from mice and squirrels. Some commercial repellents work best to repel different types of pest animals.
Slugs and snails can be very problematic for petunia plants. But be sure before taking steps against the slugs as many animals can feed on petunias. Keeping a petunia garden neat and dry is the key to controlling slugs and snails. Some traps, chemicals, and barriers can be effective against them.