Plants

Slug & Snail Resistant Plants: Top Picks They Won’t Eat

Snails and slugs are bad news for plants in your garden. Here’s why and how to keep them away. 

Despite being so small, slugs and snails can actually do a lot of damage to your garden plants. It’s simply annoying and even heartbreaking to invest time, effort, and other resources to care for and grow your garden plants, only to see them being completely eaten or ravaged beyond recognition by snails and slugs.

Like most gardeners, you probably get so frustrated with their presence, especially since getting rid of them is such a time-consuming and challenging task. Not to mention that controlling snails and slugs in the garden can sometimes involve the use of harmful chemicals which are no good for your plants either.

But, what if instead of trying to deter them with time-consuming and complex strategies, you could use a friendlier approach: growing plants that slugs and snails hate and won’t eat.

Keep reading below to find out why these hungry molluscs are so bad for your garden and how to keep them away by growing plants that they are not attracted to!

Why Are Snails and Slugs So Bad for Your Garden Plants?

Snails and slugs are garden soft-bodied pests that can wreak havoc in your garden. A slug or snail infestation in your outdoor space could result in slime trails, damaged leaves, missing seedlings, and most of your garden plants eaten to the point they are beyond recognition or die. Plus, besides eating your plants, they are also pretty disgusting, and they aren’t the most admirable view to have in your outdoor space.

First, let’s understand why snails and slugs decided to make a home out of your garden. These hungry molluscs are attracted to several factors found in gardens, such as:

  • Wet soil- Helps them stay hydrated and retain their body moisture
  • Wooden logs and stones- They hide underneath these to prevent getting dehydrated from the sunlight and protect themselves from other dangers during the daytime.
  • Tall grass- Another excellent spot where snails can hide from the sunlight and other risks during the daytime.
  • Garden plants rich in nutrients- Plants with fleshy stems and leaves are preferred by snails and slugs as they hold a lot of water which helps them stay hydrated.

So, if you offer them all of these things, it’s no wonder that snails and slugs decided to spend their time in your outdoor space.

Now, you could do plenty of things to make your garden less attractive to these pests, from avoiding keeping your soil wet to remove all the water features or getting rid of all large rocks and other garden decorations. Yet, all these strategies may also make your outdoor space less attractive to pollinators and birds.

You could also try to “fight” these molluscs with various strategies, from removing them by hand to covering your garden beds with layers of gravel, bark, or wood chips, using molluscicides, or even sprinkle broken eggshells on the ground. But all these strategies require some of your time, and they don’t guarantee that snails and slugs will never again make their way to your outdoor space.

So, what other option do you have? You have the option of planting garden plants that snails and slugs hate.

10 Plants to Keep Snails and Slugs Away from Your Garden

Luckily, snails and slugs don’t simply eat any plant they see. There are some plants that these greedy little leaf-chompers actually turn their noses up at. More precisely, snails and slugs hate, and won’t eat, plants that are too hard for them to chew and those that are highly scented.

To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of ten plants that these pests absolutely hate and won’t eat. Plant these in your outdoor space, and snails and slugs will never come back again unless they want to starve.

1. Ferns (Tracheophyta)

Ferns have very thin and difficult-to-chew leaves, which makes them unattractive to snails and slugs. Perhaps the fact that they are slug-resistant is one of the reasons why fern plants have been around for such a long time.

Ostrich Fern
Ostrich Fern

Ferns are somehow low maintenance. The only things they need to thrive are moist and well-draining soil and partial shade. While they don’t grow attractive flowers, they are still worth growing in the garden for their pretty foliage and the fact that they are incredibly hardy when it comes to the attacks of common pests, including snails and slugs.

Common types of ferns you can plant in your garden to keep snails and slugs away include Christmas Fern, Cinnamon Fern, Japanese Painted Fern, and Maidenhair Fern.

2. Lavender (Lavandula)

One of the things that snails and slugs hate about plants is their strong fragrance, which is the case with Lavender that definitely gets up to their nose. Lavender releases a particularly intense scent that keeps these pests away. So, it’s an ideal plant to grow in your garden if you want to enjoy a pleasant smell and to keep snails and slugs away.

Lavender
Lavender

Lavender is an easy and rewarding plant to have around. It only requires sandy and well-drained soil and a lot of sunlight to thrive. Depending on your climate, this plant will grow either as a perennial, if you have an arid climate, or as an annual, if you live in an area with a humid climate.

3. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)

Similar to Lavender, Rosemary is an aromatic plant with a strong fragrance that snails and slugs hate. A Rosemary bush could actually protect your garden from these pests for over two decades because that’s how long this plant can live.

blossoming rosemary plant
blossoming rosemary plant

The added benefit of growing Rosemary in your garden, besides repelling snails and slugs and filling your outdoor space with a pleasant scent, is the fact that you can use it in your cooking as a seasoning. You can add it to various dishes, from soups to salads and stews.

Rosemary is also incredibly hardy and low maintenance. The main things it needs to thrive are sandy, well-drained soil, and a lot of sunlight.

4. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

This is another plant that snails and slugs don’t want to eat because of its hard foliage that would be too difficult for them to chew.

Wormwood can be a beautiful addition to any garden thanks to its beautiful leaves that maintain a compact shape, and some varieties even release a pleasant scent in the outdoor space. The most common and popular variety of Wormwood, often used in low-maintenance landscapes, is the Silver Mound Wormwood.

Artemisia absinthium
Artemisia absinthium

To thrive, Wormwood needs to be planted in a very sunny location and to have soil that provides good drainage. Keep in mind that this plant really hates wet feet, so don’t overwater it.

5. Bugleweed (Ajuga)

Bugleweed is a hardy and low-maintenance plant that can have plenty of benefits for your garden, including keeping snails and slugs away. It has hard foliage that snails and slugs don’t like to struggle to chew. The only problem with Bugleweed is the fact that it has an aggressive spread, precisely because it can grow and thrive even in more inhospitable environments.

Bugleweed
Bugleweed

For this evergreen perennial to thrive and produce larger foliage, it needs full sun. This plant also prefers moist soil but can also adapt to drought pretty well.

You should also know that even if slugs and snails and many other pests won’t get close to it, this plant is susceptible to some diseases such as crown rot if it grows in very hot and humid climates.

6. Yucca (Yucca filamentosa)

Yucca plants have leaves that simply aren’t attractive meals for slugs. They are fibrous and rigid, which makes them very difficult to chew, so snails and slugs will avoid them at any cost. Besides that, the substance contained in these plants can actually also be extracted and used as a slug and snail repellent.

Yuccas
Yuccas

If you’re providing plants with the right growing conditions, they are pretty easy to care for. They prefer gardens where they get a lot of sunlight and well-draining soil. It would help if you also avoided overwatering Yucca plants as they don’t like wet feet.

Besides keeping pests away from your garden, thanks to the sharp leaves and their waxy blooms, Yucca plants can help you create attractive displays in your outdoor space too.

7. Catmint (Nepeta)

Just like it’s the case with Lavender and Rosemary, Catmint plants have a strong smell that snails and slugs hate and prefer to stay away from. Being an aromatic plant, Catmint will also make an amazing tea. Plus, while repelling pests, it attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Flowering Catmint
Flowering Catmint

It is a pretty low-maintenance plant that can adapt to almost every growing condition. More precisely, it can thrive in both full sun and partial shade. It also does well in both average and very well-drained soils.

Larger varieties such as the 6 Hills Giant is more appropriate for larger outdoor spaces. So, make sure you choose the appropriate size for your garden.

8. Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantine)

Lamb’s Ears has hairy and hard leaves, which is why slugs and snails don’t find this plant an attractive meal. Yet, the distinctive velvety texture of its leaves will definitely attract you to the plant. In fact, its leaves can be used as a “band-aid” for healing wounds like cuts and painful bee stings.

Stachys byzantine
Stachys byzantine

While it doesn’t produce pretty flowers, it is worth growing this plant only for its velvety texture and appearance. To thrive, Lamb’s Ear needs to be grown in full sun, or partial shade and very well-draining soil as the plant is susceptible to root rot. Keep in mind to only water the plant when the soil is completely dry. It can be grown as ground cover thanks to its mat-forming foliage.

9. Euphorbia (Euphorbia)

Euphorbia plants contain a milky sap that has a bitter taste that snails and slugs simply hate. Beware that the sap of Euphorbias can also irritate the human skin, which is why these plants are considered poisonous. Keep in mind to use gloves to avoid skin contact when handling Euphorbia plants.

Euphorbia myrsinites
Euphorbia myrsinites

This genus contains many plants such as annuals, perennials, shrubs, and succulents. So, there’s a wide variety you can choose from. Most Euphorbia plants are pretty low maintenance and have minimal growing needs. They typically prefer partial shade and moist soil that also provides good drainage like cactus/ succulent potting mix. With succulent varieties, it is extremely important to avoid overwatering them as they are susceptible to root rot.

10. Japanese Anemone ( Anemone hupehensis)

Although establishing it in the garden can be a bit challenging, once they are in, they spread really fast and easy and keep slugs and snails away from your outdoor space, thanks to their rough foliage. In fact, because they can be somehow invasive in certain soils, gardeners with small outdoor spaces prefer to grow them in containers to control their spread better.

Japanese Anemone
Japanese Anemone

Japanese Anemones are also a joy to have in your garden as they produce very pretty, daisy-like blooms in shades of white and pink. Plus, the foliage also helps create a fantastic textural impression. To thrive, Japanese Anemones prefer to be grown in moist but well-drained soil and also need light shade.

In Conclusion

Snails and slugs in the garden could quickly mean the death of the plants you’ve worked so hard to grow and care for. In case of a slug or snail invasion, your garden plants will become the meals of these pests until they die. But this only happens if the plants are attractive to these hungry and greedy molluscs. So, planting these ten plants will ensure that your outdoor space will never again be targeted by snails and slugs.

Choosing plants that snails and slugs hate and won’t eat is a friendly way to control how much damage these pests can cause to your garden. Some of these plants repel snails and slugs thanks to their difficult-to-chew foliage, while others keep them away with their strong fragrance.

How are you keeping snails and slugs away from your garden? Share your experience in the comments below!

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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