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gardengal48

Talk to me about..........

slug control. I live in the PNW and we can grow slugs the size of aircraft carriers!! And they are everywhere. I already grow all my hostas in containers to keep them away from the deer buffet and even though I bait frequently with Sluggo, the plants still get munched. And they are an issue with other plants as well. I had to replant an annual container twice last season, as the slugs mowed down the starts as soon as I brought them home from the nursery (PNW slugs are apparently very acrobatic!).

Obviously I need a stronger punch than the Sluggo provides :-) I've read about the success many here have had with ammonia and think that may be the next step.

So what kind of dilution? And how often to spray? Foliage only or the surrounding soil as well? Any issues with plants not responding well to being doused with ammonia?

Any other suggestions besides beer traps or copper tape? I've tried both and not found either to be very effective.....Sluggo is much better but still not great.

Comments (60)

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    I grew a hosta in a pot on top of a three foot chimney pot. The snails found them immediately. I’ve seen snails on a windowsill three floors up.

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
  • Mars SC Zone 8b Mars
    6 months ago

    "except hiring a herd of geese!"

    @gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) You should consider trying that out. 😂

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  • Jay 6a Chicago
    6 months ago

    Slugs supposedly do not like touching copper. They get an electric shock, I hear. You can surround the area they cross with old pennies minted prior to 1983, or purchase copper wire or any pure copper that will repel them. The copper can also make Hydrangea more blue. I haven't tried it myself, because slugs aren't a problem here. Video is a copper pot treatment.

    https://www.facebook.com/mairlyn.smith/videos/1095653377163315/

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked Jay 6a Chicago
  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    I've tried copper - it doesn't work. Or not nearly well enough to be a practical solution. And I'm not sure what you've read but copper has NO effect on hydrangea coloring :-)

  • linaria_gw
    6 months ago

    I think the timing is important

    in my last place I had a shaded (shady??) border with a small collection of Hosta,


    we have mild winters and I spread the first slug pellets around February, with Primula vulgarisms flowering, snowdrops around


    ok, it is a matter of scale as well, we had a tiny yard, but in general it helps if you get them early


    in some locations you have slugs coming in from the surrounding area, an aunt of mine had such a graden, a creek just beyond the hedge along her border, with a meadow, she was kind of drowning in slugs. I still would recommend slug pellets or something.



    best of luck, bye, Lin



  • oursteelers 8B PNW
    6 months ago

    I do the 1/9 ratio also. Just started in the fall so no review of success from personal experience.

    My goal is to help slow down the population so it’s at normal people’s levels vs Western Wa levels.

    Who knows? They aren’t around yet but we shall see when it warms up. I can say it was very satisfying on fall mornings to go around with my spray bottle and shoot them and any eggs I found

  • windymess z6a KC, Ks
    6 months ago

    What Tsugajunkie said! And do it early.

  • sunnywood4bChazyNY
    6 months ago

    First thing I would say is it depends on how ma Hostas you have If yo have a large garden the ammonia method is the best way. Start in the spring just as they start to show. Spray the entire garden. Then do it onc a month until frost. Next year do it early ,then maybe two more times. After that once early and if they show their ugly heads Then once a year if you don’t see a reacourance. Good luck!

  • Patti ~ Chicago Zone 5b/6a
    6 months ago

    I can not wait to try this method. Me and my mother get them awful. She has an area that has rock in her back yard and they hide there all day and eat all the flowers we plant all summer long. They especially love her marigolds. The size of the ones in her area are at least 6 inches and so ugly. I never tried Sluggo for her. They can climb up my husband’s wheelchair lift to eat the flowers I put on the top during summer. They are fast too. Here today and gone tomorrow. I am happy I found this thread. Thanks all.

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked Patti ~ Chicago Zone 5b/6a
  • Babka NorCal 9b
    6 months ago

    Are you sure it is slugs/nails that are doing the munching? I am in Silicon Valley down by San Jose, and after using Sluggo judiciously for several years, I have completely eliminated them from the perimeter of my house. We get snails over 1" across that climb up to the eaves.

    How often do you bait? I put them under the base of my pots, which sit on 1/2" redwood sticks, so those ba$tards have to work to get up to the plants.

    Could you have earwigs? Roll up some damp newspaper and see what you have in the am.

    Ammonia or salt (!) is just a contact thing, and I don't think you want to sit out there all night looking for them.

    Perhaps Sluggo Plus is for you. It kills the slugs/snails as well as other critters such as earwigs.

    With Sluggo you won't see bodies, so it is only when the damage stops that you will know that it did the job.

    -Babka


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  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
    6 months ago

    1 inch? Ha, those are tiny 😉



    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
  • windymess z6a KC, Ks
    6 months ago

    Lolololol!

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Yes, I am sure it is slug and/or snail damage :-) I have lived in the PNW all my life and slugs - BIG slugs - are omnipresent. Snails are less of an issue but still a bother. Now that I live surrounded by woods in a more shady than not garden, the situation has escalated. I am sure they are lurking and breeding like maniacs in the wooded undergrowth (blackberries and English ivy predominately) but I am not in the position of baiting the entire greenbelt!!

    I have used Sluggo for years and despite frequent applications, it is just not doing the job well, especially with containerized plants, of which I have a large collection. I will continue to use it - I have a large stock of it on hand - but will supplement with the ammonia spray as well to see if that helps.

    I am just so tired of mothy looking, munched on, shredded hosta foliage that I am almost to the point of not bothering with them any more. If the ammonia doesn't improve things, that's the next step. It's not like I am hurting for good shade plants that the slugs don't bother :-)

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    6 months ago

    didnt you say you were down the road from naylor hosta... ask them.. report back ...


    ken

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Ken - no plans to move :-) Aside from the slug population, this is gardening paradise!! If the ammonia doesn't work, then the hostas get tossed. I realize that is considered blasphemy but there is no point in growing them if they are always going to look like they've been through the food processor!!

    btw, my nighttime slug hunts will probably be early morning instead. I am typically up by dawn if not before and hopefully can catch them before they head for their daytime hiding places.

  • linaria_gw
    6 months ago

    re sluggo: I just looked up the actual ingredient


    so ferric phosphate is the organic version.


    I sometime visit a German garden forum, there are some very knowledgeable veggie nerds, and one of them pointed out that the ferric phosphate tends to be useless in spells of longterm rain, something about dissolving too fast??? could that be a factor in your garden?


    he said like, if it is important plants you worry about you should switch to the "classic" metaldehide version. would be worth a trial )if you haven't got any dog or cat to worry about...)


    I garden more or less without conventional "chemicals" but I have a small pack of the conventional slug pellets after I lost 3 sets of sown salad seedlings to slugs in the rainy phase of last spring...

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked linaria_gw
  • Thyme2dig NH Zone 5
    6 months ago

    I’ll probably get laughed at for this, but My mother in law put out pie pans of beer in evening in amongst her hostas. Whenever she did this the pans would be full of slugs in the morning. I don’t know how often she would do this to control them. But she DID control them. Had tons of hostas and they would suffer little to no slug damage. She was in LI NY, and the slugs were huge and gross there. Always a joy when I was a kid stepping on a huge slug in the pool area with bare feet at night..... 🤢

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  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Would never consider using metaldehyde slug bait. I have a dog and even if I didn't, there is far too much wildlife around for something that toxic to be applied in my garden. And my Sluggo does get reapplied after heavy rains....although they are very infrequent during the primary growing season. The metaldehyde needs reapplication after rains or heavy irrigation as well, so no real advantage

  • Jay 6a Chicago
    6 months ago

    Have you considered just growing plants that are slug resistant? Hostas aren't worth the trouble trying to keep immaculate. Their 15 minutes of fame ended decades ago. I find them quite ugly, boring, overrated, and grossly overused actually. All lined up like little slug enticing soldiers. So, so tired of that look.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    Original Author
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Well, that's certainly a personal opinion. Not sure how well that is shared by members of the Hosta forum where this is posted :-) And I quite like them. Since hostas are by no means the only plant the slugs bother, just eliminating them is NOT solving my problem! But I am prepared to toss the bunch if the Sluggo-ammonia spray combo does not do the trick.

  • djacobz568sewi
    6 months ago

    Even though I can’t like his comment, Ken says it all. You must do the year round preventative treatment. Kill the eggs early spring, kill any laid eggs late fall. You will see a massive difference the following year......you may need to do some intermittent treatment during the summer on plants more susceptible to slugs.

    debra

  • snow (4/5)
    6 months ago

    Maybe you can find a way to encourage beetles, toads, and other predators to eat the slugs.

  • cercis47
    6 months ago

    Are there any slug resistant plants? Cactus maybe?


    i have the same problem in my PNW garden, surrounded by forested areas and wet pastureland. Some years worse than others but always a wretched problem. I have tried coffee grounds, eggshells, copper, Sluggo, grapefruit traps, and oh so many other things.


    i am going to try the spring fall ammonia drench this year but am worried about the ammonia solution killing more than slugs e.g. eneficial insects and microbes. Does anyone have an answer to that?


    i have found some positive use for beer traps and crushed oyster shells to protect smaller plants but my conclusion after years of fighting them, ( agreeing with Ken and djcob) is a year long battle with diligent use of multiple prongs of attack, none of them easy or once ons.







    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked cercis47
  • snow (4/5)
    6 months ago

    Just a follow up to my note about encouraging predators - here’s a website I found a while back. It has interesting videos showing predators eating slugs.


    https://www.slughelp.com/promote-biodiversity-prevent-garden-pests-like-slugs/


  • Embothrium
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Certain Hosta are much less bothered by them and that is what I used to grow as a result. For instance sieboldiana elegans and ventricosa.

  • deanna in ME Barely zone 6a, more like 5b
    6 months ago

    I don't understand why beer doesn't work for you. It's like a MIRACLE tonic for me. I swear, I put out a beer pan and within an hour I have ten slugs making a beeline for it, following radii from all directions. By morning it's chock full of glorious dead mushy slugs. I take shallow deli containers and put them in the ground flush with the soil/mulch. It's amazing. I've had plants eaten to nearly the ground as new foliage came up, and just two or three beer nights made all the difference. After that, leaves continued to grow and no more slugs until the next egg hatching. I don't know if it's my area. As I've said before, I do live near Boston so I could have an influx of Irish slugs looking for a pub. As for your aircraft carrier slugs, maybe you can blame Boeing. They are headquartered in your area, right?!

  • Mars SC Zone 8b Mars
    6 months ago

    @floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK those are huge snails! @gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) Maybe adding sharp objects will kill them. Like rose thorns. Or some barbed wire pieces. Also you should try planting some roses would repel them.

  • oursteelers 8B PNW
    6 months ago

    I don’t think roses will help in the battle against slugs/snails. I have many, including ones where thorns pretty much cover entire canes and slugs love my yard.

    Beer did work here but one of my labs also likes beer so that method had to be stopped

  • Mars SC Zone 8b Mars
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Your dog likes beer?😂

    Your snails would probably die of being run over by a beer-loving dog while they were walking toward the beer trap.

  • Patti ~ Chicago Zone 5b/6a
    6 months ago

    I have a dog also so the beer traps are out. I am going to go with the ammonia diluted and spray this Spring - Summer and Fall. I hope people will report their results. Is it safe to spray my lawn also?

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
    6 months ago

    Mars, I’m afraid none of those suggestions is going to have any effect at all on a snail. They live in nature, for goodness sake. They're built to thrive amongst every existing prickle, prong, thorn or spike. As the poet knew...


    The year's at the spring
    And day's at the morn;
    Morning's at seven;
    The hill-side's dew-pearled;
    The lark's on the wing;
    The snail's on the thorn;
    God's in His heaven—
    All's right with the world!”

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
  • Mars SC Zone 8b Mars
    6 months ago

    @Patti ~ Chicago Zone 5b/6a Yeah, the ammonia helps plants grow. Ammonia is found in soil but it isn't enough to kill the slugs and snails. One problem about that, is that the weeds in your garden will flourish. So lawn maintenance will get harder.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Golly, this has been entertaining!!

    No, I do not intend to place barbed wire in my garden :-) And roses do not repel slugs......and my garden is too shady to grow roses anyway :-) If PNW slugs can live in Himalayan blackberry thickets, a few rose thorns are no deterrent at all!! My experience with beer traps is that they are not at all effective for any containerized plantings and only moderately so for inground ones.......plus I have a dog. So those are a no-go as well.

    Thanks for all the input but unless anyone comes up with more effective solutions, I will stick to the Sluggo AND ammonia spray. Or maybe just give up growing hostas. We'll see how things go this season 😉

  • Mars SC Zone 8b Mars
    6 months ago

    In Himalayan Blackberry Thickets?! Those slug are though.....😳

    @gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) show us a picture of the slugs.

    I'm curious to see the size.

  • deanna in ME Barely zone 6a, more like 5b
    6 months ago

    I keep meaning to do ammonia, but I canNOT get the timing right. I have a hard time with many things that are termed "early spring" chores. Even "spring" chores. For example, pruning new growth on shrubs like summersweet--I'm always afraid to prune too early in case of a late cold snap, and then well before our last frost date leaves are budding out and I missed it. Same with ammonia. By the time I think it's OK to start, the slugs are already feasting. When the last frost date is mid-May, spring is difficult to wrap my head around.

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked deanna in ME Barely zone 6a, more like 5b
  • n2hostas (Kansas)
    6 months ago

    I am getting the ammonia out this weekend!!

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked n2hostas (Kansas)
  • beverlymnz4
    6 months ago

    Very entertaining read.


    I noted last year that you have to apply Sluggo often. "reapply the bait as consumed or at least every two weeks" - from their own site. I can't remember which garden guru I was watching, but he said "less is more." So I am going to try applying less - just a light sprinkling around my plants - but apply more often. I have a small suburban lot so I can do this. I was going to use the ammonia solution last fall but I couldn't find any in the store. There is a real shortage around here, probably due to the pandemic.


    As far as hosta being so last decade - well, I'm not a plant fashionista, I go with what I like not the trendy stuff.

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked beverlymnz4
  • MadPlanter1 zone 5
    6 months ago

    Last year I drenched each hosta with about a quart of 10% ammonia after they came up but before the leaves opened. The giants got more, the minis only a cup or so. There wasn't much slug damage, although the slugs might have been killed by the hard freeze in April instead of the drench. The results were good enough I'll do the ammonia drench again this year.


    You may have a hard time finding ammonia. No one seems to sell it any more.

  • oursteelers 8B PNW
    6 months ago

    I got my ammonia from Amazon in the fall if that helps anyone

  • snow (4/5)
    6 months ago

    One last pitch for natural predators

    I will say that here in Anchorage slugs, albeit not as large as in warmer, rainier climes such as yours, are a scourge on my strawberries, lettuce, lupine, many seedlings. I’ve used Sluggo to no effect.

    I’ve been pleased to see an increase in beetle population in recent summers, I don’t know why they showed up... I pick up a pot to stomp on the slugs and also see beetles skittering away, maybe I’ve spoiled their dinner.

    I see our wood frogs in spring and wonder how I can encourage those cuties.

    I also continue my practice of pouring diluted coffee on slug susceptible plants each morning during growing season and I really think it helps, my lupine bloomed beautifully last year

    Best,

    Rhonda


  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
    6 months ago

    I’m a big fan of natural predators. My tiny garden has plenty of birds, an occasional toad and a very small pond with a colony of frogs. But in temperate climes where slugs are active pretty much all year and snails for much of it, the problems are probably not comparable with Alaska.


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  • browneyedsusan_gw
    6 months ago

    I put a thin layer of sand around my hostas-it seems to keep slugs away. I think it works like eggshells -uncomfortable for slugs to 'walk' on. I must say, that unlike the revolting, giant slugs some of you have, I only see relatively small 1/2- 1 inch ones in my garden.

    Susan

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked browneyedsusan_gw
  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    In my experience, with the Gastropoda I get, neither eggshells nor sand has any effect.

    gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) thanked floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    I find slugs routinely creeping their way across the scratchy exposed aggregate concrete of my patio and walkway and even the rough gravel of my drive and parking pad. I can't see sand or eggshells being much of a deterrent compared to that!

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
    6 months ago

    And don’t forget the little ones that live in the soil. They’d just sneak in underneath any barrier. 🙁

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  • cercis47
    6 months ago

    Agreed! It is a 24-7 job! I love my hostas but will probably end up giving them away or planting them in pots. I have had a bit more luck with pots but some of my favorite hostas are too big for pots. that I can afford. I am going to try the ammonia drench this year as soon as this newest "drench" is over here in the Seattle area.

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  • snow (4/5)
    6 months ago

    floral, thanks for the response. You are correct, winter offers a much welcomed respite from slugs and pests of all sorts.

    I’m mostly a lurker, but the reason I joined in was that I hadn’t seen predator control mentioned in the discussion, so I just wanted to contribute that thought to the discussion.

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Snow just touched on this, but I have an incredible density of toads and frogs in my garden because there is a part of the yard that is wetlands and - to be environmentally responsible and because it's a great place to grow Zantedeschia aethiopica (SORRY!) - I haven't drained it. They are AWESOME at controlling slugs. Granted, I don't know if there's a toad big enough to control those scary giant PNW slugs. They also eat mosquitoes btw. During the growing season they hop up to my house and hang out by the porch lights. I could post some pictures of very, very fat toads.

    Amusingly where slugs can become a problem is is where I've used fencing to protect high value plants from squirrels or whatnot. In places where the toads are kept from access, slugs can attack things. Few comments about this: you can get better and cheaper copper tape for electronics hobbyists on amazon, than what is sold through gardening channels. I sometimes wrap it around the outside upper edge of pots. Another approach I have used was to buy a rather expensive roll of thick copper flashing. But I bought it well over 10 years ago, I think from a company called Storm Copper, and I haven't come close to using it up. Lifetime supply. it's 6 inches wide and I just use snips to cut a 1/2" strip off and wrap around the collar of the plant. Even after it oxidizes to a brownish green it still works and they last for years. Slugs are surprisingly crafty though, you have to be careful. If there is an adjacent branch of say, forsythia, that is unprotected, they will slime their way along that to avoid the copper! When my "collected in the coldest town in NZ" New Zealand flax was a baby, it was attacked this way. They don't seem to go after them once the leaves reach a certain thickness though.

  • n2hostas (Kansas)
    6 months ago

    I just finished a leaf clean up in Hosta Alley. Four bags full. Listened to Ken's Big Yellow Taxi. On the agenda for tomorrow to do an ammonia flood in a trouble section of Hosta Alley. I had a hard time last year finding ammonia when I wanted it but have a full gallon now. So that is 90-100 gallons of application.


    So what do you think the rate of application should be....


    You know it would be easier just to play Joanie singing Big Yellow Taxi and chilling with a cold beverage.


    ahh but the smell of spring dirt!!!