Plants that naturally repel slugs and snails

a nail moving on a green leaf
WRITTEN BY Erin Reilly

If you’ve ever planted a summer’s worth of lettuce then woken up one morning to find mass garden destruction, you’re not alone. Whether you’re a first-time gardener or a planting aficionado, there are few things worse in the gardening world than the effects of hungry slugs and snails. So how you can minimise the impact of these slimy nasties? Forget bait, salt buckets and hit-and-miss old wives’ tales; Zones gardeners have some planting tips and tricks to help prevent your garden from succumbing to the effects of a slimy invasion in the first place.

Aromatic herbs

First things first, head down the path of aromatic plants, Herbs like mint, sage, thyme, basil, parsley and rosemary are great repellents because slugs and snails don’t like strong scents. The beauty of herbs is that they can be planted just about anywhere in the garden, either in strategically-placed pots or straight into the ground. Pop basil, rosemary or other aromatic herb next to just about any other plant to help naturally safeguard the rest of your garden.

Tussock grasses

Snails hate dry stuff. Grasses and tussock are great slug and snail repellent options because of their dry and spindly nature. Use them to create a low border around more vulnerable plants to prevent those slimy irritants from getting at their favourite foods and keep your garden looking lush and vibrant at any time of the year.

Strongly-scented flowers

If you want to add a pop of colour to your beds while naturally preventing damage caused by slimy pests, strongly-scented flowers are great options too. Lavender, peonies, roses, geraniums … anything that has a strong scent will not only keep your garden smelling delightful, they’ll also help keep slugs and snails at bay.

pink peony bush in a garden

Avoid flax

Contrary to popular belief, flax is not a great snail and slug repellent. “Being a gardener, when I cut flax bushes out of other people’s gardens I always find a lot of snails hidden inside,” says Zones Landscaper. “Although snails and slugs don’t eat flax bushes, they certainly aren’t repelled by them either, because the heart of a flax bush is quite moist and warm.” So while flax bushes might offer them a great escape from the elements, at some point those snails are going to get hungry … which means just one thing: they’ll have to leave their hideaway so they can feast on something else in your garden.

Fleshy greens are a no-go too

Just like a good hearty salad is the stuff vegetarians’ dreams are made of, slugs and snails are avid herbivores too. That means if you plant anything that’s large, green and leafy, chances are it could be attacked by these slimy soldiers. Lettuce, kale, cabbage, spinach and broccoli are particular favourites (they’re not only delicious, they also offer shelter from the heat of the day), so think about reserving these for the supermarket trolley.

Borders & companion planting

If you can’t stomach the thought of banishing your favourite greens from your garden, companion planting is your next best bet. Use any of the above plants to create a preventative barrier around more vulnerable plants, especially in your vegetable garden.

Other natural remedies

For gardeners who want to keep snails and slugs at bay but don’t want to compromise on the aesthetics of their garden, Zones Landscapers recommend other natural remedies. “Chop up some mint, on the kitchen bench or in the blender, and lay it along the edge of the garden. Visually it won’t look out of place, and snails and slugs won’t even attempt to get across it.”

“Seaweed is a great option too,” he continues. “Gather some when you’re next at the beach, run it through the lawnmower a few times, and lay it along the edge of your garden. Snails and slugs hate the smell, plus seaweed is really good for the garden.”

You might also be interested in: Plants that keep pesky mosquitoes at bay

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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