So, you want to get some plants that repel slugs and snails.
- Plants that are naturally attractive to slugs and snails
- Common problem plants that slugs and snails eat
- Herbs that slugs hate
- Slug-resistant veggies
- And more
By the end of this page, you’ll have a good understanding of what you can plant that mollusks don’t like.
So get your notepad and pen and let’s get started.
This list contains a bunch of plants you can use to replant your garden and keep these mollusks out.
Sound good? Let’s get your garden slug-proof!
Why are slugs and snails eating my plants?
Slugs and snails tend to eat the same plants, as they’re extremely similar in diet and what plants they eat.
They’re both gastropods that feed on new leaflets that are just spouting off stems and branches. They especially prefer leaves that are easy to chew on, thin, soft, and delicate.
This is why some plants are prone to attracting a ton of slugs and snails and getting eaten and destroyed by them.
Slugs eat both perennial and annual plants. They don’t seem to care about flower color, design, or anything of that nature.
They just want the newly grown leaves that are thin so they can quickly devour them.
What does slug and snail damage look like?
The easiest way to tell if a slug is eating your plants is to look for common signs of damage:
- Holes in your leaves
- Eaten, jagged, edges of leaves
- Irregularly shaped plates
- Damaged or missing leaflets
- Trails of slug slime
Slugs and snails may be small, but they can quickly become destructive to newly sprouting plants and leaves.
This is why you should either get rid of slugs quickly or purchase plants that are resistant to slugs.
We’ll cover a few of the most popular plant choices that are resilient to slug damage in this list.
Note that although they may completely repel or minimize the chances of slug attacks, no plant is completely safe.
There may be curious snails or slugs that take a bite or two, even if your plant is labeled “snail resistant” or “slug resistant.”
The plants here are noted for their ability to:
- Repel or deter slugs and snails
- Minimize damage
- Keep them away by fragrance, odor, or aroma
- Stop them by sharp thorns, spines, or difficult to climb stems
Let’s check out the plants. See which ones are native to your area and fit in your USDA hardiness zone.
Some require more care than others. I’d suggest choosing one based on its appearance, then check if it fits your zone.
1. Fern plants
Ferns are easy to care for an extremely low-maintenance plant that snails and slugs hate.
This is partly due to their tough, thick leaves that are hard to digest for these pests. Ferns can be grown in partial sunlight with well-draining soil.
And the best part is that there are so many different types of ferns you can mix and match that you’re sure to find a combo that fits your yard. The most popular ferns are staghorn ferns, sword ferns, tree ferns, maidenhair ferns, royal ferns, cinnamon ferns, and holly ferns.
They all have slug and snail repellent properties that make them extremely unattractive to these garden pests. You can pick out a few and plant them outdoors for a plant that naturally deters snails and slugs and is relatively maintenance-free.
Hydrangeas are a mesmerizing plant that comes in some unique colors.
They can be used as a deterrent that naturally repels snails and slugs. Because they bloom with gorgeous pink, white, and blue flowers, they can easily “blend in” to your yard and match your other plants.
These flowers are moderate in terms of care- they need partial sun with calm winds to shield seedlings.
They also require soft, loose, and very well-draining soil to grow quickly. I’d suggest buying them matured rather than starting from seed, as raising the young seedlings can take some work.
Buying a grown plant can save you time as you just need to choose a site and transplant it. Avoid east-facing locations to minimize wind damage.
Hydrangeas can also modify their flower color based on soil nutrients.
So if you’re not just looking for a plant that repels slugs and snails, but also something that you can work on as a garden project, these will do.
There are many different cross-bred colors that you can work with. Or you can just stick with a traditional one.
Either way, these make an excellent plant that can help you set up a natural barrier to keep slugs and snails out.
Euphorbias are not as popular as the other plants on this list, but they make a very effective barrier against slugs.
Because of the bitter sap they contain, this taste makes eating the plant a chore. Slugs will avoid euphorbias and search for something else they can consume. But if your entire yard contains plants that slugs hate, then they have no choice but to leave your yard!
These plants are hardy and can stand low temperatures and are low-maintenance. They also have a unique appearance with their lush green coloration and tiny flowers. Snails have also been reported to not eat euphorbia because of the same bitter taste.
As you can probably imagine, the taste is something they absolutely hate. But for you? You get a hardy plant that lasts through cold temperatures and naturally gets rid of both snails and slugs- without having you to do anything extra.
4. Lavender (Lavandula)
Lavender plants are a popular choice because of their ability to naturally repel many different garden pests.
This plant has been shown to repel a host of common pests like wasps and bees, and mollusks are not different. The scented oils are used to make lavender oil which is pleasant to humans.
However, for snails, this scent is nothing but something to avoid. The plant is easily propagated and can be tended to fill an entire field.
Of course, you probably don’t want to fill up your entire backyard with lavender. But it just goes to show how easy it is to grow this plant on your own.
You can set up a “fence” of lavender around the perimeter of your yard to keep snails out. The plant does best in direct sun with well-draining soil. They can also be potted for easy transportation. Consider growing them in pots because then you can move them around to where the gastropods are.
For example, if you have a snail problem in a specific area in your garden, you can move the potted lavender to that area in seconds. Think strategically!
These are colorful plants that are mainly shrubs and trees.
For those who need a slug hardy plant that can also be used as a hedge or privacy plant, you can consider fuschia as low-hanging foliage.
There are many different strains and they can bloom some pretty amazing colors. Slugs will avoid this plant and don’t seem to be attracted to the blooms.
6. Geraniums (Pelargonium)
These hardy and hairy plants have a defensive barrier on their leaves which slugs can’t digest.
The pokey surface on the stems can also make it difficult for both slugs and snails to crawl over, which can help keep them away. Geraniums come in a huge assortment of varieties, so you’re sure to find something that suits your garden.
They’re very easy to care for and extremely low-maintenance. Pair that with the benefit of hardiness and you have a plant that’s a brick wall against pests.
7. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)
Another fragrant plant, rosemary acts as a natural deterrent to slugs and snails.
You can plant a rosemary bush and use the fragrance to keep the mollusks away from your yard. The nice part about this plant is that it can be harvested to make a repellent spray for snails and slugs.
You can harvest rosemary flowers and mix them with water to extract some of the fragrance. Then you can spray this directly onto the pests, or around the yard as a snail repellent plant.
The scent is appealing for most people, but the gastropods hate it. Consider growing this plant if you live in hardiness zones 9 or higher for the best effect. The blue-lavender flowers emit a strong smell that pests will avoid.
8. Japanese anemone (Anemone hupehensis)
These are probably the slightly more difficult plants to care for on this list, but it does have pest-repelling properties, so I thought I’d include it.
These anemones are hard to propagate because they’re extremely fragile and easy to break. If you decide to repot the plant later, you have to be extremely careful.
But once you have an established anemone, they propagate and are quite a pleasure to look at with their colorful leaves. If you’re an experienced green thumb, you may want to consider adding this plant to your garden to keep the mollusks out.
Snails don’t seem to be attracted to this plant and they’re very colorful.
9. Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium caeruleum)
Polemonium is a slug-resistant plant that slugs and snails avoid.
The stem is shaped in a very difficult to crawl pattern, which may be the reason why they’re not able to feed on the precious leaves. The plant has leaves that are shaped into small “steps” like a ladder, hence the name.
This is another good choice as it’s resilient to snails and slugs. The flower and huge amount of greenage pose an attractive walkway plant.
Jacob’s ladder thieves in zones 3-8.
10. Catmint (Nepeta)
You probably already know by now that slugs and snails avoid plants with strong fragrances.
Catmint is another one to add to the list.
Nepeta spp. has a very strong odor that dissuades slugs from eating them. Catmint can be huge, so consider getting a variety that’s easy to maintain.
They can quickly cover your garden if the conditions are right. Consider using it for ground cover in bare areas to keep slugs out. The Six Hills Giant variety is a larger species that are perfect for this purpose.
11. Columbine (Aquilegia)
Columbines are colorful and sport giant flowers that are quite stunning.
They have the “flower within a flower” appearance and are not attractive to slugs compared to many other fine-leaf plants, like hostas.
This plant does attract some leaf-minders though.
However, if your goal is none other than to choose plants that minimize slug damage, add Aquilegia to your list.
12. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Slugs will avoid wormwood just because it’s not an attractive plant to them.
This low-hanging outdoor plant is compact and can be harvested for its fragrant leaves for DIY projects.
They have an extremely strong scent. And just like other plants with aroma, slugs tend to shy away from. Silver Mound wormwood and Powis Castle are two popular slug-resistant strains that you should check out.
13. Snapdragons (Antirrhinum)
These colorful and tall plants make a nice and striking addition to any garden.
They’re a popular plant with blooming flowers that work their way up the stalk for extended bloom periods.
And they’re also resilient to slugs, which makes this plant a hardy choice for any garden. These resistant plants are native to various areas of the US, EU, and North Africa.
Snapdragons require full sun and take about 100 days from seed to flower, depending on conditions. They were actually selected as the 2019 Annual by the National Garden Bureau.
These plants are quickly becoming a popular choice once again, as they’re old-fashioned plants that kind of faded away in recent times. Consider bringing retro back and keeping the slugs out with snapdragons.
Yucca plants have needle-like leaves that slugs avoid.
Whether it’s the high amount of fiber content that makes yucca hard to digest for pests or the thorny leaves, slugs can’t fathom crawling over this plant.
Some species like Adam’s Needle tend to be extremely pointy by nature, so this makes an attractive centerpiece for your garden and doesn’t attract slugs. The plant also has a nasty taste, which is why yucca is commonly used for slug repellents sold in stores.
You can actually make your own slug repellent by using yucca at home.
15. Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis)
This waxy rose proves to be a hardy plant for both slugs and temperature.
And if you really don’t want to deal with constantly giving your plants TLC, Helleborus orientalis is a plant that requires low-maintenance and has a nice appearance.
For those who just desire a garden that looks pretty but aren’t green thumbs or know little about gardening, consider Lenten rose as a quick solution.
You can grow Lenten rose in hardiness zones 4-10.
16. Tree peony
This one has mixed reports from gardeners but tends to have fewer slugs compared to other plants.
Tree peony seedlings can be eaten by slugs, but once it matures, it’s generally resistant and resilient to them.
Slugs tend to avoid this plant which you can benefit from. The flowers are large and have a district appearance with their bloom patterns and spiraling nature.
17. Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina)
Stachys byzantina are resistant to snails and slugs because of their thorny edge around the leaves.
These sharp spines will cut up a slug’s underside (AKA “foot”), so they know to avoid crawling all over it.
These unique plants have a very distinct texture that’s harmless to humans but painful to slugs. If you want a truly unique plant that’ll naturally repel slugs, check out Lamb’s ears.
The green spiny leaves and furry leaflets are just made for “petting.” If you ask any experienced gardener, they’ll tell you all about this plant.
18. Begonias (Begoniaceae)
These pretty flowers are over 1800 species in number, so there’s definitely no limit to the “perfectly” designed begonia for your yard.
They’re native to moist, tropical climates and can be grown indoors.
They’re perfect for beginners and quickly fill gaps and crevices, which makes them a decent fit for snails that crawl on your garden fence or between rocks, tiles, or on the soil.
Begonias naturally resist snails and slugs and are resilient to their damage, as long as it’s minimal.
For small mollusk problems, begonias are a nice fit.
Even if they get eaten, they can quickly replenish the damaged foliage rapidly. The point of this plant is that it can grow faster than the snails can eat it, so that’s why people choose begonias.
Of course, this depends on your environments such as temperature, soil conditions, nutrients, and feeding regimen for your plant.
And how persistent the number of snails you have.
But they’re available in nurseries for cheap, so consider picking up a dozen or so and spreading them out in your garden. They make a nice flower bed and will cover your soil to keep snails at bay.
You can grow these plants in hardiness zones all over the US.
19. Holly leaves
Hollies are popularized by Christmas hollies with a dark green leaf and sharp edges.
The female species produce those berries you often see on wreaths made by creative minds. The leaves from holly plants are reported to repel snails because of the natural poison they contain.
They also have sharp spines on the edges, which snails can’t crawl over. And even if they do, poison the plant contains will harm the snails.
This poison is actually harmful to humans and pets and can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other related problems.
Because of these effects, snails know better than to eat this plant. If you have any of the 480 species of holly plants available, consider placing a few of them around the yard.
You can also just use the leaves and place them on the soil to kill and repel snails. Be sure to use the proper protective equipment when handling holly plants.
Holly plants are hard to grow, but you can buy them quite easily online.
What plants do slugs eat?
They eat any plant that’s not aromatic and has thin leaves. They especially prefer newly sprouted leaflets on easy to reach plants that are close to the soil.
They eat herbs, vegetables, plant decor, ornaments, shrubs, bushes, and any other foliage. They aren’t picky and consume just about anything they can crawl on.
Here are some common plants that readers ask about.
Do slugs eat mint?
Mint is an aromatic herb that naturally repels slugs. Other similar plants like rosemary and thyme also have the same effect. If you plan to plant mint, you don’t need to worry about mint as most varieties of it are safe.
You may have slugs taking a nibble here and there, but they should quickly be repelled by the strong scent and taste of mint. Mint is safe to plant as it’s resilient against gastropods.
Do slugs eat petunias?
Yes, slugs eat petunias because of their thin leaves and ease of access. Petunias are susceptible to slug damage. You should be careful because this plant has literally no defense against mollusks.
And there are many other similar plants that have just as much color on this list that you can consider.
Do snails eat aloe vera plants?
Not likely. Snails don’t seem to be particularly attracted to aloe vera as it has thick leaves that are packed with fiber, which makes it unattractive to snails because they can’t digest it.
Do slugs eat lobelia?
Lobelia is a delicious meal for slugs who chew at its stem bottoms. This plant is not resistant to slugs and snails and will attract gastropods with its thin stems that contain nutritious plant foliage for them to gobble up.
Do slugs eat salvias?
Yes, snails and slugs both eat saliva because of the soft leaves that it sprouts. This makes an easy target for their next meal. Their leaves and tender nature of the plant only attract pests to feast on it. Avoid if you have a garden prone to caterpillars, loopers, or garden aphids.
Do slugs eat foxgloves?
Slugs avoid foxgloves due to the coppery flowers. Gastropods can’t handle any copper as it’s extremely toxic to them. And foxgloves have both coppery blooms and spikes lined along the flower make it a hard pass for these pests.
Slug resistant vegetables
If you want to grow veggies, there are many to choose from that are naturally safe from slugs.
The most popular choices are asparagus, artichokes, onions, leeks, chives, chard, celery, beetroot, radish, spinach, peas, potatoes, garlic, cucumbers, chicory, lettuce, sugarloaf, and tomatoes. All of these veggies make excellent slug deterrents and this variety should be enough to keep food on your table!
Slug resistant herbs
There are also quite a few herbs for you to choose from that don’t attract snails. Feel free to plant borage, chamomile, comfrey, mint, rue, rosemary, thyme, valerian, parsley, lavender, hyssop, horsetail, savory, and even wild garlic.
Slugs and snails will avoid these herbs and leave them alone so you can harvest all of it for yourself. There are more out there, but these are a decent place to get started on your herb garden. Snail free!
Here are some resources and references you may find helpful:
- DIY Slug Bait – TheArtOfDoingStuff
- USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
- Outwit your slugs: choose the plants they hate – TheGuardian
Did you find the perfect slug-proof plant?
You should now have a nice starting point for your new garden!
All of these plants on the list should have some snail and slug repelling properties to keep them away from your yard. See which ones grow natively in your area or check the USDA hardiness zones to see what you can plant.
If you have any others to suggest, post a comment and I’ll add it to the list.
Or if you found this article useful, let me know! Tell a friend!
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.