How to get rid of snails on potted plants.

How to Get Rid of Snails in Potted Plants (Fast and Easy)

So, you have snails in your potted plants. And you need to get rid of them.

In this complete article, you’ll learn:

  • Why snails are eating your potted plants
  • Natural ways to get rid of snails in your planters
  • How to keep snails out of your flower pots
  • And more

By the end of this page, you’ll have a solid foundation to protect your potted plants from snails.

If you have questions, post a comment below.

Feel free to bookmark this page for easy reference.

Sound good? Let’s go.

Are snails bad for potted plants?

Snail in flower planter.
Snails will eat potted plants without care.

Yes, snails are able to destroy a plant seemingly rapidly by eating up the soft and tender leaves.

They especially prefer newly sprouted leaflets but will eat just about any plant foliage- whether veggies, herbs, or decorative plants.

They have a nonstop appetite that will pierce holes through your leaves and jagged edges around your greens.

Snails can also just get about anywhere with their sticky foot that lets them crawl into potted plants with ease and then start to eat up the plant overnight.

Plants that are potted are difficult to control snails because the pot makes a good hiding place.

If you’re dealing with plants that have a lot of low-hanging foliage, snails will grab any leaf close to the planter and start eating its path through the plant.

Busy planters are prime targets, but snails will just about eat any plant in a flowerpot.

But I heard snails were good for flower pots?

Snail crawling on a pile of logs.

Snails can definitely be beneficial to your plants, whether they’re in a plant container or not.

Snails don’t do a lot of damage as long as you can keep them under control.

They’re very skilled at climbing all the way up to flowering plants to consume their buds. But just having a few of them here and there can help eat up rotting plants and leaves.

This can help prevent more bugs from coming into your yard and eating up the dead plants. Snails also eat various bacteria and fungus as well as plant leaves that are already damaged.

They’re a critical part of the ecosystem in your yard. Having a few of them proves to be beneficial.

But having a lot can be a problem. It’s all about balance and maintaining homeostasis. Remember your biology class?

Will snails kill my plants?

Snails can kill your plants if you ignore them.

They rapidly multiply and can lay eggs in the hundreds very quickly. If ignored, they’ll hatch and you’ll have a ton of baby snails eating up your plant.

They can quickly destroy plants in a few weeks and this is why you need to act quickly to save your plants.

It doesn’t matter if the plant is potted or not- all leafy greens that are thin without aroma or natural defenses are susceptible to slug and snail damage.

Are hanging flower pots safe for snails?

Hanging planter protect plants from snails.
Planters that are hanging are safer from snails and other pests.

Hanging or upside-down planters are definitely safer from snails than ones on the floor.

However, snails can climb their way to just about anywhere, so no plant is completely safe.

Hanging a planter does make it a lot more difficult for snails to reach, so this is advisable if you want to keep snails out of your planter.

How do I keep snails out of my potted plants?

You can protect your potted plants from snails.
You can protect your potted plants from snails with these tips.

There are many different techniques you can do at home to get rid of snails naturally and keep them out of your planters.

Here are a few of the most popular ones.

Try a few of them out and see what works best for you.

Use a combination of the DIY home remedies here for a powerful deterrent against these gastropods.

Note: These methods also help protect your potted plants against slugs. Anything that’s effective against snails is usually effective against slugs.

Use salt

Everyone knows what happens after a snail comes into contact with table salt.

You can spread salt around the perimeter of the plant to keep them away from your potted plants. Use the salt on the rim of the container so they need to cross it to get to your plants.

This also makes it harder to spot the salt if you use dark soil and want to hide the salt. Reapply the salt after rain or wind.

Salt is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get rid of snails.

Can vinegar kill snails?

Vinegar kills snails due to the high acidity.

You can make a vinegar spray and spray it on snails in your planters. Note that this will kill them, but vinegar has little residual effect.

This means you have to reapply it over and over again because it evaporates and loses acidity.

Vinegar is more for active handling of snails whereas the other methods are passive (which is perfect so you can kill snails while you sleep).

Remove snail trails

Snails will trace other snails’ paths.

You can remove the snail slime using vinegar and water in equal parts and spraying it.

Or you can use any household cleaner. Alcohol-based solvents work very well against snail slime.

Don’t leave the slim there because it’ll attract other snails to the same plant.

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is an effective powder to use against snails because the coarse nature of it cuts them up and dehydrates them.

It’s also safe for humans, pets, and plants.

Even though it’s safe, you should still wash your hands after using it.

Sprinkle the DE around the base of the plant, in the soil, or in the plant container.


You can use regular play sand and make a moat around the potted plant to safeguard it from snails.

If you want to hide the sand, you get a raised planter or plant stand and then apply the same under it.

Or right at the base of the container directly against the rim.


Cinder will scratch up snails just like many of the other methods listed here.

If you have a cinder, apply it in a circular pattern around the planter.

You can also use sawdust as another alternative to cinder for snail control.

Use copper in your flower pots

Snails are sensitive to copper which is lethal to them.

Copper is a popular homemade snail killer. This element naturally repels snails because they recognize that it’s dangerous to them, so you can use this to stop them from entering your plant containers.

You can buy copper rings at most hardware stores or greenies and place them in a circle around the perimeter of your planter. Make sure that you build a barrier of copper so that any snail who crawls across has to touch the copper.

Think of a moat or fence that you’re building with the copper ring. There’s also copper tape that you can buy which is easy to apply.

Just wrap it around the planter in a circle a few times so that any snail has to crawl across the tape to get to the plant. This will naturally stop snails from getting through into your potted plants.

Use eggshells

Snails avoid eggshells just like humans because it’s painful to crawl on.

As they have a sensitive underside (foot), they avoid anything that’s rough or scratchy.

You can crush eggshells and sprinkle the shells around the planter.

You can either do this directly inside the planter or make a perimeter of eggshells on the floor in a circle around the planter. This will force the snail to crawl on the crushed eggshells which will kill it by the abrasive texture.

They’re extremely sensitive and can’t handle cuts. Because the eggshells are sharp, they’ll become dehydrated as they get various cuts from the shells.

There are many ways to use eggshells for snail control:

  • Apply it in a ring around the plant stem
  • Use it around the container
  • Build a moat of eggshells around the soil in the planter.
  • Put some shells all over the soil and planter randomly (like landmines)

Get creative. There are a bunch of techniques you can use.

Eggshells are cheap and are a perfect way to recycle something you’d throw in the trash.

Who’d have thought it would use them for snail control?

Use wire sponges

Just like eggshells, those spinny metal sponges are like miniature wire fences for snails.

You can place a few of them around the base of the stem.

This means they have to touch, crawl, or otherwise come into contact with the wire. Use old sponges or just buy an economy pack of clean sponges.

They’re cheap and you can get them from most dollar stores.

Apply sandpaper around the potted plant

Sandpaper is the ultimate scratcher for snails.

Buy the coarsest sandpaper you can afford at a hardware store and bring it home and place your planter directly on top of it.

This means that your planter will be surrounded by sandpaper on all sides.

And the only way a snail can even come close to the plant is to crawl over the paper. This is a sure way to keep snails of your planter permanently.

Pretty cool, huh?

Make a beer trap

Use a shallow bowl and fill it up with cheap beer.

Then place the bowl right into your planter. Just leave it there for one night. The next day, there should be a few snails in there. Collect them and dispose of them.

You can repeat this until all the snails are gone.

They’ll be attracted to the beer rather than your plant, thus protecting your plant from snail attacks. You can use this as a homemade snail killer.

Make a small grapefruit bait trap

You can cut a small grapefruit up and remove the flesh.

Save half of the rind and turn it upside down outdoors in your planter. It should look like a small “tent” for the snails to crawl into.

You may have to remove a piece so they can crawl and enter the small hut you made for them.

Snails can’t avoid eating the rind, so they’ll climb into it and stay in there.

Allow the snails to accumulate and then remove the rind and dispose of it. You can spray the snails with vinegar to kill them before tossing it out.

Rub petroleum jelly

Use a thin layer of petroleum jelly around the rim of your flower container.

This will make the snails slip off as they can’t get a grip. An easy and fast way to keep snails out of your planters.

Set up natural barriers

You can use various objects to build barriers that deter snails.

Think stones, rocks, pebbles, and other things you can place that blocks snails.

They don’t like crawling over the various obstacles in their path as it takes energy.

So you can place a few rocks here and a few stones there to make it very difficult to get to the goods (your plants).

This can help make your yard look pretty and keep snails out at the same time.

Use coffee

Coffee grounds have long been a hotly debated topic in garden forums for their ability to repel slugs and snails. Some say they swear by it. Others claim it doesn’t really work.

Whatever the case, you can definitely still try it. It doesn’t hurt, right? Especially if you already have used coffee grounds that you’d be throwing out anyway.

Take the coffee leftovers you don’t need anymore and just toss them into your potted plants- directly into the soil. The scent and caffeine help repel mollusks, at least that’s what people say.

Avoid using mulch

Plants with mulch such as tree bark or shredded bark attract more snails.

Replace your mulch or use something else as a substrate that doesn’t have so many hiding places.

Use something that’s thinner, smaller, and doesn’t create natural crevices for snails to crawl through.

Use snail repellent plants

There are a few plants that naturally repel snails.

Some of the most popular ones are scented ones with strong aromas like garlic, chives, onions, parsley, cilantro, or rosemary.

People with veggie or herb gardens can plant these and they should fit right with the rest of your foliage.

But if you’re not growing veggies or herbs, you can still use other plants like Japanese anemone, lambs ear, and even various ferns. All of these are snail resistant.

Plant them with your vulnerable plants and they may offer a barrier to stop snails. Use plants together for the best effect.

You can check out this list of plants that snails and slugs hate. Plants helping plants. That’s the stuff.

Use Epsom salt

Just like table salt, Epsom salt can help dry out snails and kill them. This is safer than regular salt and also adds some magnesium to your plants.

You can use it in the same fashion as regular salt by sprinkling some around your planter or in the soil.

Epsom Salt is slightly more expensive, so you can use regular table salt if you want to save cash on your snail treatment.

But if you already have some, you should use it since it’s safer for your plants. They’ll definitely appreciate the kindness.

This is an effective way to stop snails from eating your potted plants and keep them out.

Attract snail eaters

Your container plants can use some help from natural predators that eat snails.

Since they have that hard shell, there really aren’t that many smaller pests that are able to eat them.

However, reptiles and amphibians are known to feast on snails even if they have a shell. There are also specific birds and rodents that both eat snails.

You need to do some research and see what predators are native to your area that already live in your yard. Then find out how to attract more of them.

For example, you could attract lizards by providing plenty of hiding places and a water source. If you already have lizards in your yard, setting up a place to hide (rocks, tiles, woodpiles, etc.) can help bring additional lizards.

Then these lizards will eat the snails and help reduce the population.

Since they’re natural hunters, they can climb into flower pots and look for snails. You basically have an army working for you 24/7. For free.

And it’s completely natural. How nice is that?

Spray neem oil

Neem oil kills snails on contact.

You can buy this oil at specialty stores and just add a few drops to a spray bottle. Fill the rest with some water.

Then spray the neem oil on the snails and it’ll kill them.

Neem oil also has a lasting effect, so you can spray the stuff on your containers and pots to keep them out. Reapply every other week.

This is an easy way to get rid of snails on your planters naturally. Neem oil also works against caterpillars, no see ums, and even thrips.

Use soapy water

Get a small pot and put 18 drops of liquid dish detergent and 2 cups of water.

You just made a powerful snail pesticide that’ll kill them upon contact. Spray the solution onto any snails you come across and you’ll kill them immediately.

Manual removal

The most natural method that doesn’t require you to spend anything!

Just put on a pair of garden gloves and grab a flashlight. Go out at night and pick off any snails you see on your potted plants.

You should also check your other plants to grab any snails from there. They can migrate to your planters. because of their climbing ability.

This method requires you to go out at night because snails are most active after sunset.

You can pick them off by hand and toss them into a bucket to soapy water. Then dip them after you’re done.

While this requires work, repeat the process for 2 weeks and notice the reduction in snail population.

Be sure to check all sides of plant leaves, such as under the leaf and within flowering buds.

How do I keep snails off my potted plants?

Snail outdoors.
You can protect your planters by using the techniques outlined on this page.

There are so many methods to keep snails off your plants that it’ll take all day to list them all.

You can use a combination of many of the techniques listed here.

For starters, use a rough and coarse substrate that you can place around your planters. Make a ring of sand, sandpaper, diatomaceous earth, eggshells, cinder, or any other pokey material.

You’re building a barrier to keep them away because they’ll avoid crawling over any coarse substance.

This will make it hard for snails to get to your plants.

After that, place another ring around the stem of the plat in the actual container. This means adding some to the soil and circumference of the flower pot.

You can also use a DIY snail killer like vinegar to spray them when you come across one.

And lastly, use manual removal to pick them off to reduce their numbers.

If you don’t want to work so much to keep the snails off, commander attracting natural predators to your yard that eat snails.

All of this is covered in earlier sections. Refer to them for specifics on how to do each part.

How do I keep snails out of my flower pots?

You can start with a hanging planter if possible.

If you haven’t planted yet or you have a small planter, you can transplant the plant to a hanging planter.

These are just planters that hang from rafters, awnings, or stakes and are relatively cheap.

This will eliminate a huge amount of potential garden pests that normally have easy access to your potted plants.

If hanging planters aren’t an option, then you should start with the basics covered on this page.

How do I remove snail eggs?

Snail eggs.
Snail eggs are easy to spot. Just prune them off or remove the stem/leaf.

If you notice snail eggs, you should remove the leaf (or entire branch) with the eggs right away.

They’ll hatch into baby snails and they’ll continue to feed on your plant in huge numbers.

Snail eggs are easy to recognize as they’re deposited by adult females in clusters on the underside of leaves, stems, and branches.

They range in color but are usually bright pink, orange, clear, yellow, blue, or green.

Also, check plant stems that are relatively hidden from the sun. you can prune the eggs off the leaf or just remove it entirely.

This is fast because you’re basically getting rid of dozens of snails rather than a single snail. Make this into a habit every time you check your garden or water your plants.

How to make homemade snail killer

Use the various methods outlined above to make your own homemade snail killer.

You can use neem oil, vinegar, salt, Epsom salt, or set up a beer trap.

All of these are effective snail killers that you can make for cheap and very easily. You should have most of the materials already just lying around the home.

How to dispose of snails

If you manually remove snails or spray them with a DIY snail killer, you’ll want to remove them from the plant.

If you don’t, they’ll attract other bugs that come to eat them.

You can pick them up and toss them into a bucket filled with soapy water to kill them.

After a few minutes, pour the snails into a garbage bag and drain out the excess water to prevent any scent.

Then dispose of the bag of snails into your regular garbage receptacle outdoors.

How to I remove snail eggs?

If you notice snail eggs, you should remove the leaf (or entire branch) with the eggs right away.

They’ll hatch into baby snails and they’ll continue to feed on your plant in huge numbers.

Snail eggs are easy to recognize as they’re deposited by adult females in clusters on the underside of leaves.

Also, check plant stems that are relatively hidden from the sun. you can prune the eggs off the leaf or just remove it entirely.

This is fast because you’re basically getting rid of dozens of snails rather than a single snail. Make this into a habit every time you check your garden or water your plants.

Further reading

Here are some more resources you can check out that you may find helpful:

Did you finally get rid of the snails?

You have the details you need to go out and protect your plants from snails.

It takes patience and time to fully eradicate the population since they breed so quickly.

But that’s okay. You’ll do it for your plants!

If you have questions, post a comment and ask!

Or if you have any hints or tips to share with fellow readers, leave them in a comment and let us know!

If you found this page helpful, consider telling a friend =]!

Thanks for reading!

4 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Snails in Potted Plants (Fast and Easy)”

  1. Hey! I tried all these possible methods. But still can’t get rid of them. Trust me the situation is so bad I can’t plant seeds anymore. Do you have any other option?

    1. Likewise. Have tried everything. Using salt is killing my newly sprouted seedlings and not using any is leading to damage by snails. Help

  2. I’d like to thank you for the efforts yoս’ve put in penning this site.
    I really hope to view the same high-grade bⅼog posts by you later
    on as well.

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