January 2018

Slugs do like their beer

Crushed egg shells control slugs around hostas and other plants. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

A lot of people think they have to snip off the flowers on bedding plants and other annuals before planting them.

Not so, says Diane Blazek of the National Garden Bureau, a not-for-profit organization that promotes gardening.

“In many cases pinching is no longer an absolute must because today’s commonly available bedding plants are bred to be more compact with continuous blooms,” she says.

One myth I’ve never heard of is that adding sugar to the planting hole will sweeten tomatoes. Tomato plants can’t absorb sugar in the soil, but makes it own through photosynthesis. “The sugar content of a variety is determined in the plant’s genetics,” Blazek says.

Here are some slug control practices or myths that do work:

Control slugs with crushed egg shells. Slugs do not like to crawl across jagged edges, so place egg shells around hostas or other plants bothered by slugs.

Another tip is to keep mulch away from the base of plants that are bothered by slugs. Keeping the mulch away reduces a slug’s hiding place.

Beer also is a good way to control slugs. Place tuna cans or other shallow dishes filled with beer at ground level. The slugs are attracted to the beer, so they crawl into the cans and drown.

Research shows slugs prefer lighter beers over darker ales and lager, Blazek says. The traps also will have to be replenished after a rain, since slugs have a taste for undiluted, full-bodied beer.

If you buy slug control product at a garden center, be sure to get one that is safe around children and pets. Sluggo is one brand.

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