The delicate pop pom blooms of dahlias are beautiful and every gardener should try to have a few in their garden. but if you are growing them for the first time then you will want to know what pests you need to worry about, and when we think about pests in the UK then slugs are always top of the list. But do slugs attack dahlias? let’s have a look.
Do Slugs Like Dahlias?
Slugs will completely destroy young seedling dahlias and this is when you need to protect your plants the most. They can come along overnight and completely destroy your dahlias.
They will have a nibble on more established plants but they are usually in a strong position where they can just shrug off the damage.
Copper rings are one popular method for protecting flowers like Dahlias from slugs. if you are going to go down this route though you need to get quality copper rings. They need to be over 4cm wide and also have a high copper content, otherwise, they won’t do much and slugs will slide straight over them.
Be warned, these aren’t cheap!
If you can’t fork out for solid copper rings then there are much cheaper plastic ones that do the same thing but use a different method to stop slugs.
These plastic plant collars take advantage of the fact that slugs won’t crawl over a sharp bend, they just turn away and don’t attempt it. Well, that’s the theory anyway!
Another good way to help protect your Dahlias is to simply grow them in pots in an elevated position before planting them out when they are larger. This helps protect the fragile young plants and make sure they survive the seedling stage.
How to deal with slugs
The classic way to kill off slugs and it does work, there are however drawbacks.
Firstly the little blue pellets aren’t safe to have around if you have pets or young children who might digest them accidentally.
Next, there is the fact that they may be harmful to slugs’ natural predators like hedgehogs who eat slugs killed by pellets, therefore, ingesting the poison themselves.
And then there is the mess they leave, lots of dead slugs on the surface of your garden with nasty trails everywhere.
This is a natural and organic way to kill slugs. There are all kinds of nematodes, which are tiny little creatures that live in your soil, some of these nematodes kill slugs.
This is completely natural and is what happens in your soil all the time. By adding nematodes you are just increasing the number of the slug killing type.
One of the advantages of this method aside from the fact you don’t have to use poison is that part of the way the nematodes kill the slugs makes them burrow into the ground before dying, so no nasty dead slugs lying around!
Control slugs NATURALLY by applying Nemaslug Slug Killer, which contains natural nematodes, that are effective at controlling slugs, but unlike chemical controls, are safe for children, pets, birds and wildlife.
Torch & Bucket
The manual method, and as is often the case with the manual method, this is very effective but time-consuming. Wait until dark and go out into the garden with a torch, some gloves and a bucket and start collecting slugs.
This is best done on a damp night after heavy rain as then the slugs will be everywhere, happy hunting!
You can set up traps to capture slugs and then dispose of them how you wish. There are lots of different ways to do this but one of the more popular ones is a beer trap.
With a beer trap, you set a container, usually a plastic tub of some kind, level with the surface of the soil. You want it level with the surface so slugs can easily get into it but you want the bottom to be deep, so they can’t get out.
You then fill the bottom with some beer, which slugs adore, and leave it. The slugs will make their way into the trap and either drown or be waiting there come morning for you to get rid of them.
One downside to this apart from all the slug carcases you will be getting rid of is that the beer is so potent that it can apparently attract slugs up to 200 meters away and therefore bring even more slugs into your garden than were there before!