Growing your own potted herb plants is a great way to add color to any patio or garden, but be aware that snails love herbs almost as much as people do. Snails generally become a problem in summer shortly after rainy periods, and can slowly destroy herb plants if left unchecked. Of course, you could use slug pellets to help control snail problems, but those can be toxic and bad for your plants. So, if you're looking for some more eco-friendly and natural ways to help control snails, consider the following.
Eggshells - Brutal but Effective
Many experienced gardeners have been using eggshells for years to help get rid of slugs and snails. The skin on the underbelly of a snail is pretty resilient. Generally speaking, one or two small cuts to the underbelly won’t damage a snail too much. This is because the snail excretes protective mucus that quickly heals cuts. However, crushing eggshells and placing them in the pot around your herbs will result in numerous cuts on the underbelly of the snail. Too many cuts will result in dehydration and kill the snail. Just make sure that you rinse your eggshells and let them dry out before placing them in your pot.
Feed Snails Caffeine
Many people use coffee grounds with great success in killing snails and slugs. Caffeine in coffee causes all kinds of problems for the little cardiovascular system of a snail. Snails literally have heart attacks and die when they consume coffee grounds. Also, using coffee grounds around your potted herbs will act as very effective mulch as well.
Use Herbs to Protect Other Herbs
If you plant strong smelling herb plants like thyme or rosemary in pots and place them next to the herb you want to protect, you will find you have very few problems with slugs or snails. Snails are repelled by the odors that these types of plants produce, and will generally look for other types of foliage on which to munch.
Snails Don't Like Garlic
You can create a very simple garlic spray that will kill and repel snails as well. Simply soak half a cup of crushed garlic in half a cup of vegetable oil for about a week. Then, dilute the mixture with about 5 cups of water and a couple of teaspoons of liquid soap. Place it into a spray bottle and lightly mist your herb plants. You can wash your herbs before drying so that there is no hint of the garlic taste or smell. Also, this type of garlic spray is an effective fungicide that will help repel many other insects and pests as well.
Use Nontoxic Poison
Although poisoning insects around plants is usually not a good idea, there are some new types of iron phosphate-based poisons that have been determined to be very safe for animals and humans. However, they kill slugs and snails. These types of poisons also come in a pellet form and are water soluble. This means that they remain effective after rain or watering.