Trouble Growing Marigolds

Question:

I CANNOT grow marigolds. I plant them and go out the next morning, the little leaves are stripped off the stems, and the marigold bud is all that is left on the stem - no leaves. What is doing this?

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Hardiness Zone: 6a

Peggy from Springboro, OH

Answer:

Hi Peggy,

It sounds to me like slugs or snails have an appetite for your marigolds. They attack at night, usually eating the lower leaves first. The next day, you wake up to holey flowers and ragged leaves, or worse, nothing but a row of stems and a silvery-gray trail of slime on the ground where they have glided up to your plants.

The good news is that there are several easy and economical ways to effectively control the damage caused by slugs and snails.

Handpicking: This isn't the most appealing method, but it works. To spot them, grab a flashlight and head out to your marigold patch for a snail safari about an hour after sunset.

Setting traps: Snails and slugs love cool, moist places-especially to lay their eggs-so use this information to your advantage. Flip over some old flowerpots on the ground around the garden. Leave one side propped up just slightly to act as an entrance. Half an intact grapefruit or orange rind (minus the fruit) will work well, too. Check these traps daily and discard any snails and slugs you find hiding there.

Snails and slugs like beer. I've used this method myself after snails and slugs discovered some of my hostas, and I can verify that it works. Place a shallow container like a saucer or even a cut down yogurt container into the ground so that the top is at soil level. Fill the container with about an inch of stale beer (there's no need to waste the good stuff). Slugs and snails will stop by for a cold one, crawl into the container and die a happy death. Check traps daily and refill as needed.

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Constructing Barriers: Slugs and snails avoid crawling over sharp surfaces. Create a physical barrier next to the base of your plants with crushed eggshells, dichotomous earth, wood ash, or coarse grade saw dust.

Snails and slugs will also avoid crawling over copper because it gives them a slight electric shock. Construct barriers from copper pipes or strips available at local hardware stores.

Cleaning up debris: Snails and slugs love to take refuge under garden debris from the hot afternoon sun. Clean up leaves, old boards, rocks, and old pots to reduce daytime hiding places, and avoid using mulch more than 3 inches deep.

Watering during the day: Because snails and slugs love a moist, humid environment, water your plants in the morning to allow time for leaves and stems to dry before nightfall.

Good luck!

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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February 28, 20080 found this helpful

Slugs! Slugs are eating your marigolds at night. It is a very well-known problem. I remember when I was growing up, my mother used to make little moats/trenches around her marigold beds. Then she filled the trenches with beer. This is a very common solution for the slug problem, even though it sounds crazy. I found an explanation for you that might explain it better than I can. Go to: http://www.advancingwomen.com/landscaping/42925.php

Good Luck!

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February 29, 20080 found this helpful

The other possibility is pill bugs and/or sow bugs since I have caught them happily eating my marigolds.

http://insected.arizona.edu/isoinfo.htm

http://www.pestcontrolcanada.com/INSECTS/pill_bugs_sow_bugs.htm

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March 5, 20080 found this helpful

If it is slugs, I have also read on this web site that crushed egg shells will stop them.

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March 6, 20080 found this helpful

This is slugs, snails or cut worms. Sow or pill bugs ar decomposers - they only eat dead material. Put a strip of copper wire to keep slugs/snails out - but this can be expensive. There are good (and fairly non toxic products like Sluggo that can help). For Cut worms, try putting a little paper "collar" around your seedlings. Time consuming, but it works. Cut worms are an inch long grub (larva) of a large moth that lays eggs into the ground.

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March 7, 20080 found this helpful

You could put little paper cups on top of your seedlings at night. I have actually used the clear plastic cups as miniature green houses for growing from seed.

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March 7, 20080 found this helpful

IVE ALSO HEARD IF YYOU WATER YOUR PLANTS LATER IN THE DAY IT WILL CAUSE THE SLUGS TO BE WORSE.BEST TIME TO WATER PLANTS IS IN THE MIDDLE OF MORN BEFORE IT GETS TO HOT.

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