Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
If you garden in an area where you have to protect your tomato and pepper plants from cutworms, my husband has come up with a simple and free method. We buy our plants in 6 packs like the one in the photo. After removing the plants for planting, separate the sections, cut the bottom 1/2 inch or so off, Cut up the side on one corner, Slip this around the stem of your plant, and hold it in place by pushing a little soil against it. You can leave them in place for the season, or after the plant is well established, you may remove the collars.
By Harlean from Hot Springs, AR
My husband is an avid gardener, and has come up with a great use for those empty plastic gallon milk jugs. Cut the milk jug in half underneath the handle, and when you plant your new tomato plants, (or any other vegetable plants). Place the stem end through the spout opening in the milk jug and plant the opening in the ground.
The milk spout not only functions as a feeder by directing the flow of water to the roots of the plant, but it will also keep the cutworms off your plants, as they will not want to travel up the plastic.
Now you can use the bottom half of the milk jug by making some cuts in the bottom of the jug, filling the container with new potting soil, and start your seedlings out the right way, allowing proper drainage.
By Sandra from Floral City, FL
The best watermelon I ever ate, tasted more like ice cream than watermelon. Sadly, I never knew the name of it. Earlier this year, I ran across a particular watermelon seed, online. The melon was said to have a sherbet taste. Hoping it was the same, I ordered the seed. It's name is 'New Orchid'.
The seed arrived March 1. I planted them indoors. As soon as I felt they could safely be planted outside, I did. In a day or two, I noticed one seedling appeared to be damaged by a cutworm. I dismissed that notion as I thought it too early for cutworms. The temperatures were still quite cool.
A week later, I lost all my muskmelon seedlings to cutworms and the damage was clearly done by cutworms. My tip is to take precautions against cutworms no matter how early you set out seedlings. I covered the rest of my watermelon seedlings with inverted two liter soda bottles that had the tops cut away. It seems to be working. I'll have to replant the muskmelon seed.
The link is to an article with more detailed information on dealing with cutworms.
If you start your plants from seed as I do, or even buy them from the local nursery, when you plant them in the ground insert a toothpick or wooden match as close to the stem as possible...
Spreading crushed eggshells around your garden bed in the spring can help kill off cutworms. This is a guide about using egg shells for cutworms.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
When my father-in-law was alive and gardening, he used to put something around tomato plants and other plants to keep cutworms away. I cannot remember what it was. If anyone out there could help me remember, it would be greatly appreciated.
Could be either a newspaper strip and/or crushed eggshells. The narrow strip (perhaps 2"x2") of newspaper wrapped directly around the stem so that some of the newspaper is below and above ground when the tomato is planted will thwart cutworms because their body can't get a firm hold on the stem to squeeze and cut through it. I also add a pretty good sprinkling of cleaned crushed eggshell around the base of the plant in a consistent circle so that cutworms and then slugs can't get to the plant. Any ground-crawling invader with a soft underbelly can't navigate the sharpness of the egg shell. The egg shells are washed thoroughly with water (making sure to remove the membrane inside) and then air-dried upside down until absolutely dry and brittle. Then lightly crush and store in the freezer until ready to use in the garden. I do this with my eggshells all winter long so I have plenty to work with in the spring.
you may use dixie wax paper cups. Put the plant in
the cup and cut off the bottom.
My Father-in-law, 95 years old, has put out a garden for years. He puts popsicle or craft sticks on each side of the plant to keep the worms from getting into them. It works! Always beautiful tomatoes.
My parents always slid a nail down into the dirt right up next to the tomato plant stem. We do the same thing. Cutworms can't wrap themselves around and cut off the plant.
I've read that aluminum foil wrapped around the plant when planted at the base will prevent cutworms
We used ashes from the fireplace. It did the job. Good for radishes too.
I use 1 litre plastic milk cartons with the top and bottom cut off. This leaves a square bottomless container about 6 inches high, 12 of which fit neatly into a seed tray. Plant 2-3 seeds to each and remove the weakest as they grow. Allow the strong one to grow on until it is well advanced. When its about 4-5 inches high, dig a hole, slip your fingers under the base to pick up and then drop into the hole leaving 1-2 inches of the plastic below the surface. This method reduces transplant shock as there is very little root disturbance and the plastic forms a collar to keep out slugs, snails, etc. When the plant is well established the plastic collar can be removed, washed and reused.
I put about a 2-3" strip of newspaper around the stem of the tomato plant, at the soil level, half under the soil and half above.
I was always told to place a matchstick (or similar sized stick) against the trunk to prevent the worm from wrapping around the trunk, which apparently is necessary for them to cause damage.
My spinach is ready for harvesting, but most of it is cut from the stem by cutworms. How can I fight the cutworms?
By Damaris K
Not sure about cutworms but this works great on slugs. Just crush egg shells and put around the plant on the dirt. Works wonders!
I have cutworms coming out of my pavers. How do I get rid of them?
By Orestes from Pembroke Pines, FL
In order to keep them away form radishes etc. when planting the garden we put either wood ash or epsom salts in the row with the seeds. Really works.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
Can anyone help with my problem of cutworms? I have quite a large garden and am looking for a relatively cheap way to get rid of them.
If you have a problem with cutworms in your garden, spray the dirt around the plants with a mixture of 3 Tbsp. Dawn dish soap to 1 gallon of water. The soap solution gets into the cutworms system, and kills them immediately. It works great!
By Eleanor 02/01/2005)
Please tell me, what are cutworms? (02/02/2005)
Cutworms are 1" to 2" long gray caterpillars that live in the soil in the garden. They create problems for gardeners in that they eat (at night) the young plants at ground level, in May and June, usually totally chewing off the stem leaving a plant that is toppled over. We dig around the wilted plant and usually a few inches away find the cutworm, all big and fat (squishing it is the next thing to do for the gardener). The cutworm life cycle...a grey/whitish night flying moth later in summer.
Some years we have problems, some years we don't really see many. But I would rather, here in Manitoba, Canada have cutworms than a lot of the bugs that exist down south....poisonous spiders, poisonous snakes and termites. Our COLD winters would kill most of those pests. The cutworm just hibernates and emerges in the spring to help himself again to my garden. (02/02/2005)
Another solution for cutworms is to just insert, next to the stem of the seedlings, a wooden matchstick or a wooden toothpick. If the seedling has a wide girth, then 2 toothpicks on either side work. I've used this for years and even had this hint published in a book. I always carry a toothpick container out to the garden in the spring. (02/03/2005)
By Roberta in Maine
When you plant the seedlings, tomatoes, etc., wrap the stem with pieces of newspapers, partly below and partly above the ground. By the time the plants have established and the cutworms are gone, the paper decomposes and has saved the plants. (06/15/2005)
We use wood ashes saved from the fireplace and bonfires. (06/16/2005)
You can also use popsicle sticks, placed next to and touching the new plants, or carefully wrap several layers of newspaper (take about a 6 inch square and fold in half twice). Wrap gently around the plant stem, so it's about 1/2 above ground and 1/2 half under ground. Keeps the cut worms from circling and cutting the plant. (06/16/2005)
I use foam cups to keep the worms at bay. I tear out the bottom, slip the top of the cup over the plant and then put the cup and plant in the ground. You only need an inch of the cup in the dirt so adjust to fit. I have used this for 20 years and it still works! (07/07/2005)
I find the best way to get rid of cutworms is to save all your egg shells throughout the winter. Leave in your freezer over the winter. When planting your plants, crush the egg shells and sprinkle the crushed egg shells around the plants just below the surface. What happens? Crawling over the egg shells will cause the cutworms to dehydrate and die. (04/08/2006)
I have heard that inserting a 10-penny nail beside the plant will work just as good as the popsicle stick. If you don't have a long enough nail - cut up wire (like a coat hanger). Leave a little above ground. (05/07/2007)
I have cutworms in my garden, and it is NO laughing/fun matter. I have to struggle every day to keep my plants alive.
One thing is that using pest killers and pesticides kill some cutworms. Just spray before the blossoms and fruits come, or you will have a fruit like the queen's apple in Snow White.
I plant seedlings inside a toilet roll cardboard insert, which I have cut in half across the middle. I plant the seedling inside, leaving a bit above the ground. By the time the plant is too big to be munched, the toilet roll holder has dissolved. Works a treat! (07/16/2008)
By Cathy from Townsville, QLD
I never had cutworms until I moved a few years ago. A friend told me to use Epsom Salts around all my bulb plants as they began to emerge from the soil and several times through the early spring. I don't know if it has killed them but they are leaving my tulips, etc. alone now. The Epsom Salt is really good for my rose bush and seems to "green up" everything too. (01/24/2009)