Snail and cannabis
3 min

Cannabis Pests: Dealing With Slugs and Snails

3 min

With so many factors involved in growing cannabis, combating slugs and snails can sometimes be at the bottom of the agenda. Given enough time though these everyday garden visitors can cause irreparable damage to you plants. Knowing how to deter them can be essential in keeping your weed intact.

The act of growing cannabis is not too dissimilar to spinning twenty plates in two hands. Various aspects of the grow, like temperature and light, need constant attention to keep them spinning. There are however various other aspects that only require action when the signs appear. And what signs might we be looking for? In this case, it is the dreaded mark of slugs and snails.

Slugs and snails won't be leaving a slime trail marking out the words “we were here” but there are some telltale signs that will alert you to their presence. This is especially important considering they like to attack your plants AND buds at night. Before that wave of panic sets in and sleepless nights become the mainstay of your next cannabis grow, we have some top tips on how to fight back.


Luckily, spotting these slimy critters is a fairly straightforward affair. The first sign to look out for is that trademark slime trail. This silvery slime trail will appear on the ground around your plants and across the leaves they have decided to munch on. Another sign to look out for is “scalloped edges”. Slugs and snails both take bites one at a time, leaving quite a distinctive marking. It can be easy to confuse this leaf damage with caterpillars as they have a similar approach to destroying your plants. Just remember, as painful as it may be to imagine, single bites at a time creating a scalloped edge. Finally, it is not a relentless all year round assault, typically slugs and snails tend to appear in spring attacking mainly at night. Just be aware that if you don't take steps to prevent or remove them, they will be back!


Slugs snails cannabis and chervil

In most growing environments it can be incredibly difficult to completely eradicate the threat of slugs and snails. There are, however, a number of things you can do to protect your beloved plants and reduce the risk of excessive damage. Physical barriers present the single best defense. Using plastic bottles cut in half around each of your plants is a great form of protection. A less controllable method is using mother nature to fight back. If your growing environment is outside, physical barriers can be a lot more difficult to construct. Instead, allow toads, frogs, and beetles to stay in your garden. They eat these pesky critters and will help control their numbers. Lastly, sprinkling circles of lime, eggshells, sawdust or salt around your plants can also help to deter these slimy assassins. Just be aware of the effects these substances may have on the pH of your soil.


Slug and beer

A bold statement, but one that can prove incredibly helpful in combating slugs and snails. They also love the taste of beer. Use a cheap beer, though - we don't want to add insult to injury by giving the pests that are eating your cannabis plants and drinking your good beer. The idea is to submerge the cans around your grow area so that the top lip of the can is level with the soil. They will be drawn to the cans and in an effort to enjoy themselves will fall into the can. Death by beer doesn't sound like a terrible way to go. Be warned, though, the cans will fill up quick so you will need to check and replace them on a regular basis.


The concept of companion planting is one, that has been used by keen gardeners throughout the ages. Certain combinations of plants can have beneficial effects when grown next to each other. Conveniently for cannabis growers this also extends to our tall, dark and danky herbs. There are a number of plants, that can be used to help fight back against slugs and snails. Slugs are not a fan of strongly scented plants and as such careful positioning of these types of plants can help divert them away from main attraction, your buds!

Given that strong aromas act as a deterrent to slugs and snails, this can make most plants from the herb family a suitable companion to your cannabis plants. Whilst most will help, there are a collective few, that provide optimal defense. Basil, fennel, rosemary, and chervil are all good options in this respect. Chervil can be particularly useful, as it likes to grow in the shade, whilst the strong anise taste is off-putting for slugs and snails. The only watch out with all these companions is, that they don't overshadow your cannabis plants by taking valuable light or nutrients. Placing them on the north side of your growing area with regular pruning will help keep them in check. Finally, there are several rumors, that suggest plants like basil can improve the flavor of weed. It is often used in conventional gardening to improve the flavor of tomatoes. Now we stress this is only speculation, but as the basil plant is not doing any harm it is an option worth experimenting with.

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter
With a BSc (Hons) degree in Clinical Health Sciences and a passion for growing plants, Luke Sumpter has worked as a professional journalist and writer at the intersection of cannabis and science for the past 7 years.
Growing Seedshop
Search in categories