Dear Dahlia Doctor – I CAN’T Keep The Slugs Away!!

HELP! Dahlia Doctor!!

The slugs! They just keep coming and coming!! What do I do?! What can I do!

Slug War Soldier

Dear Slug War Soldier,

Those pests seem to keep coming back no matter what we do.

Here are some solutions that you can try:

  • Egg shells – break up some egg shells and spread them around your plants. Slugs don’t like sliding across them.
  • Chalk – grind it up and spread it around in a thick border. Not only will this give plants a calcium boost, but those slimy slugs won’t want to cross that line!
  • Beer – the standard beer trap works wonders. Get an empty can of tuna fish or cat food and fill it with beer; set it out in the evening. Let those stinkers know that the party is at your house this summer and then pick them out and toss them out in the morning. You can also share some beer with the flowers, I’m sure they’ll thank you, too!
  • Cups, Pringles cans, juice/milk jugs – cut the bottoms off to create 2-4″ tall cylinders and place them around your growing dahlias. The slugs will have a difficult time getting over that wall. Just be careful not to cut yourself when making these.
  • Have any leftover charcoal from that barbeque that you didn’t invite us to? Just sprinkle some of the charcoal dust from your briquettes around the area that you want to protect from those evil slugs and they will stay the heck away. You can toss a few briquettes into a bag and stomp on them or hammer away – whatever you need to do to get your frustration at the slugs out.
  • If those containers you made aren’t enough – meaning you have some sneaky slugs in your ‘hood – then wrap a piece of duct tape (sticky side out) around that container you have at the base of your plant. That will definitely keep those slugs out.
  • Finished with that newspaper yet? Ready to give up on that crossword? – If you roll up entire sections of newspaper (Our team didn’t win? Great! I mean, Better luck next time, Mariners. Use the Sports section! – it has to be thick) Stick a rubber band around the middle so it will keep its rolled-up shape – then dampen the entire roll and place near your dahlias in the evening. When morning comes, and you head out in your robe (no need for the neighbors to need to see your PJs with puppies and kittens on them, is there?) to get the morning paper so you can try at the next crossword, walk over to where you left the damp roll and pick up the entire thing and toss it into the garbage. Just be careful not to let any slugs and earwigs fall out. Yes, earwigs like damp newspaper, too – though they like crumpled up balls better.

Hope this gives you some ammo to use against those squishy, slimy, just-plain-icky foes!

- The Dahlia Doctor

Deer! Dahlia Doctor

Dear Dahlia Doctor,

HELP! I have deer running all over my property! They’re in my dahlias! Do you know of anything I can do to stop them from coming!?!

Undeer Siege


Dear Undeer Siege,

Those pesky deer get into everything, don’t they? I have some possibly solutions you can try on your property to see if it will help keep them away.

  • If you have any old shoes – the stinkier the better – toss them around the edge of your garden. Hopefully the smell of humans will keep them from approaching
  • Did you know deer don’t like to walk on Bubble Wrap?! They just won’t do it! Place some sheets of Bubble Wrap along the edges of your garden and use something heavy like rocks to weigh it down.

Hope that helps keep Bambi away!

- The Dahlia Doctor

Dear Dahlia Doctor, My Leaves Look Funny

Dear Dahlia Doctor,

My leaves are a really funny color… they also have holes in them. Do you have any ideas about what my problem could be? How do I fix it?



Unbe-leaf-able Colors

Dear Unbe-leaf-able,
The holes in the petals are caused by earwigs.  Thats why they come to visit.  To eat. You can use Sluggo to combat the earwigs, refer to the previous post about earwigs to learn more.

As for the leaves, it appears that you might have Red Spider Mites. They make their home on the underside of the leaf, where they puncture the plant’s cells in order to feed. If they build a colony, you will see a very fine webbing on your plants where they lay teeny-tiny eggs. It is possible for a single, mature female spider mite to lay over one million eggs in less than a month. If you can’t get your hands on a commercial-grade spray, a more natural way to go is to use Monterey Natural Mite & Insect Control, which is “effective against all stages of mites and pest insects” and “provides rapid knockdown and residual control of spider mites, whiteflies, aphids, scale, mealybugs, leafhoppers, caterpillars and many more.” There is also Mite-X Spider Mite Killer. One thing to note is that the miticides may not affect the eggs, so your would need to repeat the application of the spray every 10-14 days. Another product to try would be Vegol Year-Round Pesticidal Oil. You could also try Bang! which helps heal leaves that were damaged by spider mites.

Though we are nearing the end of the season, you could still give these a try.

- The Dahlia Doctor



Dear Dahlia Doctor, My Flowers Have Earwigs.

Dear Dahlia Doctor,

I have an earwig problem. What is/are some of the best solutions to preventing earwigs from eating dahlias?

An Earwig Inside Foxy Lady

An Earwig Inside Foxy Lady

Exasperated by Earwigs

Dear Exasperated,

For earwigs you can use Sluggo Plus*.  It’s fairly expensive, but you only use a little.
To use, you just sprinkle it on the ground around the base of the plant. Reapply as the bait is used up or the problem persists.

*A similar product is Sluggo, which is the variety that is safe for your pets to be around, but it doesn’t offer the same protection against earwigs, but is great for snails and slugs. If you are worried about the safety of your animals, you could also try Safety Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray, or Safety Brand Ant & Crawling Insect Killer.

Good luck in your battle against earwigs!
- The Dahlia Doctor