Slugs can will eat camellia leaves, flower buds and petals if they are able to reach them. Any branches or stems touching the ground are easy for slugs to access and eat. Slugs will usually start to eat leaves from the edges inwards which is similar to snails and caterpillars. Get up early, before the sun comes out to see if you can catch slugs on the leaves.
Slugs will venture out from the organic material under the tree to chew on fresh leaves and flowers. This article will explore how you can tell if slugs are eating your camellias and how to keep them off your plants naturally.
How to know if slugs are eating your camellias
Slugs can eat camelia leaves and flowers if they are able to crawl up and reach the new leaves. Slugs feed on decaying organic matter and help to increase the break down process in compost and mulch. Slugs can look to fresh sources of food including new leaves on camellias.
1. Look for bight marks on the edges
Slugs will usually start to eat the edges of leaves first. They are biting bugs that find it easier to chew from the edges inwards. They often start with the new leaves because they are softer. Leaves can keep growing even if they have small bite marks.
Often a few bites can be taken out of the leaves as they grow, which the leaf can recover from. While the bites won’t repair completely, the leaves can stay green and grow larger.
Healthy camellia plants will replace damaged leaves with new ones if they are given the food and water they need.
2. Head outside early in the morning or late at night
To find out if slugs are eating your camelias, head out early in the morning before the sun comes out or late at night when it is dark. Use a torch to see small or large slugs crawling on the leaves and flowers.
Bite marks are similar for slugs, caterpillars and slugs. The only way to know for sure is to catch the slugs in the act.
3. Check the mulch for slugs
Another way to find out if slugs are attacking your camellias is to use a small spade and to dig through eh mulch under the plant. Slugs hideout during the daylight hours to avoid being eaten by birds and lizards.
Digging through the top 1 inch of mulch is usually all that is needed to find them. They can be small and a similar color to the mulch so can be tricky to see.
Note: avoid touching slugs with your hands, they can carry a range of bacteria which can be harmful if ingested.
4. Check nearby plants for bite marks
Another great way to find out if slugs are eating your camelias is to check nearby plant for slug bites. Slug populations can grow quickly when the weather is wet and you can often see bite marks on other plants. Slugs ate almost all of my viola flowers overnight which were planted right near my camellia.
5. Set a beer trap to catch them
Find a shallow saucer and set it up under your camellia. Fill it with ½ an inch of beer to attract the slugs and catch them overnight. Check the sauce in the morning to see what has crawled in. This beer trap will also catch snails which might also be eating your camellias.
How to stop slugs from eating camellias
Here are a few easy and natural ways to stop slugs from eating your camelias. The best way to keep them away is to use gentle, natural methods that will not harm the other insects or animals that might eat the slugs after.
1. Trim camellia branches so they are off the ground
To help to prevent slugs from crawling up onto your camelia plant is to trim the lower branches so they are not touching the ground. Slugs will find it easy to access and crawl up the branches to reach the other leaves.
2. Sprinkle coffee grounds around the base
Coffee grounds are a great way to stop slugs from climbing up your camellia bush to chew on the leaves. Used coffee grounds sprinkled a few inches around the base of the plant will help to deter slugs. They hate crawling through coffee grounds so will avoid the area.
3. Add broken egg shells around the base of your plant
Broken egg shells are a great way to naturally keep slugs off of your camellia plants. Crushing up egg shells and sprinkling it around the base of the trunk will help to prevent the slugs from reaching the leaves. The sharp egg shells are uncomfortable for slugs to crawl over and they tend to avoid the area.
Combine egg shells and coffee grounds to make the perfect slug deterrent for your camellia plants.
4. Set a beer trap
Beer traps are simple ways to capture the slugs that are in your garden. The slugs love the smell of the yeast and will venture out to feed. Fill a shallow saucer with beer and leave it near your camellias overnight. The next morning you will see if any slugs have taken the bait and crawled into the beer.
Do Slugs Eat Camellias? | Summary
Slugs will eat camellia leaves, flower buds and petals. They tend to attack smaller, younger leaves first but they can recover if the tree is healthy. You can trim these damaged leaves off with sharp secateurs or leave them on and they will keep growing. The only trace of the slugs will be a few bite marks on the leaves from their nighttime feast.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.