Dahlias are beautiful perennial bloomers that add colourful splendour to our gardens. Unfortunately, however, they are also susceptible to pests such as slugs. These little crawlies can destroy a dahlia's delicate petals and leaves in no time. Fortunately, if you don't want to use chemical pesticides, there are some natural ways to keep slugs away and keep your dahlias healthy. In this blog post, we will also look at other pests that might threaten your dahlias and explain how to keep them at bay naturally.
Keeping slugs away from dahlias effectively and naturally
There are several natural ways to keep slugs away from dahlias:
- Mulch: Place a layer of organic mulch such as bark mulch around the dahlias. Slugs do not like to crawl over dry ground as this causes them to lose mucus and their vital moisture.
- Beer trap: Slugs are magically attracted to beer. Bury a deep container, such as a glass or yoghurt pot, in the ground next to your dahlias and put a little beer in it. The snails will be magically attracted to the smell inside. Remember to empty the jar very regularly, because you will be surprised how well the trap works! Release the snails as far away from home as possible, because snails have a very good sense of direction and a reunion is otherwise guaranteed.
- Starting dahlias in pots: Snails love the fresh, tender leaves of growing dahlias. A dahlia that was started in advanced indoors will already have stronger leaves when planted outdoors and will therefore no longer be as susceptible and attractive to the hungry slugs.
- Set up a natural barrier: To prevent the slugs from getting to the dahlias in the first place, you can also use a slug fence. A snail fence can be purchased at a garden centre or building store and is shaped in a way that the animals cannot overcome it. Make sure that the fence does not come into contact with grass or flower petals, otherwise the slugs can use this as a climbing aid.
- Collecting snails by hand: (Naked) snails are nocturnal and can therefore best be collected in the evening. Again, make sure to release the snails at least 20 metres away from your house so that they lose their orientation.
Fighting ants and aphids with home remedies
Besides snails, ants and aphids are also a common problem in dahlia gardens. Fortunately, there are natural remedies for this too!
- Onion decoction: Onion decoction can deter both ants and aphids from infesting dahlias. Allow the mixture to cool and then sieve it through. Spray the affected areas about every 10 days. Tip: Instead of onions, you can also boil down garlic!
- Ladybirds: Ladybirds are natural enemies of aphids. Plant flowering plants such as marigolds or dill near dahlias to attract ladybirds to your garden.
- Neem oil: Neem oil is an organic solution for pest control. Mix neem oil with water and spray it on the dahlias. The oil acts as a deterrent for ants and aphids. Tip: Also add a little neem oil to the water, this strengthens the roots from the inside out.
- Copper wire: If you lay copper wire, the ants' scent trails will be disturbed, they will become confused and lose their orientation.
- Scented plants: Where there are aphids, there are always ants. The sweet substance secreted by aphids is a favourite food for ants. Again, plants with a strong scent deter aphids and ants. Think of lavender, sage, chives, rosemary, marigolds or basil. If these plants (which have a high ornamental value to boot) are planted in the beds, the plants around them will not be so easily attacked by aphids.
Home remedies are a good alternative
Protecting your dahlias naturally from pests takes a little effort but it is definitely possible. By using these natural methods, you can effectively keep slugs, ants, aphids and other pests away and keep your dahlias in full bloom. Just try it and be enchanted by their beauty without having to worry about their health or the environment!