Slug home remedies put to the test in new RHS study

Thursday 7 June 2018

Egg shells, copper tape and other home remedies traditionally used by gardeners to deter slugs and snails will be put to the test in the first scientific experiment of its kind by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

After the wet and warm start to the year provided the perfect conditions for gastropods in gardens, the experiment will evidence the effectiveness of several control methods that are widely suggested anecdotally but lack more formal findings. The research announcement comes as the RHS and Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time open their plant health garden at this year’s RHS Chatsworth Flower Show (6-10 June).

Researchers at the charity will sow lettuce – a gastropod favourite - in a series of pots and raised beds which will be treated with alternate control methods. At the end of every week the leaves of each lettuce will be examined using a leaf area meter that will calculate the proportional damage and at the end of the experiment all of the lettuces will be harvested and weighed. Those with the least damage and greatest crop yield will have benefitted from the best deterrent.

The home remedies set to be tested by the RHS are:

• Copper tape (with serrated edge)
• Sharp horticultural grit
• Pine bark mulch
• Wool pellets
• Egg shells
• No treatment

Dr Hayley Jones, entomologist at the Royal Horticultural Society, said: “We know that some gardeners will swear by the success of their home remedies but until now there has been no formal study of their benefits, just a lot of, sometimes conflicting, anecdotes. This makes it hard for us to advise gardeners on their use with real confidence. With slugs and snails regularly topping the list of gardener complaints we want to know if home remedies have a role to play or are nothing more than a ‘plantsman’s placebo’.”

Slugs and snails will feature in the RHS and Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time garden at this year’s RHS Chatsworth Flower Show (6-10 June). The garden will highlight the importance of plant health with an interactive feature to equip the UK’s gardeners with the knowledge and expertise needed to plan and maintain a healthy garden.

Research findings will be published in the autumn. The project also compliments an ongoing study with BASF to determine the best combination of scientifically proven control methods to prevent slugs and snails.
For more information about slugs and snails in UK gardens visit


Notes to editors

About the RHS: The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

For more information please contact Laura Scruby in the RHS press office: / 0207 821 3060

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262