Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - May 23, 2007

From: austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Ravaged by snails
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Our Prickly Pear Cactus is being completely ravaged by snails. Is there something in my yard that could be attracting them? Is there something I can do to keep them off the plant? Also is is safe to cut the cactus all the way down since the whole thing is eaten? Thanks!

ANSWER:

The most attractive garden elements for snails and slugs are good hiding places. These creatures spend most of their time lurking in moist sheltered spots and do their hunting and feeding during nighttime hours. If you remove or otherwise make unsuitable the places snails like to hide, they will simply go elsewhere. Unfortunately, the structure and growth habit of prickly pears often provide good shelter for these slimey little mollusks.

There are several non-toxic (to humans and other vertebrates) control strategies that you might employ to kill or repel your garden snails. Here is a link to an excellent article from The University of California on snail and slug management. One of the copper-based strategies described in the article, along with removal of hiding places, will likely yield the best results for you.

You can cut your cactus to the ground. It is possible that it will resprout and grow assuming that the snails have first moved on elsewhere. In your area (Austin, TX), if it does not resprout from the stump, prickly pear is easily propagated by simply placing a pad into contact with the soil in the desired location. It will soon sprout and begin to grow and before long you will have a new plant and a source for nopalitos.

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Century plant leaves yellowing from Magnolia TX
July 04, 2013 - The leaves on my large Agave/Century plant are turning yellow. The bottom leaves, touching the ground are dying. Plant is 5.5" tall, 6" across & approx 10 yrs old. Recently we put red mulch around t...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Strawberry Hedgehog cactus from Temple TX
June 03, 2012 - I had purchased a Strawberry hedgehog Cactus (echinocereus stramineus) a few years ago from the Wildflower Center's annual plant sale and planted it then. It has now started to brown from bottom to t...
view the full question and answer

Agave americana/Century Plant care and life cycle.
June 10, 2009 - How often do century plants bloom? Do you have info on how to care for them?
view the full question and answer

Will a cut back yucca grow back in Lockbourne OH?
October 28, 2009 - I live in Ohio and recently I cut back all my plants to prepare for winter. I am wondering if my Yuccas will grow back. I cut them to ground level so only a little bit of the leaf is showing. I was...
view the full question and answer

Can non-native Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) be grown in Round Rock, Texas?
July 01, 2014 - Can the Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) be grown in the Round Rock Texas area or is this area too hot for it?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.