Garden cloches and bells are a good way to protect vulnerable plants against frost and harsh weather.
A positive side effect is that these kinds of bells and protective covers can also be used as a protection against snails and slugs.
The large garden cloches are more robust than lighter plant hats, which makes them a little more expensive.
All models have an opening at the top to allow heat to escape and fresh air to enter.
This entrance is difficult for slugs to find as they normally seek the direct route to their targeted plant.
How can you make a garden cloche yourself?
It’s not always necessary to buy expensive bells and cloches.
As an alternative to purchased models, you can cover young plants at night with an old jar, a bottle or a bucket.
This is often enough, and slugs can no longer reach young plants.
Only grey field slugs that are living in the soil could still be dangerous.
It’s also possible to use glass jars. Using a glass drill, bore small holes into the bottom of the jar or remove the bottom with a glass cutter.
Before drilling into the glass, it must be protected with masking tape.
You can then carefully drill several small holes, as shown in the video below.
Video: Drilling holes into glass
Old plastic and glass bottles can also be turned into garden bells if you remove the bottom.
Video: Removing the bottom of a glass bottle
The bigger the bottle, the better.
Large drinking cups or beer mugs can also be reused to protect small plants.
You’ll find more ideas here: homemade slug control.
Disadvantages of garden bells
The fundamental problem is that normally only one plant per bell can be protected.
So, depending on the number of plants that need protection, a lot of bells may be needed.
In addition, some bells are not 100% safe because they have an opening at the top, through which snails can get to the plant.
To be completely safe, the opening must be closed, for example with a mosquito net.
The protected plants must also be watered more often because they’re shielded from the rain. This results in a little extra work and effort.
In summer, when it gets hot during the day and the sun shines strongly on the garden, some plants can become too hot under their cover.
This means that the covers can be used only at night and should be removed during the daytime.
A major disadvantage is that field snails, which can move underground, can still reach the plant from below.
Some models are made of cheap material and are therefore fragile. They could even break as soon as they’re set up.
By paying attention to quality, cloches and bells can be used for several years.
Advantages of plant bells
Plant bells not only protect young plants from attacks by slugs and snails, but also from other dangers such as animals, wind, and weather.
In spring, higher temperatures in the interior create a pleasant microclimate for plants, which benefits their growth and development.
Particularly advantageous is the protection against frost, hail and excessive UV radiation.
The protection against slugs comes as a bonus, and with simple means such as a mosquito net, their protection can be improved even further.
In general, plant bells have the advantage of being easy to set up and handle.
By avoiding the cheapest models and by treating the products well, enjoyment is guaranteed for many years.
Endangered young plants can easily be protected with garden bells, especially in springtime.
This method has no negative side effects and is easy to use.
I therefore recommend using them to protect young vegetables and flowers against slugs and snails.
The bells work fine against most slugs and snails (e.g. the large red-brown Spanish slugs), but they can’t be used against the smaller grey field slugs.
One thing to consider – as with slug collars – is that each bell always protects only one plant or a small group of plants.
For a large garden with a lot of vegetable and flower beds, it’s therefore better to find a more extensive solution.
It’s also advisable to install a slug fence; this will protect plants in a larger area and throughout the year.
You’ll find more information here: Slug barriers.
Garden bells and protective covers, find prices and product overviews on Amazon.
Garden bell products
|Protective Plant Bell||Large Garden Cloches||Esschert Design Cloche|
|More info on Amazon||More info on Amazon||More info on Amazon|
Current offers for garden bells
Small garden bells, also called plant hats, usually come in packs of ten, costing around one to three dollars/pounds/euros. Some are a bit cheaper, others a little more expensive.
Popular is the so-called ‘sun hat – Romulus’. You’ll find prices and product information on Amazon.
If you’re in need of something bigger, a small portable greenhouse might be an option. You’ll find an overview on Amazon.
Another possibility is to use a so-called ‘greenhouse bucket’: You’ll find an overview on Amazon.
Garden bells come in many different varieties: You’ll find an overview on Amazon.
Plant cover products
|“Sunnyboy” Plant Protection Hood||Protective Plant Cover||Protective Sun Hat|
|More info on Amazon||More info on Amazon||More info on Amazon|
How to make plant protection covers slug-proof
The weak spot of the smaller plant hats is the opening at the top.
Most bigger and more expensive garden cloches have an opening that can be closed, but the cheaper hats normally lack this feature.
Their openings can be closed with a piece of fly screen, a mosquito net or similar materials.
This sort of seal adds a level of security to the protective covers.
The net could be attached from the inside or outside; for example, with suitable adhesive tape.
You can then be sure that neither slugs nor snails can find an access route.
An advantage of this method is that other pests, such as the cabbage white butterfly, can no longer reach the plants.
More tips and tricks
Simply put the plant hats or bells over the plants and anchor them with sticks or pegs in the ground.
The lower edge can also be covered with soil. This protects the bells from the wind and makes the small greenhouse secure for the plants.
With most garden cloches, you can open or close the top with a slider.
This means that the bell can remain open during the day, so that it won’t get too hot in the sun. In the evening, it can be closed again.
It also means that the air inside cools down slowly and nocturnal invaders can’t enter.
When using plant hats and bells, it’s always important to note that the plants don’t get rainwater naturally because the roots of young plants don’t yet reach far into the ground.
The plants should therefore be watered regularly.
Generally, the plants should be carefully monitored and observed at this stage.
Slug control recommendations
|Copper Mesh Fence||Slug Fence Set: Medium – 6m²||Sheep Wool Pellets|
|More info on Amazon||More info on Amazon (Europe)||More info on Amazon|
Last update: July 1, 2018
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