Little green spheres in mulch?

OopeyJune 16, 2014

I recently found what look like tiny green spheres all throughout the mulch I have in front of our house. I have broken a few open, and sometimes they are filled with white stuff that appears to have the consistency of farmer's cheese; sometimes they are filled with jelly-type stuff; sometimes they are just very hard and I cannot easily break them open. Does anyone know what they are? I have included a picture of them, with a penny in the image for size-references. I am located in suburbs near New York City, if that helps. Also, the mulch is from last year and have not yet had a chance to put down new mulch. Depending on what these things are, then possibly relatedly: I have two boxwoods in this mulch - one is 90% brown/dead, the other is starting to turn brown and is now probably about 10% brown. Not sure if its related and/or might help "diagnose" what these things are. Thanks for any information anyone has. - See more at:

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Fertilizer balls -is that possible? I can't see them clearly. It looks like your camera focused on the penny.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 12:08PM
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Sorry, I tried several photos and this one came out the clearest - not sure how to stop focusing on the penny.

Anyway, I suppose it could be fertilizer balls, but I haven't fertilized in several weeks, and I only just noticed them. In NJ, all of last week was pretty much rain all the time, so not sure if that has something to do with it? I also only see them in the mulch and not on the lawn (we hire a lawn company to fertilize, and I only pay them to fertilize the lawn, so I doubt they would do the shrubs (?)).

Also about the same time I noticed them, I noticed that our boxwood turned from nice green to horrible yellow in only a day or two's worth of time. Also also, we appear to have a grub problem, albeit about 30-40 feet away on a different part of the lawn - not sure if it could be related? Maybe whatever animal is digging up the grubs is also digging near the boxwood and killing it, having nothing to do with these little green spheres?

Its amazing how much I know I don't know, and even more amazing how much I don't know I don't know!

Thanks for any additional info you (or anyone else) may have.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 12:24PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

if not fert..

then see link ..

go hunting at night.. and see if you can find the all in one mom/dad ...

regardless... until you find damage.. we usually do go after things in the soil ... unless you are sure of the ID ...

if slugs.. 10% vinegar or ammonia.. should shrivel them up ... kill mom too.. on contact though ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 12:48PM
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Pretty sure it's a 'timed release' fertilizer: this is encapsulated in these little, water-resistant spheres so it doesn't burn the lawn. And, yeah, it's most likely spread by the lawn guys being none-too-careful with the spreader. Wide setting, do it quicker, move on to the next job....

Some potting soils have them already mixed in. I've even 'recycled' potting soil into the garden from potted plants that have died over the winter and found these little spheres intact.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 3:18PM
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Hmm, thanks for the info all. They really do look like the slug eggs in the link from ken_adrian, so I wonder if its that. In order to kill them, do I just spray some vinegar or ammonia? Won't that kill my bushes?

Also, could slugs have killed my boxwood, one of which is shown in the attached picture? I'll post the second one in a moment, to show that its starting to be killed.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 3:50PM
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And the picture of the boxwood starting to die (just to the right of that pink-flowering plant next to the dying boxwood):

Thanks for any and all info, everyone.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 3:51PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the boxwood are planted about 4 feet too close to the house.. and i would give up the first for dead... i wouldnt have the patience to mess with it for a few years to see if it recovered ... winter reflected sun.. may have been an issue ... besides cold ...

i dont know how you aim a sprayer at a slug.. and cover a bush ... i have never tried spraying anything but hosta with such ...

there are slug FAQ's in this forum.. and the hosta forum ...


    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 4:03PM
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Interesting. That's where our nursery (one thats highly respected in our area) told us to plant them. But, the two that are closer to the house as in the pictures are dying whereas the four that are not close to the foundation (not pictured) are doing fine.

Thanks for all the info.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 4:07PM
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How new is the house...or more importantly, the foundation? New(er) foundations leach hydroxides from the mortar, concrete, blocks or cementitious parging - and young boxwoods are particularly susceptible to this. That's why the ones farther away - Ken mentioned four feet - might be fine.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 4:25PM
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The foundation is from the mid 1950s. I'm not sure if that counts as new(er) or not.

(Also, I'm still not sure if those green things are slug eggs are time release fertilizer; if slug eggs, could they kill a boxwood by eating roots or something?)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 4:38PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Do slugs lay green eggs?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 5:32PM
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No, but if they are fertilizer, it could be a mix of fertilizer/selective herbicide/insecticide. I've got a bag of something similar - even though I'm all organic (the daughter had it and was going to 'dispose' of it; I took it to do it correctly....) It has multi-colored shperes throughout. As mentioned above, boxwoods are remarkably susceptible to chemical damage. Salt (from walks and driveways) or pH imbalance are two biggies. Errant or misapplied lawn chemicals are another. Fertilizers are often 'prilled' - formed into little spheres - for ease of transfer and application

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 11:40PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

They really don't look like slug eggs. And that's not what the eggs feel like, either. It really looks like SRF.....which comes in green, by the way.

Slugs don't do that kind of damage nor feed on roots. I sure wouldn't spray ammonia or vinegar on the plant.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 11:59PM
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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

ditto what rhizo_1 says....

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 6:56AM
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