Ask the Gardener: Slug-Proof Plants?

Posted by on June 8, 2012 at 7:16 am

by Carina Langstraat June 8, 2012 11:14 a.m.

Lucky for us, Carina has been sharing her landscape design expertise on Inside Bainbridge since last fall. Now you can ask her your garden/design questions in her new column Ask the Gardener. Carina’s and her husband Erik’s Landscape-Architecture Design firm Langstraat-Wood has been creating landscapes in the Seattle area for nearly 20 years. Their work is often featured in top garden publications, such as Better Homes & Gardens, Sunset Magazine, and Pacific Northwest Magazine.

European slugs are the worst offenders in the Pacific Northwest garden.

Dear Carina:

I’m tired of fighting slugs in my garden. Are there plants that are slug proof?

Thanks,

Roger

 

Hi Roger.

When it comes to plants and slugs, the operative word is “resistant.” Slugs will eat just about anything if they are hungry enough, but there are definitely plants they are drawn to: leafy garden vegetables and hostas are at the top of the list. They prefer new leaves, if you can protect your plants early on, they will have the strength once they are more developed to withstand some damage. Diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled around the base of the plant and acts as an irritant to a slug’s soft body. I like to use rock salt in my crushed gravel and wood chip paths because it organically kills slugs traveling from one bed to another. Its use should be restricted to driveways, paths, and fence lines given that it has a sterilizing effect on soil, but when used in moderation rock salt can be quite effective in helping control the slug population.

In general, herbs with a strong fragrance, like sage, lavender, and rosemary, repel slugs. Plants with hairy leaves and milky sap also are unappetizing to slugs. Here is a list of slug-resistant plants, separated into shade- and sun-loving groups:

Slug-Resistant Shade Plants

Astilbe.

Astilbe.

Epimedium
Deer fern (Blechnum spicant)
Lilly of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
Vancouveria
False Solomon’s Seal (Smilacena)
Carpet Bugle (Adjuga)
Oxalis (Oxalis oregano)
Anemone (Anemone japonica)
Astilbe
Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
Lewisia
Hellebore
Pulmonaria

Slug-Resistant Sun Plants

Black Eyed Susans.

Black Eyed Susans.

Agapanthus
Allium
Armeria
Bee Balm (Monarda)
Black Eyed Susan (Rudebeckia)
Euphorbia
Fox Glove (Digitalis)
Hardy Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica)
Day Lilly (Hemerocallis)
Geranium
Poppies (Papaver and Eschscholzia)
Ladies mantle (Alchemilla mollis)
Lychnis
Campanula
Cape Fuschia (Phygelius)
Coreposis
Iris
Lupine
Mint (Mentha)
Thyme (Thymus spp)
Verbena

If you remain steadfast in your love of hostas, many gardeners have reported that hostas with dimpled, cupped leaves that curve toward the ground are more difficult for a slug to grasp. Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ fits that description. So does Hosta ‘sieboldiana ‘Elegans,’ although to a lesser degree.

Happy gardening,

Carina

Send your gardening/landscape design questions to the expert at carina@insidebainbridge.com.

For more information about Carina Langstraat’s landscape-architecture design firm, Langstraat-Wood Inc., visit www.langstraatwood.com.

 

Photos by Linda Tanner, Pete S., and Frank Mayfield.

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