Slug-Proof Plants

If you have an abundance of slugs and snails in your garden and your favourite delphiniums are disappearing overnight, next time you’re visiting your favourite nursery or garden centre, stock up on plants that are less appealing to slugs and snails.

Hosta 'Sum and Substance' as seen here on the Gold Medal Winning Brookfield Plants display at RHS Chelsea Flower 2015
Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ seen here on the Gold Medal Winning, Brookfield Plants display at RHS Chelsea Flower 2015

Hostas are often thought of as the number one dining choice for slugs and snails, but this isn’t the case for every Hosta. Varieties of Hosta that have thicker, puckered, rugose, wrinkled leaves, or varieties with a waxy coating to their leaves – often seen on blue coloured types, are far less attractive to slugs and snails and this offers the plant some resilience and protection. Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ grows to 0.75cm (about 30 inches) tall and 1.2m (about 47 inches) wide – it’s a huge Hosta! Its attractive heart shaped, chartreuse coloured leaves are glossy and corrugated, they turn more golden as the season progresses.  H. ‘Sum and Substance’ is a tough and versatile Hosta that offers good resilience to slugs and snails; it thrives, even in a sunny spot, as with most Hostas, preferring morning sun to afternoon sun.

Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears' is a sweet little Hosta that offers good resistance to slugs and snails
Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is a sweet little Hosta that offers good resistance to slugs and snails – I’ve never seen it with any damage from slugs or snails!

You can find slug resilient Hostas in all sizes, the diminutive Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is a dear little plant with thick, rounded, glaucous blue coloured leaves, shaped like mouse ears. It prefers light to full shade and grows to just 10cm (about 4 inches) tall, forming a symmetrical clump. Hosta ‘First Frost’ starts the season with glaucous blue leaves with yellow margins, as the season progresses, the leaf margins or edges pale to white. H. ‘First Frost’ grows to about 40cm (16 inches) tall.

Hosta ‘Devon Green’ - I took this photo at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015, where I photographed this beautiful Hosta on the Bowden Hostas stand.
I love Hosta ‘Devon Green’. I took this photo at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015, on the Bowden Hostas stand in the Floral Marquee.

There are many other Hostas with resilience to slugs and snails including H. ‘Spilt Milk’, H. ‘Devon Green’ H. ‘Halcyon’ and H. ‘June’. All of the Hostas I’ve mentioned here have received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit; hopefully if you like them, you can find them at your local nursery or garden centre.

Hosta ‘June’ as seen on Bowden Hostas stand at The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015.
Hosta ‘June’ as seen on Bowden Hostas stand at The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015.

Roses aren’t troubled by slugs and snails, although they do suffer with other pests and diseases. Naturally robust, healthy roses, such as Rosa ‘Crocus Rose’, bred by David Austin, are an absolute delight to grow. I’ve grown this reliable, strong and healthy rose in many different soils and situations, from Scotland to Surrey, often neglecting it terribly, it has always thrived. Rosa ‘Crocus Rose’ has a light and delicate tea rose fragrance; it flowers freely, the pale apricot coloured flowers fade to cream as they age. It’s a charming rose that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. Rosa ‘Wild Edric’ is another exceptionally healthy rose, with a strong, beautiful old rose fragrance; it makes a fabulously scented hedge.

Rosa 'Crocus Rose' bred by David Austin Roses, is a healthy and beautiful rose
Rosa ‘Crocus Rose’ bred by David Austin Roses, is a healthy and beautiful rose

I love the gentle, sugar coated tones of Japanese anemones, their flowers add a warming glow and gentle softness to the garden as summer fades away. Look out for the beautiful white flowered Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ and the rose-pink flowered Anemone x hybrida ‘Königin Charlotte’, (pictured at the top of the page), both of which have been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit; I’ve never seen them with any slug or snail damage.

Ferns are an absolute must have for anyone concerned about slugs or snails in their garden, as they are incredibly resilient. Don’t forget Digitalis, Astrantia, Aquilegia, Lamprocapnos, Alliums, Hellebores, Cyclamen, Heuchera, Knautia macedonica and Verbascum, as these are beautiful plants that aren’t usually on the menu for either slugs or snails.

This article was first published in the June 2015 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.

Other articles that may interest you………………..

To see the results of my Slug and Snail Trial and discover the most effective methods to protect your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.

For ideas on protecting ways to protect your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.

For information and tips on how you can help hedgehogs, please click here.

For information on container plants that will attract bees and butterflies to your garden, please click here.

To read about The Festival Of Roses at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and see photographs of some of the new rose introductions, including the 2016 Rose Of The Year, please click here.

To read my interview with Chris Beardshaw and find out more about The Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden, please click here

For information on award winning, specialist nurseries and expert growers, supplying a variety of plants, from Hostas, Roses, carnivorous plants, Iris and Peonies, woodland plants, shrubs, indoor plants and much more, please click here

For tips and ideas if you’re Gardening on a Budget, please click here.

If you’re interested in trying Straw Bale Gardening, you can read my review of Joel Karsten’s book, ‘Straw Bale Gardens Complete’, by clicking here.

To see the 20 shortlisted plants, including the finalists and winner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year Award, please click here.

For details of beautiful, important and historic gardens to visit in Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex, please click here.

To see all the Gold Medal winning Show Gardens from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015, including Dan Pearson’s garden which won Best In Show, please click here.

For information about daffodils, please click here.

To find out about the Water Station Garden by Pepa s Krasa, a Fresh Garden, showcasing drought tolerant plants at the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, please click here.

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