There is hope to grow beautiful plants in a yard full of slugs and snails
Sometimes, no matter what preventative measures you take, slugs and snails still damage plants. And even though they may not kill the plant, the plant's foliage is certainly unsightly. If slugs and snails are a big problem for you and you are not diligent about killing them or repelling them, check out my list of Top 10 Slug and Snail resistant Plants below. I'll start with shade tolerant plants since slugs and snails thrive in the shade:
Shade Tolerant Plants
Ajuga, common name "Bugleweed", is a low growing ground cover hardy in zones 3 thru 9. It spreads quickly, but is not invasive in most areas of the country. If left alone, spikes of flowers, usually purple, will appear. Cutting the flowers off will not harm the plant if you prefer that look. Ajuga can handle sun, shade, and moist growing conditions, though they prefer an average soil in partial sun.
Aquilegia, common name "Columbine", is one of my all time favorite plants. Hardy in zones 3 thru 9, Columbine has delicate foliage in various shades of green with small flowers that rise above the foliage and stand prettily in the garden. There are more than 60 varieties of Columbine so flowers can be bell-like and face down or they can face outward looking like happy faces of sunshine. They thrive in moist soil, that drains well and can handle a little sun if kept moist enough.
Astilbe is a perennial plant, hardy in zones 4 thru 8, with fern-like foliage that puts up plume-like flowers in late spring and early summer. Though it blooms for only a few weeks, the display is beautiful and they blend well with other shade loving plants, like hosta and coral bells.
Ferns are hardy in zones 2 thru 12 depending on the variety, so you are sure to find one that will fit in perfectly with your landscape. Since the foliage can be rough along the top and underside of the leaves, it is unattractive to slugs and snails. When given enough moisture, ferns can look pretty and green all summer long. If the tips begin to go brown due to drought or hot temperatures, you can cut the ferns down and they will re-sprout again.
Hydrangea are perennial shrubs that are hardy in zones 4 thru 9. Blooming in mid to late summer, hydrangeas can sport large pom-pom type flowers or smaller delicate lace type flowers. Some even change color from white to pink as the blooms age. If you want to make a statement, and have the room in your garden, hydrangeas are just the ticket. Newer smaller varieties are emerging all the time that make hydrangea more acceptable in smaller landscapes. One word of caution, some of my hydrangeas are susceptible to Japanese beetles in June, but the damage is minimized by the short season of the Japanese beetle and is not all that noticeable once the hydrangeas bloom.
Sun Tolerant Plants
Alyssum is a low growing, tender annual with tiny little fragrant flowers. Planted in mass or in hanging baskets, alyssum will add a lot of bang for your buck as the plants will spread and fill-in to create a carpet of flowers over the summer. Though there are probably some pests that like alyssum, I have yet to encounter any in my zone 5 garden.
Geraniums, whether perennial (Cranesbill) or annual (Pelargonium) both seem to be very resistant to most garden pests. Blooming most of the summer, geraniums are colorful additions to any garden that require little maintenance. Cut off spent blooms on the annual variety as needed and cut back the perennial variety after it's first flush of blooms and it will most likely bloom again. Incidentally, the annual variety is hardy in zones 10-11, but grown as an annual in most of the U.S.
Narcissus(Daffodil) are perennial spring flowering bulbs with varieties hardy in zones 3 thru 11. Daffodils have very few garden pests and can be planted in sunny areas as well as under deciduous trees and shrubs. Since the plants bloom before the trees and shrubs leaf out, they are perfect for these areas. Varieties come in heights from 4" to 12" with single or double blooms. Many are fragrant and make great cut flowers as well.
Phlox are perennials that come in tall and creeping varieties. Hardy in zones 4 thru 8, they come in shades of pink, white and lavender. Tall garden phlox are actually one of my favorite garden plants, especially when planted in mass. The color display is absolutely stunning. Creeping phlox can quickly spread over a few years to fill in a garden bed and generally bloom in the spring. Tall garden phlox varieties tend to bloom later in mid to late summer.
Roses are perennial shrubs that can be hardy in most areas of the U.S. For us northern gardeners, I really like Rugosa roses for easy care and hardiness. Slugs and snails usually stay away from the foliage due to the thorny stems. Roses can be susceptible to Japanese Beetles, but damage can be kept to a minimum if you take proper precautions against the beetles early on in the season. Read how to control Japanese Beetles here.
Though there are many more slug and snail resistant plants, these are my 10 favorites that can be grown in the majority of the United States. Read more about how to control slugs and snails by visiting my Pestbusters article here.
I love hostas and slugs and snails love hostas too. So what is a hosta collector, such as myself, to do? Well, I have invested in many thick leafed hostas that are somewhat slug and snail resistant. Most hosta leaves feel delicate and thin. These are the hostas that slugs and snails will eat first. Look for hostas with very thick, waxy looking leaves. Many are blue in color and prefer more shade than sun, but there are some newer cultivars with green and gold leaves that are also slug and snail resistant. These varieties should be labeled that they are slug or snail resistant. Here are a few to look for:
Abiqua Drinking Gourd
All that Jazz
Blaze of Glory
Blue Mouse Ears
Fire and Ice
Jimmy Crack Corn
Key Lime Pie
Lakeside Beach Captain
Sum & Substance
Touch of Class
See photos of some of the hostas in my garden by going here.
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