Slugs? Hosta la vista baby!
Amateur Gardening|March 20, 2021
Hostas are slug magnets aren’t they, so why should we bother growing them at all? Well, there is a bit more to it than that, as Graham Rice explains
Graham Rice

IT’S true that slugs love hostas – but they don’t love all hostas. There are two groups that show significant resistance to our slimy friends. The first group are those with heavy duty, often heavily textured, foliage with a more slugproof skin than other varieties. Often these are varieties derived from that old favourite Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans’ and the leaves are often that same steely blue-grey colour for which hostas are famous.

Some of our most popular hostas, such as ‘Halcyon’ and ‘Hadspen Blue’, are among those with the most dependable, bluish slug-proof leaves.

A thicker skin is the secret

But they can also be variegated versions of the heavy-duty blue-leaved hostas, with a golden central splash, white or golden margins or, occasionally both. It’s the thickness of the skin of the foliage that’s important, as the rasping tongue of a hungry slug simply can’t get through.

Planting these slug-resistant hostas won’t always be 100% successful, especially early in the season. As you might expect, hosta foliage is at its most vulnerable when its young and fresh and varieties that are resistant in high summer may prove susceptible to predation in early spring.

Just one small bite...

It only takes one bite out of an emerging spring shoot to develop into a large hole as the leaf expands to its full size. So I always treat my hostas, even the slug resistant ones, with a few organic slug pellets in late winter, before the shoots emerge, just in case hungry molluscs are on the prowl for an early nibble.

The other group of hostas that are less likely to be damaged by slugs are those with long upright leaf stems. Hosta stems have thicker skins than the leaves so the longer the stem, the farther a slug has to crawl before it reaches a tasty leaf – and many will give up. Blue-leaved ‘Krossa Regal’ is probably the best known of this type, along with the gold-edged, green-leaved ‘Sagae’.

All in all, this adds up to quite a few slug-resistant varieties and you can search for them on the Sue Proctor Plants website, where you can select ‘slug resistant’, along with other features, to narrow down your choice.

So don’t give up growing hostas just because you have slugs!

Slug resistant hostas

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