Slug-free Hostas

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With its thick blue leaves, Hosta ‘Hadspen Blue’ is doubly protected against slugs. Photo: http://www.perennialresource

Last year I published a list of hostas that are resistant to slugs. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not a complete list, but it does cover a lot of ground.

However, a list of slug-free hostas won’t be of much use to you if you’re in a nursery looking for some new hostas for your garden and you don’t have a tablet or smartphone to consult. Fortunately, you can do a pretty good job of picking out slug-resistant hostas just by their look and feel.

The first thing to understand is that slugs don’t like hostas with thick leaves. So, just by touching the leaf of a hosta in a nursery, you can usually judge quite accurately whether or not it will attract or repulse slugs. Of course, that won’t be of much use to you if you’ve never handled a hosta before: you do need a certain amount of hosta experience to judge whether a leaf is thick or thin.

Fortunately there another easy method: look for “bloom”. By bloom, I don’t mean flowers, but rather the thin waxy coating that covers the leaves of some hostas and gives them a bluish appearance. Bloom also repels slugs. I don’t know why, but they simply won’t eat blue hostas. In the case of green or yellow or variegated hostas, some are slug-resistant, some are not, but a hosta with blue leaves is always a safe purchase: they are all slug-resistant!

If you want to be a laidback gardener, toss all hostas in your garden that are subject to slug damage and replace them with varieties that aren’t. Not only will your hostas look better, but you’ll reduce the general slug population, thus protecting other plants in your garden from their ravages.

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