By Marianne Binetti
Supersize slugs are like rainy day mascots in the Northwest. The biggest challenge in my garden is when slugs of all sizes team up to devour plants. I take a four-prong approach to keeping them under control.
1) Use slug-resistant plants, especially in the moist, shaded areas that slugs prefer. Some that work for me: plants with hairy leaves (like the shade-loving brunnera), grasses (like golden Japanese forest grass), and the indestructible silver-leaf lamium (pictured). Plants with gray, red or very thick leaves usually can hold their own against slugs.
2) Protect “slug candy” plants by placing them high and out of reach. Putting slug favorites, like petunias and marigolds, in containers helps, but slugs still can climb up the sides of pots. This past summer I planted my favorite Bonfire begonias in cone-shape clay pots, attached at eye level to a porch post. The slugs, acting sluggish, refused to climb that high.
3) Create slug-free zones. My collection of hosta and my vegetable beds are designated slug-free zones—I sprinkle them with Worry Free Slug bait every few weeks. Worry Free is safe for pets and wildlife and contains iron, which permanently ruins the appetite of any slug taking a nibble. This means you don’t have to look at any slime or unsightly dead slugs. The critters just crawl back under the stone where they came from.
4) Go on a slug-busting rampage. I like to strike just after a rainstorm, slicing, stomping and searching for slugs that dare to enter the slug-free zone. I also set clay pots upside down or on their sides to lure the slugs in so I can find them. I admit: I have no mercy when it comes to slime on my hostas.
So, for the most part the slugs and I have learned to coexist. They get to eat the fallen debris and slither around in most of my garden, and I get to stomp on them if they enter my slug-free zones. Seems fair to me.
What plants resist the slugs in your garden?