Be careful with that caterpillar, don’t step on that worm, and watch that spider, are all phrases you’ll hear me say to my son. Like most parents I’m trying to teach him to value life and how to look after the wildlife and bugs in our garden. However when it comes to slugs and snails I adopt a lightly different approach. There is no mercy shown in our garden. I so not use beer traps, copper wires and, of course, as an organic gardener I do not use slug pellets. However the large rubber sole of a boot is used very effectively against these animals who can decimate your plants and crops overnight.
I have also found some preventative measures to be moderately successful in discouraging them. All leaves are cleared from our flowers borders. This means those very small black slugs cannot hide under them in the daytime ready to slime out in the night and destroy my most tender of plants. I also try and clear all flower pots away so that they do not become a snail hotel.
How can I stop my plants being eaten by slugs and snails? This is the question I am most often asked by local mums and dads . My answer is usually to say that the most effective and low maintenance measure is to only plant and grow those plants which tend not to be completely eaten and nibbled by them.
Most of the plants I consider to be family friendly would come into this category and there are a surprising large number of them. For example most bulbs, especially spring flowering ones do not seem to be touched, many of the woody herbs, such as rosemary and lavender are probably much too tough and pungent for slugs and snails and spring flowering shrubs and trees seem not to be affected. Your roses whether climbing bush or any other variety will never have slug damage. All types of grasses seem to be immune to any attack. You could have a lovely garden just containing all these plants.
If you are out buying for your herbaceous borders from the garden centre this weekend you may like to bear the following list of slug and snail free plants in mind. The list does of course relate to my experiences and the slugs and snails in my garden, those in your garden may have different tastes!
My List of Top Ten Herbaceous Perennials Resistent to Slugs and Snails
Hardy Geraniums. These are top of my list and they are possibly my favourite flowers. This clump forming species has a wide range of varieties, from Alpine to large showy plants. Not to be confused with Annual Geraniums used for window boxes and summer pots.
Aquilegia. Please see my earlier post about these really family friendly plants
Erysimum‘Bowles’ Mauve’ A purple wallflower that is perennial – it grows a little leggy after a couple of years but provide good April colour in the garden.
Anemone hupehensis, Japanese Anemone – with white or pink late summer flowers
Nepeta x faassenii, Garden catmint. Slugs and snails seem to hate this pungent smalling herbs as much as cats love it.
Campanula poscharskyana or the Trailing Bellflower. Many Campanula will be eaten by slugs and snails, but I have found they tend not to go for this trailing variety, which is great for rockeries or finding its way into gaps in pavements. It also has a long flowering period.
Crocosmia or Montbretia. This is not strictly herbaceous plant as they are deciduous cormous perennials. I love the wide range of orange flowers they produce.
Myosotis or Forget me nots
I have all these plants in my garden and they thrive. I do also have hostas which are a favourite with both snails and slugs. My solution here is to keep them in pots and place them on the patio close to the house where I tend not to get so many slugs and snails. I do monitor though, and you will often hear the crunch at twilight where I have found a snail or two far too close to their beautiful leaves.
Which plants have you found will grow successfully in your garden and what are your tactics to keep slugs and snails away?
You will also find more information on our family friendly plants pages.