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Cunning wheezes - How to keep slugs off hostas


By AndrewR


Hostas like moist soil but do not enjoy sitting in waterlogged conditions during the winter.
Pot up the hosta, preferably in aquatic compost (which is low in nutrients). Stand the pot on bricks in a pond so that only the bottom couple of inches are below water. Position well away from the edge of the pond so there is no means of access for slugs or snails. After the leaves have died off in late autumn, take the pot out of the pond and put it somewhere you can keep an eye on it – I keep mine in a cold greenhouse. At the first sign of new growth in the spring, put it back in the pond (no need to harden off first).
I’ve used this method for three yeas now. The hostas will probably need fresh compost every four or five years to get some feeding. I’ve also used it successfully for lobelia cardinalis ‘Queen Victoria’ (beloved of slugs) and primula viallii (less tolerant of winter wet)

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Useful advice.
Anything to combat slugs is very welcome.
Thanks, Andrewr. :o)

13 Dec, 2008


Thanks again for some helpful advice.

13 Dec, 2008


Just to be awkward, what if you haven't got a pond, Andrew? I am hoping that my new plants will come through the winter, but I am concerned that the dreaded snails will get to them - if the wet and cold doesn't kill them first, that is!

13 Dec, 2008


Have you planted them in the ground spritz? If so, nothing like making it difficult for yourself!
Majeekahead reckons the predator method is very effective. I am experimenting next year with copper rings around susceptible plants

13 Dec, 2008


Yes - in my 'boring corner'. I shall have to be watchful in the spring, I suppose, and get out there with the slug pellets! I have cleared away the fallen leaves so that I know where each one is - labelled.

13 Dec, 2008


Iv'e head of Garlic spray being used as a snail deterrant as well but as I haven't used it I can't recommend its effectiveness.

We have masses of Hostas and we surround the pots with coarse gravel which makes the 'journey time' a little more difficult for the snails. We also hand pick them off the pots late at night but it's time consuming of course.

The Lobelia Queen Victoria (a personal favourite) and the Hostas must look lovely when used as marginals in your pond Andrew.

13 Dec, 2008


There are Hostas which are "resistant" to slugs and snails...partially because of growth habit...the leaves are densely arranged and tend to be thicker and ruffled. The following is a list I found after a very quick search...but I have three of the varieties and colours mentioned and (I'm touching wood as I speak) although I have slugs in my garden my Hostas have been the picture of health...
List as follows:
Hosta sieboldiana Elegans
Krossa Regal
Love Pat, Blue Moon and Blue Angel, (Blues)
Gold Edger, Sun and Substance (Yellow margins)
Invincible (solid green)
Of course resistance is just what it may have particularly enterprising snails and slugs in your garden who may sneer at that...but it's one more choice ahead of slug bait, etc.
That's a very smart strategy, Andrewr, I think I might pot up a hosta for the pond. Great idea!

13 Dec, 2008


An interesting comment Lori.

We also seem to be very lucky with our Hostas, although we tend to check them regularly particularly after they have been watered or after it's been raining.This is the time when they are vulnerable to attack.

It certainly pays to be vigilant.

I agree, I find some of the deeply 'ribbed' leaf varieties, and those with densey packed leaves tend to be more 'resistant' to snail attack.

We have over 25 different plants now and this number will probably grow in 2009.I can't resist them!

We mulch them with gravel over the surface of the pots then stand them on a base of gravel. This has certainly helped to preserve our collection, but I'm not claiming it to be a failsafe precaution.

13 Dec, 2008


I buy pea gravel by the bag and use it for a path cover...just 'til the moss gets a footing and smooths it over! and pea gravel also works wonders in the pond adds weight to keep them in place and it helps keep silty muck from the pots from floating around, just a thin layer is all you need. I imagine it would be deterring for slugs because it is loose and snails prefer a relatively smooth surface. This past summer has been a season of discovery for me, partly because of the feedback from goY members and partly from the plant choices I made this spring...Hostas have been my favourites for a very long time...and it's great to know that I can put them into my pond, all of the clumps I have will need dividing come spring! Yippee!

13 Dec, 2008


I have failed miserably with Hostas in the past, it has only taken a weekend away for them to be decimated so I had given up on them.
The idea of growing them as marginals appeals, i shall give it a try next year. They are such attractive plants and would give my pond the lift it needs. Many thanks for the tip, Andrew.

14 Dec, 2008


I would add to another entry. Many of the new Hosta offerings are very slug resistant.

Garlic or ginger sprays do help. My own is the use of diluted Lemon Ammonia. It fertililizes the plants and kills young slugs.

14 Dec, 2008


I have some hostas in pots but I haven't got a pond to put them in. They seem to thrive though.

16 Dec, 2008


Lots of good advice, thanks, Andrew! I must have the resitant types as they never get touched, even those in the ground. Oh, Spritz, I love hostas, I don't think they're at all boring. I really like when they turn bright yellow in Autumn, too.

18 Dec, 2008


Re garlic "brew" spray - the hosta experts who gave an excellent talk @ our gardening club last year (you know, the one formerly known as this year) said garlic brew recommended and they also took a hefty sideswipe at Monty Don for stealing their recipe and recommending it on TV...
Doesn't sound like gentleman Monty to me, but you never know, tee hee.
Their talk was really good, and they showed good slides of visits to hosta gardens in the US and Canada. I have to say I never thought you could make a whole GOOD evening out of hostas, but they did. Wish I could remember who on earth they were, but it might come back to me.
Then again, it might not.

5 Jan, 2009


When garlic is freely available to could the "experts" claim anything as generic as that was their property? (even if they have added "extras"...guess they missed the boat! lol) I don't understand why people have to be so territorial. It's not like they personally invented hosta gardening....most of the organic methods have been around for centuries...good old common sense.
I'm a diehard hosta fan...wonderful plants. Have seen WHOLE gardens of nothing but...and it's a treat! Sympathize with those who battle with slugs to enjoy their hostas every year...I know how lucky I am that I've not had problems there (touching wood as we speak)...

6 Jan, 2009


My daughter sent me a book many years ago - 50 Ways to Kill a Slug - it is very funny - isbn 0-7537-1008-0 - don't know if it is still available to buy, but it is quite hilarious.
I also like Hostas - they have some very pretty shades and variegated leaves - and are of course green which happens to be my favourite colour, so I am with the Hosta Fan Club most definitely.

6 Jan, 2009


~I have a lovely cream and pale green hosta in a pot outside and it usually makes it through the winter~however it has been colder than usual so may have to put it somewhere more sheltered~`last year it was very good and didn't show any slug damage for ages but they got there in the end!
Maybe I should buy the book!

7 Jan, 2009


Arlene - you can now buy rolls of copper tape in Garden Centres. You peel off the backing and stick it round the pot just under the rim. Apparently slugs won't cross the copper because it gives them an electric shock

8 Jan, 2009


~worth a try~thank you!

8 Jan, 2009


Yes I do agree it is silly. I think they were just miffed bcos they happened to b the ones who gave him the tip originally and he didn't give them the credit on national TV, or somesuch. Life is really too short...

Andrew - is the copper tape expensive, would you say, and how often would it need renewing?

11 Jan, 2009


From memory, the copper tape is about £3-£4 per roll but you get a few metres for that. It lasts until the sticky backing starts to lose its grip - perhaps two or three years depending on the weather and whether the pots are left outside during winter

11 Jan, 2009


Ok, thanks for the info - I might well try some round the veg this coming season.

13 Jan, 2009


My experience with the copper tape was that it became unstuck in a few months but was successful while in place,

14 Apr, 2009

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