London (change)

Top tips for stopping slugs

Slugs may have voracious appetites but they're fussy eaters too – and therein lies an answer to a slimy problem. The good news is that there are a selection of plants that slugs, and snails, will steer clear of.

Slugs will avoid any plants that are tough, hairy and bitter. They'll choose lettuce over chicory, Brussels sprouts over sprouting broccoli, and chrysanthemums over dandelions. Then there are plants with hairy, glossy or waxy leaves, which prevent their tongues scraping away the surface. Also unpopular are those with pungent-smelling foliage, such as lavender. The fragrance is contained in vessels that fracture when touched to release essential oils, which, for slugs, must be like gargling perfume.

20 top slug-beaters

We've found the following plants to be most resistant to slugs. Of course, resistance does not mean immunity, but if you pick from this list, it's a satisfying way to repell slugs without extra cost, effort or chemical side effects.

  • Aquilegias
  • Astilbes
  • Astrantias
  • Begonias
  • Crocosmias
  • Euphorbias
  • Ferns
  • Fuchsias
  • Grasses
  • Hardy geraniums
  • Hellebores
  • Hydrangeas
  • Japanese anemones
  • Lady's mantle
  • Lavenders
  • Lilium henryi
  • Pelargoniums
  • Penstemons
  • Roses
  • Sedums

Top tips for foiling slugs

Don't overfeed young plants in spring, as this only encourages soft growth, which slugs love to eat.

Try to water the garden in the morning, rather than the evening, as trails of water over the garden create night-time slug highways. Water at the roots if possible, or dip potted plants in buckets of water.

Piles of sweet bran under hostas creates something of a mollusc free-for-all at night. Then just pick them off the piles in the morning.

You could grow a sacrificial offering, perhaps a tasty lettuce or two, in your borders, and ensure you regularly pick off the culprits.

Encourage natural predators. Plant trees to act as roosts, and berry-producing plants, such as holly, to entice thrushes into the garden. Create a pond to provide a habitat for frogs, newts and toads, all of which consume unfeasibly high numbers of slugs each night.

Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: Top tips for stopping slugs
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Sharon14 24/11/2011 at 15:27

Slugs are a nightmare in my garden, and last year I was given loads of petunias - apparently total slug magnets, as few survived to give me a couple of flowers before succumbing to the slugs' voracious appetites. I have tried copper rings, sticky slug repellent, beer traps and none have been particularly successful. I won't use pellets as I have two young children, and a pond is out for the same reason. Guess there are some things I will never get to grow! Sigh.... I dream of Hostas....!!!

mikematthews 24/11/2011 at 15:27

i have been after plants that are slug prove thank you for the article mmatthews

mazboy45 24/11/2011 at 15:27

could someone please tell me why i have the only astrantias in the world that get eaten by slugs and snails - they appear on all the lists of plants they don't like which is why i bought them in the first place but every year they get eaten to the ground - any explanations?

kaycurtis 24/11/2011 at 15:27

I found this item really good and wanted to keep it in my scrap book but no matter how I tried I couldn't incorperate this or the bumble bee artical into scrap book. one miniut it allowed me in then it wouldn't. I have used scap book before and worked the system OK! I am now tearing my hair out, has any one else suffered at the hands of scapbook?

gillrose 24/11/2011 at 15:27

sounds great i will definately plant some of these in my newly aquired allotment.

See more comments...