Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Slug Resistant Plants

Some plants simply send slugs running!

The true secret to controlling slugs easily is not to battle them with egg shell barriers, beer traps, or other lures, repellents or snares, but to remove the plants that attract them and to replace them with plants that don’t.

The classic case is of course the hosta.

Hosta undulata ‘Albomarginata’ attracts slugs like a magnet.

Hostas are renowned for attracting slugs. Yet in fact, only some hostas are to blame. In fact, three hostas – by far the most popular in our gardens – are the main victims of slug damage: Hosta ‘Undulata Albomarginata’, a medium-size hosta with fairly narrow wavy-edged leaves edged in white, H. ‘Undulata Mediovariegata’, similar, but with a reverse variegation (there is a flame-shaped white marking in center of the leaf) and H. ‘Undulata Univittata’, again with the same wavy fairly narrow leaves, but this time entirely dark green, with no variegation. These are the hostas used for mass plantings, grown by millions in temperate climates around the world, largely because they grow and multiply quickly, making them inexpensive. But they also attract slugs like a magnet.

Slugs actually hide in the roots and crowns of these hostas at night. They also lay their eggs at the base of H. ‘Undulata Albomarginata’, H. ‘Undulata Mediovariegata’, and H. ‘Undulata Univittata’ and young slugs get their start feeding on their leaves. Ruthlessly removing these hostas from your garden can so reduce the slug population in general that even other slug-susceptible plants are largely left alone.

‘Sum and Substance’ is a popular slug-resistant hosta. Photo:

But not all hostas attract slugs. Many are only somewhat attractive to slugs and only suffer minor damage, especially early in the season. And some hostas are out and out slug-resistant. This is the case of many if not most of the modern varieties, since hybridizers selectively breed for slug resistance, but many old-fashioned hostas are slug-resistant as well. H. sieboldiana ‘Elegans’, for example, a well-known and highly slug-resistant hosta, was introduced in 1905! Slugs are not attracted to thick-leaved hostas, nor hostas with blue leaves, for example. Read Slug-Resistant Hostas: Take Your Pick! for a list of over 100 slug-resistant hosta cultivars.

Other Plants

You can almost tell if a plant will attract or repulse slugs just by studying it. Slugs tend to prefer plants with soft, thin leaves. That’s why they do so much damage to seedlings: young plants’ leaves have not yet developed their more leathery final texture. Conversely, slugs tend to avoid leaves that are hairy, tough, fibrous, thick or waxy, as well as those with a bitter taste or with strong odors (many herbs are slug resistant, for example). Oddly, slugs often find plants that are poisonous to humans quite palatable.

Slug-Resistant Plant List

Daylilies (Hemerocallis),  ‘Stella d’Oro’, are almost never attacked by slugs.

Here is a short list of slug-resistant plants. I’ve included mostly perennials, annuals, herbs and vegetables. Most shrubs, conifers and trees, even if they may be somewhat susceptible to hosta damage in their youth, eventually outgrow the damage.

  1. Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum) annual
  2. Alyssum, sweet (Lobularia spp.) annual
  3. Anemone, Japanese (Anemone × hybrida, A. japonica, A. hupehensis)
  4. Artemisia (Artemisia spp.) zones 2-9
  5. Astilbe (Astilbe spp.) zones 4-8
  6. Bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus) annual
  7. Bamboo (most species) zones 4-11
  8. Bamboo, heavenly (Nandina domestica) zones 6-10
  9. Basket of gold (Aurinia spp.) zones 3-9
  10. Begonia, bedding (Begonia semperflorens) annual
  11. Bellfower (Campanula spp.) zones 3-7
  12. Bergenia (Bergenia spp.) zones 3-9
  13. Bidens (Bidens spp.) annual
  14. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.) zones 3-8
  15. Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.) zones 3-9
  16. Bluestar (Amsonia spp.) zones 3-9
  17. Bugleweed (Ajuga spp.) zone 3-9
  18. California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) annual
  19. Candytuft (Iberis spp.) zones 3-8
  20. Carnation (Dianthus spp.) zones 3-8
  21. Catmint (Nepeta spp.) zones 3-8
  22. Cleome (Cleome spp.) annual
  23. Columbine (Aquilegia spp.) zones 3-10
  24. Conifers (most species) zones 2-10
  25. Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.) zones 3-10
  26. Cosmos (Cosmos spp.) annual
  27. Crocosmia (Crocosmia spp.) zones 5-11
  28. Cyclamen (Cyclamen spp.) zones 5-9
  29. Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.) zones 3-9
  30. Epimedium (Epimedium spp.) zones 3-9
  31. Euphorbia (Euphorbia spp.) zones 1-12
  32. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) zones 6-9
  33. Ferns (most species) zones 1-12
  34. Foxglove (Digitalis spp.) zones 4-9
  35. Fuchsia (Fuchsia spp.) annual or zones 7-9
  36. Gazania (Gazania spp.) annual
  37. Geranium, hardy (Geranium spp.) zones 2-10
  38. Ginger, hardy (Hedychium spp.) zones 7-12
  39. Globe thistle (Echinops spp.) zones 3-9
  40. Goat’s beard (Aruncus app.) zones 3-8
  41. Grasses, ornamental (most species) zones 2-12
  42. Hellebore (Helleborus) zones 4-8
  43. Heuchera (Heuchera spp.) zones 3-9
  44. Holly, sea (Eryngium spp.) zones 3-9
  45. Hosta (Hosta spp.) (thick-leaved and blue-leaved varieties) zones 3-9
  46. Houseleek (Sempervivum spp.) zones 3-10
  47. Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.) zones 3-9
  48. Impatiens (Impatiens spp.) annual
  49. Ivy (Hedera spp.) zones 5-10
  50. Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium spp.) zones 3-8
  51. Knautia (Knautia spp.) zones 3-8
  52. Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla spp.) zones 3-9
  53. Lantana (Lantana spp.) zones 9-12
  54. Lavender (Lavandula spp.) zones 5-10
  55. Lettuce, romaine (Lactuca sativa) vegetable
  56. Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus spp.) zones 8-11
  57. Lobelia, edging (Lobelia erinus) annuelle
  58. Lungwort (Pulmonaria) zones 3-9
  59. Marigold, pot (Calendula officinalis) annual
  60. Masterwort (Astrantia spp.) zones 3-9
  61. Meadow rue (Thalictrum spp.) zones 3-8
  62. Mint (Mentha spp.) zones 2-10
  63. Mock Strawberry (Duchesnea indica) zones 4-9
  64. Monk’s hood (Aconitum spp.) zones 3-9
  65. Mullein (Verbascum spp.) zones 3-8
  66. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.) annual
  67. Nemesia (Nemesia spp.) annual
  68. Nicotiana (Nicotiana spp.) annual
  69. Oregano (Origanum vulgare) zones 4-10
  70. Pelargonium (Pelargonium spp.) zones 9-12
  71. Penstemon (Penstemon spp.) zones 3-9
  72. Peony (Paeonia spp.) zones 3-9
  73. Periwinkle (Vinca spp.) zones 4-10
  74. Phlox (Phlox spp.) zones 2-9
  75. Pincushion flower (Scabiosa spp.) zones 3-8
  76. Pink (Dianthus spp.) zones 3-8
  77. Poppy (Papaver spp.) zones 3-8
  78. Portulaca (Portulaca spp.) annual
  79. Potentilla (Potentilla spp.) zones 3-9
  80. Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.) zones 3-10
  81. Rockcress (Arabis spp. and Aubretia spp.) zones 3-5
  82. Rodgersia (Rodgersia spp.) zones 4-9
  83. Rose (Rosa spp.) zones 2-10
  84. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) zones 8-10
  85. Rudbeckia (Rudbeckia spp.) zones 3-8
  86. Sage (Salvia spp.) zones 5-9
  87. Salal (Gaultheria shallon) zones 6-8
  88. Saxifrage (Saxifraga) zones 3-9
  89. Sedum (Sedum spp.) zones 2-12
  90. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) annual
  91. Snow-in-summer (Cerastium spp.) zones 3-8
  92. Speedwell (Veronica spp.) zones 3-9
  93. Thrift (Armeria spp.) zones 3-9
  94. Thyme (Thymus spp.) zones 3-9
  95. Tulip (Tulipa spp.) zones 3-8
  96. Verbena (Verbena spp.) annual
  97. Violet (Viola spp.) zones 2-10
  98. Yew (Taxus spp.) zones 4-7
  99. Yucca (Yucca spp.) zones 3-12
  100. Woodruff, sweet (Galium odoratum) zones 3-9Zinnia (Zinnia spp.) annual

Slug-Susceptible Plants

Most herbs are quite slug resistant… but not basil (Ocimum basilicum). You can use it as a trap plant to draw slugs away from other herbs and vegetables. Photo:

The following plants are very subject to slug damage, especially in humid climates or when grown in shade or under moist conditions. They may actually attract slugs to your garden and increase the local slug population resulting in damage to normally less susceptible plants.

Note that many vegetables are susceptible to slug damage as seedlings, but then are left alone when they mature. In fact, one way of reducing slug damage in seriously slug-infested vegetable gardens is to consistently start seedlings indoors and only plant them out after their leaves have hardened.

  1. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) zones 10-11
  2. Bean (Phaseolum spp., Vicia spp. and Vigna spp.) vegetable
  3. Begonias, tuberous (Begonia x tuberhybrida) zones 10-12
  4. Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) vegetable
  5. Calla (Zantedeschia spp.) zones 8-12
  6. Coleus (Coleus scutellarioides) annual
  7. Corn (Zea mays) vegetable (seedlings only)
  8. Dahlia (Dahlia spp.) zones 8-12
  9. Delphinium (Delphinium spp.) zones 3-9
  10. Hosta (Hosta spp.) (thin-leaved varieties) zones 3-9
  11. Lettuce, leaf, crisphead and Boston (Lactuca sativa) vegetable
  12. Ligularia (Ligularia sp.) zones 3-9
  13. Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majus) zones 2-7
  14. Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) annual
  15. Mustard (Brassica spp.) vegetable, herb
  16. Potato (Solanum tuberosum) vegetable (some varieties are slug resistant)
  17. Primrose (Primula spp.) zones 3-9
  18. Seedlings of most vegetables
  19. Soybean (Glycine max) vegetable
  20. Strawberry (Fragaria spp.) zones 3-9

Article originally published on July 17, 2015.

9 comments on “Slug Resistant Plants

  1. Great list.

    I introduced nematodes to our veg garden this week to fight slugs that have devastated our leafy greens. Has anyone here tried slug nematodes and have they worked for you?

  2. I can not help but wonder why hostas are as popular as they are where they are so commonly ruined by slugs. That is probably the main reason I dislike them. I know they are delightful plants in the right situations, but I see too many that look so horrid.

  3. You are completely right about lists being satisfying .. I have mine scattered on different pieces of paper which I really have to combine and complete some day.
    I have lots of Halcyon hosta with other thick leaf types to ward those little so and so, off and out of bounds .. but I also have great allies with birds in the garden, they are doing a bang up job this year while raising young ones and teaching them to help keep my garden free of pests
    Good thing they don’t have a union or I might have to up the rewards ! LOL

  4. Christine Lemieux

    I love your lists! I can attest to their accuracy in my garden. I will have to stop planting marigolds where I seed beans! Thank you!

  5. That’s a good extensive list, a few I can attest to. Those snails really cause misery for us gardeners. xo

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