Gardens and Outdoors Plants

The 20 Plants That Slugs Hate/Won’t Eat

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Many gardeners can get very frustrated with the presence of pests such as snails and slugs. It’s time-consuming and difficult to get rid of them while some pest control methods can often involve harmful chemicals. Instead of trying to deter them with pellets, perhaps you could try another approach. By growing plants that slugs don’t like, you can easily outwit these annoying pests and keep the garden healthy.

If you’re looking for plants that have been shown to create an aversion to slugs, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll take a look at the best options to include in your slug-infested garden. The result will be a yard that’s much easier to manage with hardly any compromises in terms of beauty. There are attractive flowers and plants that have natural adaptations to keep pests such as slugs or snails at a distance. From toxic leaves to thick foliage, there are lots of plants that can put slugs off. Check them out down below.

1. Columbine

If you’re looking for a plant that slugs avoid, columbine could be a solid choice. This drought-tolerant perennial offers elegant flowers that can remind you of the cap of a jester. While pests such as slugs don’t usually affect this plant, hummingbirds are particularly drawn to its pretty blooms. Columbines can be suitable for a wide range of landscaping applications. Their plant profile can match multiple environments successfully as you can integrate columbine flowers in woodland gardens or rock gardens.

One solid advantage of this flower is the expanded range of color varieties. Some types of columbines can show off two-color designs whereas the most common shades you can expect are yellow, pink, purple, and red. In terms of blooming times, columbine flowers start appearing in late spring and should persist until early summer. One problem to consider if you wish to plant columbines involves susceptibility to leaf miners pests. They won’t cause serious issues because only the leaves are affected. Sometimes the random variegated look created by the leaf miners may even appear aesthetically-pleasing.

2. Ferns

The leaves of ferns have some unappealing characteristics for slugs and snails. This is just another benefit of these amazingly hardy and low-maintenance plants. While ferns don’t show off pretty flowers, they are worth growing just for the attractive foliage that can resist the attacks of common pests. Select a well-drained spot in the garden where ferns can also receive plenty of moisture and protection from intense sunlight. These ancient plants don’t really need fertilizer or special maintenance so they’re ideal for beginner gardeners.

Use ferns to add a vibrant green background for other plants or as a reliable ground cover that repels slugs. There are various types of ferns to consider for your garden. Some of the most popular to include are the Christmas fern and Japanese painted fern. The maidenhair fern is also very appreciated for its delicate fronds and lacy appearance. Ferns are often kept as potted plants indoors but some of them can be difficult to grow unless you can provide them the right humid environment.

3. Lavender

Slugs tend to have a strong dislike for aromatic plants. Lavender boasts a particularly intense fragrance that seems to keep these pests at bay. This makes it an ideal plant to have in your garden as you can add a pleasant scent to the surroundings for yourself. Planting lavender close to plants that are susceptible to slugs or snails might help them. This hardy perennial herb isn’t only used for its aromatic properties. Many gardeners appreciate the aesthetic appeal of purple lavender flowers as well.

Sandy and well-drained soils allow this plant to perform as expected. It also requires copious amounts of sunlight similar to its native Mediterranean environment. Depending on your climate, it may be a good idea to check out some hardier types of lavender to match your garden. Lavender plants can be easily interspersed among other plants or they can be used for building hedges. The smell of lavender can repel other harmful insects like moths. Harvest flowers before they open completely to retain their fragrance for a long time.

4. Wormwood

Another great foliage plant that slugs hate is wormwood. It shows off beautiful leaves that keep a compact shape while some varieties can also release a pleasant scent. One of the most appreciated types of wormwood is the Silver Mound variety. As its name implies, the plant has silvery foliage and a tendency to grow low to the ground. For this reason, it seems to work best as ground cover. The plant has some insignificant blooms while the leaves grab all the attention through their looks and aromatic properties.

If you prefer a taller type of wormwood, it’s worth trying the Powis Castle variety. This one performs better as an edging plant while the scented foliage can be used for crafting wreaths. It can repel any visiting snails thanks to the strong fragrance of the leaves. The plant also boasts resistance to deer and rabbits for the same reason. The Powis Castle wormwood is considered a bushy subshrub that can remain evergreen in warm climates and offers good drought tolerance.

5. Yucca

Most varieties of yucca plants come with leaves that don’t represent attractive meals for slugs. They’re very tough to chew so maybe that’s why pests will avoid them. Yucca filamentosa is a good species to consider but there are many interesting yucca varieties to choose from. While the fibrous leaves are unappealing for slugs, there’s actually another reason why these plants are effective against such pests. There’s some substance contained in yuccas that can be extracted to act as a slug repellant.

Growing yucca plants can be easy if you’re able to provide the right kind of environment preferred by them. Full-sun gardens with arid conditions work best as yuccas are adapted to extended dry spells. You should prevent excessive moisture for the soil and avoid certain companion plants that can create too much competition for a yucca. This plant can be used for creating attractive garden displays with the help of their sharp leaves and waxy blooms. Depending on the variety, different types of yuccas bring distinctive visual interest through their foliage.

6. Lamb’s Ears

Thanks to the distinctive texture of its leaves, the lamb’s ears plant creates a reliable barrier against slugs. The soft feel of this plant’s foliage repels pests but can be very pleasant when touched by the gardener. Although lamb’s ears lacks impressive flowers, this plant is worth including in your yard just for its velvety texture. There is other good news if you wish to plant this herbaceous perennial. Lamb’s ears plants are considered quite hardy and spread very effectively.

The plant is suitable for growing regions 4 to 7 as they can adapt to warmer and colder climates without lots of issues. Full sun exposure is recommended for northern areas while those living in warmer locations should keep the lamb’s ears in partial shade. Poor soil conditions can allow this plant to flourish. Make sure you stick to watering it directly to the root. Lamb’s ears represent excellent plants for lots of landscaping applications such as flower borders and ground covers. They have good drought tolerance to suit rock gardens as well.

7. Euphorbia

Euphorbia plants stay protected against slug attacks by secreting a bitter-tasting milky sap. It can irritate human skin so these plants are considered poisonous. There’s a wide variety of plants in the Euphorbia genus so you can choose from perennials, succulents, or shrubs. Most of them have minimal growing and care requirements while also delivering exotic and attractive looks. Euphorbia plants retain their brilliant appearance for a long time and can work as effective companion plants to bring extra texture and structure to your garden.

Partial shade and moist soils with reliable drainage are key aspects of growing euphorbias. When the environment is not really ideal for them, it’s recommended to feed the plants or deal with some extra care procedures such as pruning. Annual mulching may also be required. Euphorbias can be easily propagated through cuttings but you need to be careful when handling the plants due to the toxic sap. Gloves are important to avoid skin contact.

8. Bugleweed

Bugleweed is a very tough plant that provides many benefits to your garden as long as you don’t mind its aggressive spread. This is a slug-proof plant that’s usually appreciated for the striking color of its leaves and upright spikes of purple flowers. Bugleweed is quite versatile as it can grow well in different areas of your garden or in more inhospitable environments. It can perform very nicely as ground cover under trees. The plant works great to provide attractive background foliage in flower borders.

This evergreen perennial can be very easy to grow and maintain. It’s recommended to opt for some of the showier varieties of bugleweed such as ‘Atropurpureum’ which has bronze-purple leaves or ‘Burgundy Glow’ that has multi-colored variegated foliage. You might also like the ‘Black Scallop’ bugleweed cultivar that stands out due to its dark leaves. Although this plant is disliked by slugs and other pests, it can be susceptible to some diseases like crown rot if it’s planted in very hot and humid climates.

9. Japanese Anemone

The Japanese anemone is capable of deterring slugs and snails but it’s a bit more difficult to get this plant properly established in some types of soil. This is due to its brittle roots. Fortunately, plants should be able to thrive and spread quite efficiently once the initial hurdle has passed. The flowers of the Japanese anemone show off a daisy-like appearance while the rough foliage makes a great textural impression. Those with small gardens can include them in containers.

Japanese anemone blooms in shades of white or pink. The plant is a fitting choice for yards with acidic soil and can sometimes grow easily in more difficult spots like areas under trees. This is mostly due to its shade tolerance which makes this type of anemone quite versatile. This native of China can be a powerful choice for landscaping purposes. The brilliant color of the Japanese anemone is welcomed in borders, especially in the late summer garden. If you have slug problems in cottage or coastal gardens, this plant is also recommended.

10. Jacob’s Ladder

It’s not clear why this plant is hated by slugs but it’s not really important as Jacob’s ladder can be a valuable addition to many gardens. This perennial flower has a tendency to create clumps and the name refers to the rung-like arrangement of the leaves. Jacob’s ladder is usually grown for its showy bell-shaped flowers. The most common varieties bloom in shades of purple but there are other options for those who prefer white, yellow, and pink flowers.

The hues of this plant’s flowers tend to have some fluorescent qualities that make Jacob’s ladder stand out in shady locations. Partial or dappled shade can allow this plant to thrive but it also requires moist and rich soil with good drainage. It’s good to know that Jacob’s ladder plants aren’t very fussy about maintenance. They’re fairly adaptable and you can prune them only if necessary. Regular watering can help if you wish to benefit from high-quality blooms. Keep the soil consistently moist but not wet.

11. Tree Peony

Although its seedlings can be vulnerable to slugs, mature tree peonies won’t be harmed by this pest. These plants are considered deciduous shrubs and are recommended for gardeners that love the blooms of classic peonies with the added benefit of a woody structure. The growing habit of the tree peony makes it suitable as a hedge plant or to decorate a property line. These plants don’t really form a reliable privacy screen but they’re more valuable for the appearance of their blooms.

If you’re interested in growing a tree peony, it’s important to consider the climate. This native of China prefers areas with hot summers and cold winters. It can develop as expected in hardiness zones 4 to 8. Anywhere from full sun to part shade exposure should be fine for this plant while fertile loam soil is ideal for growing showy flowers in shades of red, purple, white, and pink. Mulching could be important in the fall for locations with harsh winters.

12. Foxglove

The leaves of the foxglove plant contain a toxin that makes them unappealing to slugs or snails. This represents great news for gardeners that appreciate the eye-catching flowers of these slender plants. Foxgloves are also poisonous for humans and pets so keep that in mind before considering them for your yard. Heart medication is actually produced using toxins from foxgloves because the substances can have therapeutic benefits only in the correct dose.

The tubular blooms emerge on the plant’s characteristic spike and they’re usually displayed in shaded of pink, white, purple, and yellow. Thanks to their height, foxgloves work nicely to be included in the back row of flower borders. The flowers of foxgloves draw the attention of hummingbirds while their appearance matches the aesthetic of a cottage garden very well. Foxgloves can be grown well in multiple sunlight conditions but you need to adapt the chosen garden spot according to your specific climate. For example, it’s recommended to provide some shade to this plant in Southern areas.

13. Rosemary

This is another aromatic plant that’s usually avoided by slugs and other pests. Rosemary twigs can be incorporated in cooking besides warding away slugs and snails. This fragrant herb is quite easy to grow and can be used for many landscaping purposes. For example, some people use rosemary as a topiary plant because it can grow quite tall and wide making it simple to shape. Although it doesn’t show off a particularly impressive appearance, rosemary can be grown successfully together with companions for ornamental reasons.

Providing an optimal growing environment for rosemary involves living within hardiness areas 8 to 10. This herb is adapted to a Mediterranean climate so that’s why it’s expected to thrive in sandy soil with proper water drainage. Full sunlight is pretty much mandatory and you don’t really need to worry about high temperatures because this plant offers impressive heat tolerance and resistance to high humidity. Rosemary is popularly grown indoors to flavor your meals and bring its pleasant scent to the kitchen.

14. Hellebores

Hellebores plants like the Lenten rose have a waxy coating and leaves that are hard to chew. These are important details when searching for a slug-proof plant. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to grow hellebores because there are many varieties that prefer full or partial shade. They’re undemanding plants that can thrive well in naturalistic settings together with evergreen ferns. In their native environment, hellebores can be found at the edges of woodlands where they show off bold, evergreen foliage with elegant blooms.

Many gardeners grow hellebores for their solid decorative potential. Their flowers will typically have petals in shades of white, purple, and pink. There are many varieties though with many blooms showing off more exotic looks with some offering striped, spotted, or picotee sepals. Another advantage of this plant is its rich nectar that draws bumblebees to your garden. Some people might dislike the way hellebores flowers have a downward-facing habit but this protects the pollen and shelters pollinators.

15. Cyclamen

Another great plant to consider for maintaining a slug-free garden is cyclamen. This plant puts on an early garden show as it starts flowering at the beginning of the spring when most other plants haven’t bloomed yet. There are lots of different types of cyclamen plants but they all have some features in common. Cyclamens show off attractive foliage with heart-shaped leaves and colorful sweet-scented flowers that make them popular as houseplants. Some of the best varieties for this purpose are Victoria and Scentsation.

Despite having a fairly long blooming period, the cyclamen plant has minimal care requirements. It will usually become dormant in the summer season but can start blooming once again in the fall if the environment provides optimal conditions. Sometimes cyclamen plants appear to remain active but that can happen more often for indoor houseplants. Considering the native Mediterranean adaptation of cyclamen, it pays off to try to recreate that kind of climate. Avoid planting cyclamen in extreme heat or dry air.

16. Catmint

The strong smell of catmint has a protective effect in terms of pest damage. Similar to lavender and rosemary, this aromatic herb is disliked by slugs that move on towards much tastier plants. The catmint group of plants is made up of many different types, of which the most popular is catnip. Although it has a pleasant effect on your pet cats, this plant is rarely affected by pests, including deer. The distinctive aroma of catnip can be enjoyed by humans as well through herbal teas. It also draws hummingbirds.

Another favorite of gardeners is the ‘6 Hills Giant’ catnip hybrid which can be used successfully as ground cover in dry climates. This is an excellent catmint plant that’s recommended for larger yards. It grows dense with many showy flowers so this herb can often end up dwarfing other plants nearby. The ‘6 Hills Giant’ plant can be incorporated in the garden to cover other purposes. It works nicely as an edging plant or to fill gaps in flower beds. Make sure you choose a good spot for this catmint so it can serve as a proper foreground for taller plants.

17. Astilbe

The brilliant plumes of vibrant astilbe flowers can create a dramatic look in any garden. This plant isn’t liked by slugs so it’s safe to add to the yard if you’re dealing with this kind of pest problem. Astilbes are particularly recommended for those neglected spots in the garden that are more difficult to fill. The distinctive ferny foliage with feathery flowers of astilbe can develop successfully despite damp and shady conditions.

It’s a great plant for gardeners planning for a woodland aesthetic that includes multiple shade-tolerant plants. Astilbes are relatively easy to care for and maintain. You don’t have to bother with deadheading but you have to be careful about soil quality. These plants tend to enjoy moisture-retentive sites and have problems with dry soils. Dappled or part shade light conditions are ideal but some extra sun can be tolerated as long as the soil remains moist. Depending on size and color preferences, you can choose from multiple varieties of astilbes such as Rheinland, Federsee, and Younique Carmine.

18. Nasturtium

This annual climber plant is known for its distinctive blooms that are shaped like trumpets. The vibrant qualities of their flowers are attractive for many pollinators. Although butterflies love these plants, slugs don’t see nasturtiums as food. These plants can be used for adding some colorful touches to many gardens. Depending on specific varieties, nasturtium blooms show off multiple shades of orange, red, and yellow. Plant this cool-season annual in borders and edges for a strong ornamental effect.

Nasturtium plants can grow well even in more difficult conditions. They can flourish in different soil types, including more acidic varieties. These vigorous flowers have disc-shaped leaves recognized for their impressive water resistance. Nasturtium benefits from regular watering that can help a lot when developing their characteristic flowers. The blooming period can be extended through deadheading. Recommended varieties include Variegatus with red/orange flowers, Salmon Baby with pink flowers, and Peach Melba with yellow blooms and reddish centers.

19. Cranesbill Geranium

There are many types of hardy geranium plants that can provide protection against slugs. One good example is the cranesbill flower that offers lush foliage and easy maintenance requirements. This geranium plant is resistant to many other pests, not just slugs. It’s also tough enough to withstand diseases and tolerate drought. In terms of landscaping applications, this plant can be considered suitable for different types of gardens. These perennials have beautiful blooms that can persist for a long time.

Depending on your garden needs, you can take your pick from alpine types and sunny border plants. Cranesbill geraniums can bring some welcomed texture to your yard. The only thing to keep in mind is that you should strive to offer the plant an adequate growing environment. It thrives in well-drained moist soil that’s fairly rich in organic matter. They can be suitable for containers or rock gardens. Some people rely on cranesbill geranium plants to crowd out weeds because some varieties can act as a good ground cover.

20. Penstemon

With flowers that resemble the look of foxgloves, the penstemon plant is valuable for any gardener looking to create a slug-proof yard. The main highlight of this flower is the long-blooming season. There are different types of penstemon with blooms in shades of pink, red, yellow, and purple. They can have a lot of aesthetic appeal in cottage garden schemes. Another solid benefit of penstemon is its reliable ability to attract pollinators such as bees.

Penstemon flowers do well in full sun to partial shade exposure. Annual mulch and rich soils will help this plant to flourish. Depending on your location, it may be necessary to take summer cuttings of penstemon as a precaution in case the winter will be too harsh. These plants are very sensitive to cold and prefer moist soils with good drainage. When it comes to varieties, there are many penstemon options that you can try. ‘Sour Grapes’ is a nice cultivar that shows off pale purple flowers while the ‘Andenken an Friedrich Hahn’ variety has stunning crimson blooms.

By Stefan Bucur

Stefan is the founder and owner of Rhythm of the Home. He has 6 years of experience in home improvement, interior design, cleaning and organizing.

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