Annual and Perennial Plants That Slugs Don’t Eat
I’m sure the local slug population sees my garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet, and last year was particularly bad; my dahlias took a real beating, with one losing about 50% of its leaves at one point.
While I haven’t admitted defeat in my ongoing war with these slimy pests, I have started growing more slug-resistant plants. Like most people, I prefer seeing plants in my borders rather than a sea of blue pellets.
Below you’ll find a list of my favourite plants that I know slugs won’t eat.
This isn’t a complete list but rather a collection of my favourite annuals and perennials that I know slugs don’t like.
1-10 (Perennial Plants That Slugs Won’t Eat)
Slugs and snails don’t go anywhere near Lavenders, I’ve been growing both English and French Lavenders for several years, and my slimy nemesis has nibbled not one single leaf or stem.
If you’ve never grown Lavender before, give them a try, you can find them in most garden centres from spring, and they’re really easy to grow. They don’t need much water, they never need feeding with fertiliser, and few pests affect them.
They prefer a sunny spot, so plant them close to other plants with similar low water/fertiliser requirements.
Dianthus is another popular plant that slugs won’t eat.
Often found in rockeries, pots and other raised areas of the garden, Dianthus plants flower from late spring through to autumn and are mostly pest free, and I know from experience that slugs don’t go near them.
They dislike overhead watering, which can lead to crown rot and they prefer a sunny spot but otherwise are easy to grow.
The photo below was taken in my garden during 2020.
I’ve been growing Hydrangea macrophylla “ab green shadow” for three years, and it’s an easy plant to look after that produces beautiful flowers that change from light green to pink to deep red as the season progresses.
I’m growing my Hydrangeas in large pots, but from experience, I know that they perform just as well in borders.
They prefer a spot with partial sunshine or a location with good morning sun that also offers protection during the afternoon when the sunlight is at its strongest.
While Hydrangeas require more water than most plants, especially when grown in pots, they are still one of the easiest plants to grow, and slugs and snails don’t eat them.
Below is a photo of my Hydrangea; it’s just starting to flower (early July) but should be in full swing in the next few weeks.
4) Hardy Geraniums
I’ve been growing these for six years, and some varieties attract bees and butterflies, but I’ve never seen damage from slugs and snails, so as far as I know, they are slug resistant.
Hardy geraniums are another plant that’s easy to grow; they don’t need tons of water or fertiliser and are mostly pest-free.
I’ve heard gardeners in the past refer to these Geraniums as a “classic” or “staple” of their garden, and for a good reason; they produce beautiful flowers well into autumn, come back every year and cover bare ground and space well.
There are hundreds of photos on Google Images.
Below is a photo of a Hardy Geranium in my border:
Often seen as a spring flowering bulb, some Alliums, such as the drumstick, will actually flower well into summer.
I love the large globed Alliums on tall stems (such as the Globemaster), and I’ve never heard of slugs or snails eating the leaves or the stems; they certainly left my Alliums alone.
Plant Alliums in late autumn and expect flowers in mid-spring, just after the daffodils and tulips.
Alliums are super easy to grow, you don’t need to lift the bulbs every year, they don’t need too much water (which can rot the bulbs) and they are mostly pest free.
Below is a photo collection of my Alliums, taken in late May:
A popular early flowering plant that produces carpets of blooms from late March through to May, you’ll find Aubrieta in many garden rockeries and in elevated sunny spots.
I’ve also seen Aubrieta planted in the top or sides of hollow walls where it’s allowed to cascade down the wall front, and just like the hardy geranium, you can cut in back hard towards the end of the growing season to encourage a second flush of growth.
Other than a yearly prune back with the shears, this plant requires no special attention and is generally bug and pest resistant; slugs certainly won’t eat on it.
Another easy, low-maintenance plant is catmint which flowers over a long season starting in late spring and ending in late summer.
Grow in a sunny spot with well-drained soil such as an elevated border, a rockery or lawn edging.
Avoid damp, shaded areas of the garden, and this plant will thrive with very little care.
I’ve previously grown Catmint but recently swapped it for lavender as they are very similar, and both are resistant to slugs and snails.
8) Hardy Fuschia
I’ve been growing Fuschias for as long as I can remember; in hanging baskets, in borders and pots, this is one of the easiest plants to grow, and the hardy variety will come back year after year.
Slugs and snails appear to leave this plant alone, and I’ve never heard of it being consumed by a slimy pest.
One of the other things I love about Fuschias is how easy they are to propagate; buy just one plant, and you can easily grow 10 or 15 from it.
9) Lambs Ear
Few plants are grown for how they feel, but Lambs Ear is an exception; the velvety soft, and woolly leaves are irresistible to humans but not to slugs who stay away well from them.
While grown primarily for its foliage, Lambs Ear will also produce small flowers in mid-summer and is perfect for covering space in partially-shaded parts of the garden, including under roses or other shrubs.
If you’re looking for a ground covering perennial that won’t attract slugs, try Lambs Ear.
Foxgloves can be perennial or biennial and are sometimes sold as annuals, but my preference is the perennials as they come back year after year, and I love the bell-shaped flowers which appear near the top of tall, swaying stems.
You’ve probably seen this plant in the wild as it can be found all over the country.
One of the most popular Foxgloves is Digitalis purpurea, a biennial that only flowers in the second year but does produce plenty of seeds that readily grow in the garden with little care needed.
Foxgloves pack a real punch in any border but are toxic if eaten, both to humans and to many animals, hence why slugs and snails don’t eat them.
11-20 (Annual Plants That Slugs Won’t Eat)
11) Annual Geraniums (Pelargoniums)
Not to be confused with perennial Hardy Geraniums, Pelargoniums are a completely different genus and are one of the most popular bedding plants in the UK.
Garden centres usually have rows of these on sale for several months of each year, and the good news is slugs generally avoid them. However, I have seen a few cases where slugs have had a nibble; these were young, tender plants and once fully grown, they resisted well.
Pelargoniums are easy to grow, require little maintenance and are mostly pest and disease-free.
I occasionally use these plants to fill space between my shrubs and other perennials, and they look lovely in hanging baskets and window boxes.
This is a very detailed guide to growing Pelargoniums, and the comments section is a real gold mine of helpful answers.
Snapdragons are renowned for their ability to resist pests and diseases and are ridiculously easy to grow.
Plant in a sunny spot, deadhead to encourage further blooms, stake tall varieties and water/feed regularly, that’s it.
I prefer the taller Snapdragons, which can reach up to one metre, but the smaller, compact varieties are just beautiful.
These plants are often found in cottage gardens, deep borders and even large containers.
Expect plenty of flowers from June through to October and not a slug in sight as they don’t eat Snapdragons.
13) Annual Begonias
Annual Begonias have thick rubbery leaves that most slugs ignore unless they’re desperate, but in most cases, they will move to other plants that have thinner leaves.
Begonias prefer a cooler spot in the garden with partial sun and are ideally suited to baskets and containers but will also perform well in borders.
Often seen as a little old fashioned, these plants aren’t as popular as they once were, but their resistance to slugs hasn’t diminished, so give them a try.
14) Annual Campanula
Informally known as a Bellflower, the Campanula genus contains over 500 species, including annuals, biennials and perennials.
Alpine species grow up to 5cm, while those from more temperate climates can reach 2 metres.
I’ve found that slugs and snails may nibble on young tender plants, but they won’t eat them once they’ve matured.
15) Busy Lizzies
Busy Lizzies fell out of favour around 10 years ago due to a disease called Downy Mildew, but new disease-resistant cultivars are one sale, so they’re back in fashion.
Slugs will devour young tender Busy Lizzies so they will need some protection until they are established and more resistant.
I’ve put Busy Lizzies into the “will eat but only if there’s nothing else” category as they’re not 100% slug-proof.
There are over 500 species of potentilla, and most are perennial, but some are annuals and biennials.
Potentilla produces masses of 5-petalled flowers over a long flowering season and can be found in rockeries, amongst perennials and shrubs in borders and ground covering varieties can be grown along the edges of paths and driveways.
As a somewhat shrubby plant, Potentilla isn’t a favourite for slugs who mostly ignore its thick leaves or firm stems.
Potentilla is easy to grow, undemanding and generally pest-free.
17) California Poppies
Another fast-growing plant with a long flowering season is the California Poppy, a popular wildflower that will grow up to 45cm high.
While some are perennials, many are either short-lived or are sold as annuals. All produce seeds that are likely to germinate without any help, so deadhead to prevent it from spreading.
California Poppies prefer a sunny spot in well-drained soil. There’s no need to fertilise or over-water these plants but don’t grow them in shaded, damp areas of the garden as they are susceptible to disease if not grown in ideal conditions.
Slugs won’t eat California Poppies so add these low-maintenance plants to your list.
Nasturtiums can be bushy, cascading or climbing, but this versatile plant is primarily used as a spiller in hanging baskets and window troughs, although it’s equally at home in pots and borders.
Slugs leave this plant alone once it’s established, but there’s one thing to be aware of; Nasturtiums are often used as a trap crop to draw aphids away from fruits and vegetables, so expect lots of flying pests.
The good news is that bees, butterflies and other pollinators love them too, and they make lovely cut flowers.
Interesting fact: Nasturtiums can be eaten and have a peppery taste.
Part of the Asteraceae family, Bidens are typically short-lived perennials that are sold as annuals; they grow up to 30cm tall and produce daisy-like flowers from June to August that are 3-4cm across.
Grown in full sun in well-draining soil, these plants will be pest and disease-free and should cope well with drought conditions.
Grow in borders and patio containers; you can also easily propagate by seed or cutting.
Slugs won’t eat these plants, so add them to your list.
20) Annual Trailing Fuschias
Fuschias are one of the easiest plants to grow, they don’t like dried soil and a little fertiliser can give them a boost, but otherwise, they require very little maintenance.
I have Fuschia perennials in my garden, and they come back each year without any overwintering care. I’ve also grown giant trailing Fuschias from tubs and hanging baskets as they look more sturdy than petunias which can go very leggy and floppy quickly.
I’ve never had an issue with slugs in any of my Fuschias, and as they’re so versatile, you have lots of options:
- Grow as a perennial.
- Plant in borders.
- Train them to grow upright as a shrub.
- Grow trailing annual varieties from baskets and containers.
21-25 (Other Plants That Slugs Won’t Eat)
22) Ornamental Grasses
25) Heuchera (Coral Bells)
5 Plants to Avoid – Slugs Love Devouring These Plants
There are many plants that slugs eat, but the following are infamous delicacies you should avoid if your garden is prone to slugs.
If you plant these, more slugs will be attracted to the garden and you may experience more damage on nearby plants.
As a general rule of thumb, Hostas are the ultimate all-you-can-eat buffet for slugs, and in almost all cases, you’ll need a plan to prevent the slugs from devouring the leaves.
The best place for a Hosta is in an elevated container with some contraptions and barriers to stop the slugs.
This is one of my favourite plants, and it’s soul-destroying to dig up the tubers every year, overwinter them and nurture them back to growth only to see the slugs devour them, often in one sitting.
I’ll always love dahlias, but they aren’t the easiest plant to grow; they often need overwintering and splitting, they should be staked to protect from the wind, and slugs just love them. I’ve even witnessed slugs bypass many other plants that would normally gorge on just to reach the dahlias, so be warned!
These annuals are so tasty that some gardeners use them as bait to attract slugs so they can pick them off and kill them.
Marigolds are one of the most popular annual bedding plants, but they’re adored by slugs who will even climb up walls and onto hanging baskets to get to them.
If you have issues with slugs in your garden, give Marigolds a miss.
Another annual that slugs love to eat is petunia which needs very little introduction.
It’s fairly easy to keep slugs out of hanging baskets but less so with petunias grown in borders as the slimy pest loves devouring this popular plant.
A popular plant that children often grow, sunflowers attract lots of slugs, and they’re particularly vulnerable when they’re young, although slugs will climb high up the plant too.
Sunflowers are often grown against a sunny wall or fence, which provides the slugs with plenty of ways to reach the leaves.
Avoid growing sunflowers in gardens prone to slug infestations.
The Best Slug Deterrents
We’ve listed the best slug killers and deterrents here. Go check it out, it includes natural predators and organic solutions for those of you that want to avoid using nasty chemicals.
One final tip: Slugs often target resistant plants when they are young and tender, so protect your plants during the early growth period and don’t give up should the slugs attack. They may leave the plants alone once they’re established.
Are slug pellets safe for pets, wildlife and children?
Slug pellets that contain Metaldehyde are harmful to cats, dogs, hedgehogs and dozens of other animals. Ferric phosphate pellets are far less toxic, and unlike Metaldehyde which has been detected in drinking water, they do not easily dissolve in water.
What is the average slug lifespan?
There are many species of slugs but in the UK, most slugs reach maturity at age one and live for between two and three years.
How many eggs do slugs lay?
Slugs and snails lay between 30 and 60 eggs around 30 days after mating. This may happen up to 6 times a year.
When are slugs active?
Slug activity depends on the weather and conditions. Most slugs burrow underground in the winter when the temperature drops below 5°. Slugs are most active from April to October and when it’s wet and damp.
How many slugs are there in my garden?
The average garden will contain between 100 and 200 slugs for every cubic metre of soil.
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