Growing Hostas in Canada

(Question)

I have just returned to the u.k. after visiting a friend who lives near Guelph in Ontario. I was amazed by the size and quality of hostas in most gardens. There was no evidence of slugs. In the u.k. I have tried growing these many times in pots or directly into soil and every year they get eaten by slugs. I have tried many kind of pesticides all to no avail. I do know that in Canada pesticides are banned – my friend suggested a saucer of beer – thats what she uses. Have spoken to many people since returning to the u.k. and they can’t account for the hostas looking so brilliant in Canada.
It may seem a silly thing to ask you but do you have slugs as pests like we do? I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate the time you take to read this and reply.

(Answer)

 

We do love our Hostas here in Canada.  These dependable, easy care perennials grace Canadian gardens from coast to coast as they are not put off a bit by our extreme temperatures.  In fact this may be one of our greatest allies in our struggle with slugs.  Yes!  We do have our share of slugs here in Canada, but they prefer warm moist conditions and often we have prolonged periods of very hot dry weather – deadly to slugs.  A thorough fall clean up, and removal of old leaves and mulch from around our hostas will mean that there is no protection for the slugs from the extremely cold winters.

Of course many times the weather does favour the slugs and in these seasons our gardeners bring out a variety of remedies.  Beer traps are a good way to control them if the thought of hand picking leaves you cold. Another option is copper tape, which slugs and snails do not like to cross. Diatomaceous earth, coffee grounds, course sand, salt, wood ash, or crushed up eggshells sprinkled around the base of the plants are other options that are often mentioned as being effective.  There are some commercial slug baits available, but they often contain metaldehyde, which can cause kidney damage in kids and pets. Varieties containing iron phosphate are less harmful. Also remember that birds dine on slugs, and will ingest the poison too.   A better solution may be to look for one of the new hybrid “slug resistant” varieties of Hosta.  I am sure that they are also available in the U.K.   Here is a link to an article in one of our Canadian gardening magazines that you might find interesting.  Good luck with your Hostas!

https://www.canadiangardening.com/plants/perennials/20-hot-hosta-cultivars/a/29608