Holey Hosta Batman! How We Saved Our Hostas From Slugs!

1 Material
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This post kicks off a 3-part series on low-maintenance/sustainable gardening. The side of our house doesn't get a lot of sun, so we planted shade tolerant hostas and ground cover to fill in that area and crowd out weeds. The hostas have filled in beautifully over the years, but by mid summer they are all torn to shreds and have more holes than swiss cheese.

Batman may be resigned to fighting thugs, but we were tired of fighting slugs and wanted to put a stop to their reign of crime once and for all. We tried every environmentally friendly thing from eggshells to diatomaceous earth to no avail, until we finally found the answer: copper! Excuse the bad pun, but just like commissioner Gordon of Batman fame, a little 'copper' goes a long way to fighting crime.
Last year we ran an experiment: we wrapped pure copper wire mesh around the bases of half our hostas and left the other half as-is. We had read that copper repels snails and slugs because they don't like to touch it. We thought it would be worth a try - and who doesn't love a pest-control product that's non-toxic and sustainable!
Copper mesh; source: http://www.leevalley.com
By the end of the summer, the hostas we wrapped with copper were hole-free as compared to the others that weren't (you can see the large hosta in the foreground below has several holes in the leaves). 'Hosta' la vista, slugs! Overall, even the ones we didn't wrap had less slug damage than usual.
This year we put the copper around all our hostas. We could have wrapped the mesh around the entire garden, but only the hostas tend to get eaten so we only used it around those. If you do decide wrap an entire garden, push some bamboo steaks into the ground at equal intervals to act as a support to wrap the copper around.

It's easier to wrap the hostas first thing in the spring when they are just peaking through the earth. You can also do it this time of year, but you'll probably need another set of hands to hold back the foliage while you wind the mesh around the base and secure it.

We dug a shallow trench around each plant and buried the mesh below the soil so that nothing could sneak down under it. We pinched the ends together and crimp them closed; that seemed to hold them in place all season last year.

UPDATE: hubs' friend read this post and suggested that she has used copper pennies to combat slugs. Unfortunately pennies are no longer being minted in Canada, but if you have some kicking around they may be worth a try too!
We LOVE how the hostas look at the side of our house in the spring and summer months:
'Hosta' la vista, slugs!
Saving our hostas make us feel like superheros and now we get to enjoy our them hole-free through the entire season (which sadly isn't too long in Canada)!
For more garden inspiration check out the following posts: How to build trellises and privacy screens:
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Suggested materials:

  • Copper mesh   (Lee Valley)

Birdz of a Feather
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

3 of 11 questions
  • Peggy Koenig Peggy Koenig on May 03, 2018

    I am determined to save my hostas this year. What size mesh and where do you buy it? I live in Wisconsin. Thank you 🙏

  • Vicki Vicki on Aug 14, 2018

    I'm a midwester, could you please tell me what "grits" are?


    p.s. I use shaved soap around my hostas and the deer leave them alone. Just take a bar of hand soap (we have lots as we switched to liquid 'soap' to keep all the new bathroom finishes spotless) and a potato peeler and simply pare-off slices of soap which land around and in front of the plants, as you walk along your plant beds. Sooooooo easy!

  • Charisse Davis Charisse Davis on Mar 24, 2019

    What is that white powdery substance on the hosta plants.


Join the conversation

4 of 33 comments
  • Jere Howard Jere Howard on Aug 07, 2017
    It takes a lot. I don't have any snails or slugs in my collard greens either. Start putting the crushed eggshells in now. Some of my friends use the pie plate tin full of beer. If you have a lot of snails, you may want to try and get rid of as many as you can before next year. But the best tip I got was the grits for ants. Fire ant got into my veg garden. Can't use poison, so a master gardener told me about the grits. Have to sprinkle several times, but it's will get rid of them. Hope this helps.

    • See 1 previous
    • Gabrielle Falk Gabrielle Falk on Jun 07, 2020

      I'm from Sydney, Australia. Is cornmeal, slightly gritty or have a semi-rough texture? You can use any gritty product. You could also try sand, as slugs/snails need to SLIDE. Don't use beach sand, as that won't do much for your plants, nor your soil. Sand that is used in construction, or anything else that you can think of, that won't hurt the bugs themselves. Use a deterrent, not a poison. Because you don't really know what bird will ingest that slug or snail, that has eaten the poison, and ergo, the bird also ingests the poison. It's a total chain reaction.

  • Gabrielle Falk Gabrielle Falk on Jun 07, 2020

    Tell the slugs ....NO...