Slug resistant bedding plants

When it comes to having a colourful and attractive garden, it is all too easy to get carried away at your local garden centre and end up spending a small fortune on bedding plants. Of course it doesn't just stop at buying plants, there are the additional costs of composts, fertilizer, and then there's the hours and sometimes days of unpaid dedication and labour for planting up and ongoing maintenance.

Bedding plants
So it is perfectly understandable, after all the money has been spent and works completed, that the last thing you want is for your horticultural masterpiece to be reduced to tiny mounds of colorful, yet decaying ribbons. So what could cause possibly cause such heartfelt destruction? Nothing less that the persistent and pernicious ravenousness of slugs and snails!

There is a simple way break the cycle of damage caused to bedding displays by slugs and snails, and that is to cultivate those bedding plant species which they would prefer not to eat! Unfortunately there are are only a few genera to choose from. but this may be just enough to prevent you from going quite mad with mollusc-induced anger. Just remember that the following plants are slug and snail resistant, not proof!

1. Begonias

Slug resistant bedding plants - begonias
Bedding begonias, fibrous rooted and corm begonias are all well known for their lack of mollusc damage when all around them bedding plants are left devastated.

They all all considered to be tender perennials and are ideally suited to growing in containers and hanging baskets. Tuberous begonias can be lifted and overwinter, although in the milder regions of England and Ireland they have been know to survive in the ground, so long as they are not prone to waterlogging.

Fibrous-rooted, Begonia semperflorens are compact plants with attractive foliage. Depending on the cultivar the flowers can be white, pink or red and are produced throughout the summer until the first frosts. They are one of the few bedding plants that will grow satisfactory in partial shade.

2. Creeping Jenny

Slug resistant bedding plants - Lysimachia
There are a number of species and cultivars within the Lysimachia genus, arguably the most suitable as bedding are Lysimachia procumbens and Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'. They have a creeping, prostrate habit which makes them both popular choices for hanging baskets.

Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' is a very vigorous evergreen perennial which forms a wide mat of creeping stems. The leaves are small, rounded or ovate, golden-yellow. Over the summer, solitary, short-stalked, cup-shaped bright yellow flowers appear.

Lysimachia will grow well in full sun to semi-shade in any moist, well-drained soil.

3. Geraniums and pelargonium cultivars

Slug resistant bedding plants - geraniums and pelargoniums
Pelargonium species are drought and heat tolerant evergreen perennials originally included all the species in one genus, Geranium. They are indigenous to the temperate and tropical regions of the world, many of which are found in southern Africa.

Plant in a warm, sunny, sheltered location, and deadhead regularly to promote fresh blooms. The more compact erect and trailing varieties are also suitable for window boxes and hanging baskets.

Plant geraniums and pelargoniums in a sunny position in a well-drained soil. Avoid waterlogged conditions.

4. Fuchsias

Slug resistant bedding plants - fuchsias
The genus Fuchsia contains approximately 110 species of tropical or subtropical shrubs and small trees. The majority of which are native to South America. While there are plenty of 'hardy' fuchsias species and cultivars that have been proven to survive a number of winters throughout Britain and to be back in flower each year by July. It tends to be the frost tender cultivars that are used in bedding schemes.

They are categorised as upright and bushy, or trailing. Container grown plants will perform best in good quality, well drained compost such as John Innes No.3, grow in warm, bright conditions. Trailing fuchsias are particularly suitable for hanging baskets, window boxes and containers.

They can be grown outside in full sun or semi-shade although they will appreciate some shade during the hottest part of the day. They will perform well in any fertile, moist well-drained soil, but choose a position that offers shelter from cold, drying winds. Pinch out the growing tips while the thants are still small as this will promote bushier growth and more flowers

5. Busy-lizzie - Impatiens cultivars

Slug resistant bedding plants - busy-lizzie
Once the most popular of all bedding plants, the common busy-lizzie - Impatiens walleriana, had now waned in popularity due to the widespread incidence of Impatiens downy mildew. New Guinea bus-lizzies are now the prefered choice for commercial growers.

Although slug damage can be a little hit and miss, all species and cultivars are perennial in frost-free growing conditions, although they are usually treated as a half-hardy annual in British gardens.

Busy Lizzies enjoy sun or partial shade and require a damp but well-drained soil. Water in the morning to prevent the incidence of fungal infections and where possible water from the base to prevent the blooms becoming marked and damaged.

6. Gazanias

Slug resistant bedding plants - gazania
Becoming more popular as a summer bedding plant is the Gazania, a native to Southern Africa. They produce large, daisy-like flowers and are often planted as drought-tolerant groundcover.

They are grown for the brilliant colour of their flowerheads which appear in brilliant shades of yellow and orange, and ornamental leaves. Depending on the cultivar the foliage can range from a glossy dark-green to an eye catching silver. The blooms appear in the late spring and will often continue to flower throughout the summer into autumn. Be aware that the flowers will close in dull weather. They will need a sunny position to flower and will perform best in moist well-drained soils. Gazanias are also tolerant of poor soils.


The following list of bedding plants also are have good resistance to damage from slugs and snails. Although they tend to be less popular, they are still worth considering:

Bellis perennis, Cineraria maritima, Polyanthus, alyssum, antirrhinum, forget-me-not, Osteospermum and wallflowers. Even petunias can be surprisingly resilient although there is always a small percentage that will attract their attention.

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