The variety available today in Hostas is a major league kick in the plants! I still like some of the older established varieties best like Krossa Regal or Sum and Substance or Sieboldiana Elegans that make a real impact in color, texture and size for a shady part of the garden. There are a number of introductions over the past 10 years that are great including a couple favorites of mine like Great expectations and Spilt Milk, as new introductions arrive on the scene every year.
The big problem for most people is when we get into summer, it becomes a “slugfest” to keep slugs from making swiss cheese of the foliage. The first best solution in my mind is to make the area inhospitable to slugs. Slugs like to hang out in dark moist areas during the day and come out after dark while you’re sleeping to do their damage. They hide out under debris, mulch, rocks, timbers during the day. Take away their hiding spots in close proximity to your Hostas. If you must have mulch around your Hostas, pull it away from the base of the plants and don’t pile it on……1 inch of mulch will do! Once you’ve limited their daytime hiding areas, a good natural means of control is using copper strips around your Hostas. When a slug comes in contact with copper it’s Hosta La Vista baby! Sand is a great choice too, as a soft bodied insect crawling over sand does a lot of damage to their underside. They react like you do when you go to the beach and try to walk barefoot through really hot sand. I like to cut up strips of dark colored roofing shingles and use them around the base of Hostas, it creates a border or physical moat they don’t want to cross. I think these physical “organic” methods work well with out having to resort to killer controls. A little bit of “bug-wiser” will help you outsmart them. Forget the beer in a dish method, save the beer for yourself! It does work however as the nasty little slugs fall into the dish drunk, lose their car keys and die happy.
In regards to purchased controls, I like to use Iron Phosphate which is safe to use with pets and wildlife around. The brand I use is called “Sluggo.” Use 1 teaspoon per 1 square yard of space. If you use the conventional Metaldehyde products like Bug-Geta, place them under a garden ornament with an opening that slugs can crawl in to protect pets and wildlife. Sometimes an inverted pot can do the trick with a small opening at ground level. Put up a vacancy sign and it’s Hosta La Vista baby!