The Q&A Archives: Dwarf Ornamental Grasses

Question: The garden at the front of our home contains several shrubs in the background (some evergreen and some not) with hostas in the foreground. I have tried everything to deter slugs from my hostas
but they getting eaten alive and are truly unsightly, so they are leaving!

I would like to replace them with a slug-resistent hosta (and how slug resistent are they really??) or
perhaps some small, red, ornamental grasses. I noticed in your 'library' you referred to Imperata Cylindrica 'Red Baron'. Does this grass stay small and compact or does it quickly get out of control? Is there anything else
in the grass or hosta family you could suggest? Our home is a medium gray color with white trim and a
black door.

Answer: Slugs can wreak havoc on hosta but they can be controlled. You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the soil surface around the plants, set out slug traps baited with beer, or put out commercial slug baits according to the label instructions. You can also hand pick them in the evening or at night and drop them into soapy or salty water.You can also encourage their predators (toads, snakes, and birds) and certainly avoid watering in the evening because this attracts slugs. There are some reputedly "slug resistant" hostas with thicker leaves, but if you have a bad slug problem then they will likely also suffer.

The "Red Baron" grass tolerates shade somewhat but actually is a sunlover. It stays small. Some other plants to consider for a shady location would be pulmonaria or ferns, for partial shade perhaps perennial geraniums, and for a sunnier location, sedums such as "Autumn Joy".

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