Seed Swaps

Can plants recover from total slug damage?

21 Aug 2011
Overcast 17°C / 63°F

My Eupatoruim (must get used to calling it Eutrochium) was completely eaten by slugs, as was the helenium. Will this have killed them or will they return next spring?

This year our dreadful gales and rains stopped us being able to walk on many areas of the soil (heavy clay) to deal with slugs daily so none of their leaves lasted more than a night.

In the past even the worst damaged plants have always had at least a few leaves survive to feed the plant, but not this year so I’m unsure if I should leave them in hope or replace them now with something that will settle over winter. My worry is that if they are not using up the water in the soil then it will simply be rotting the roots and the slugs will be eating them underground as well now.

Any advice, esp. from experience, greatly appreciated.




I would think they would be OK. While I have not grow either of the plants you mention, it is often the practice with many perennials to cut them hard back about this time of year to remove tired looking leaves and encourage fresh growth. The problem is that the slugs might eat any new growth as it appears.

I have a young perennial growing in a pot that was eaten to the ground by slugs but is now making fresh growth – but I have moved the pot to a place of safety so the slugs can’t get to it.

However, if slugs have done this once. they will no doubt do it again, so I think your real question is: are these the right plants for you to be growing or would you be better with something the slugs will leave alone?

Posted on 22 Aug 11 (almost 5 years ago)

Thanks for your reply.
My main worry is that they never even had a first flush of leaves long enough to get the sun into them. I think I’ll dig them up and put them in pots where I can keep an eye on them next Spring, though hopefully we won’t get such ongoing freak weather again otherwise I will have to give up on both plants.

Normally they only have a little bit of manageable slug damage but the months of wet has meant an explosion in the slug population and a whole area of the garden that wasn’t walkable on, so there was lots of lush growth to protect the slugs from the few hot days so they ate night and day unhindered.

Even the hedgehog couldn’t reduce the numbers though goodness knows he tried (squishing most of my seedlings in the process). The usual beer traps were also inaccessible over the clay soil and though we used nematodes in Spring this is the 1st year the population recovered hugely in April and May with all the moisture and overcast days. After that is was a losing battle. we had a whole moth’s worth of rain in a single day one month, twice! It’s a miracle half my plants weren’t washed away in the rivers of water flowing down the street. Very hand though for all the things that were transplanted to my ericaceous beds – I haven’t had to water tham all summer.

So ironic that we’ve all spent the last few years needing to learn about drought gardening and just as we get the hang of it we need to learn about flood gardens. At least now I can see which plants are survivors in both extremes.

Posted on 22 Aug 11 (almost 5 years ago)

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