Hosta are shade-lovers and as such are a welcome addition to gardens underneath trees, along the wooded edges of your landscape, or tucked beneath shrubs in dark gardens. The vibrant foliage of the chartreuse varieties will light up your gardens from spring through autumn, so long as you learn how to control the main enemy of all Hosta plants: slugs. After the first beautiful flush of spring blooming, these nasty slimy creatures arrive with hot summer temperatures and eat ugly holes in Hosta leaves.

Falling for Foliage

There are all kinds of homegrown ways to control slugs. My personal favorite is filling an empty tuna fish can with beer and placing it under large Hosta, like “Key West”—the slugs love beer and will crawl in and are soon dead-drunk—or you can put coffee grounds around the base of your plants, a texture that slugs do not like. Since slugs love water and piles of decomposing plant debris, keep your gardens as clean as possible and water plants in the morning so your beds have time to dry out before nightfall.

Falling for Foliage

The truth is that despite the slugs, Hosta are incredibly easy to grow and will survive for generations. The large foliage and varying textures of Hosta leaves—some ruffled, some heart or sword-shaped—are far more beautiful than the slender purple or white flowers that appear on the plants in mid-to late-summer. Hosta can also be easily divided and passed along to friends or neighbors. These foliage plants are spectacular performers for fall gardens and will remain a vivid presence in Cape gardens all the way to October.

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Susan Dewey is the associate publisher and editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. She lives in Centerville on Cape Cod and enjoys gardening, sailing, walking on the beach, gallery hopping, cooking with fresh seafood, and exploring Cape Cod and the Islands from shore to shore.

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