Designers List of Shade Plants for Root Weevil Resistance
I wanted to write a blog about shade plants for root weevil resistance. Root weevil disfigure so many shade garden plants and can make a garden look ravaged. It’s disappointing to see hosta and other plant leaves looking all chewed up. Can we design a shade garden with beauty and style without using root weevil favorite snack plants?
“Well HELL that’s not much of a shade garden” is what I said when I thought about eliminating all the plants root weevil like to eat. I was disappointed in the tiny number of plants that would work and wandered off to write about something different, something a bit cheerier!!!! However, I’ve been thinking about it and yes, we have some great plants we can use.
Aucuba, Daphne and Fatsia are not root weevil favorites and if you select the variegated forms the notching doesn’t show as much. To be specific, Daphne odora ‘Marginata’, Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’, and Aucuba japonica ‘ Gold Dust’ are varieties that I recommend.
I have never seen much leaf damage on our Native Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) probably because the leaves are so tiny.
Three Root Weevil Resistant Rhododendron for Part Shade
I’ve found the official lists less than helpful since most Rhododendron listed are sun lovers. Root weevil prefer part shade to shade.
Rhododendron ‘Clipiense’ is my best weevil resistant compact rhododendron for shadier situations. This rhody has fine hairs on the leaves so root weevil rarely bother it. It’s a slower growing variety and can take more shade than the other two I have listed but not deep shade.
Rhododendron ‘Fred Peste’ is a compact red rhododendron. Fred does well in morning sun and afternoon shade, although he can take more sun than average.
Rhododendron ‘Blue Diamond’ can take full sun but does well in full am sun and afternoon shade. It can get taller than wide.
Sword fern (Polystichum munitum) has a fuzzy frond (leaf) and root weevil don’t eat fuzzy leaves typically. Most fuzzy fronded ferns will be root weevil resistant and are an important player in a root weevil free planting.
Hellebores are typically safe from weevil once they are mature plants. When the soft and munchable new leaves unfurl in February the root weevil have not hatched yet (here in Portland) so are not present until late April or May. The harder leafed hellebores like Helleborus argutifolius seem particularly impervious.
Oregon Oxalis (Oxalis oregana) doesn’t seem to get a lot of weevil attention in my gardens and it is fun to add to salads. Same with our native piggy back plant Tolmiea menziesii. It has hairy leaves and is great for shade. For Saxifraga varieties, use the hairy leaved varieties for weevil resistance, the smoother ones are on the weevil munch list. Hardy geranium varieties that smell like cedar and have a fuzzy leaf are 100% weevil resistant – Geranium macrorrhizum for deep to moderate shade and Geranium x cantabrigiense for part sun areas. Another good bet is Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum)
Last but not least, Euphorbia Rob’s spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae) is a tough evergreen ground covering shade plant. I consider it a thug but it’s great to use in gardens where I have a path that doubles as barrier to their creeping roots. This plants roots must be contained or it will march right over your hostas. I’ve never seen any root weevil damage on this plant.
Know Thy Enemy?
Root Weevil have no natural predator here in the Pacific Northwest so it’s rare to find a shade garden without them. We can cut the population of root weevil down to tolerable numbers and thus get our beautiful shade garden back. Read my blog “Attack of the Root Weevils” to learn what can be done to reduce their population in your garden.