- Common Problems With Hostas
- Common Hosta Pests
- Common Hosta Diseases
- The Best homemade solution for Hostas Care
- Slugs ruining your hosta plants? 10 smart ways to prevent them
- 15 Homemade Organic Gardening Sprays and Concoctions That Actually Work
- Extremely Invasive ‘Hostas’ with Extensive Roots
Common Problems With Hostas
Hosta plants are popular perennials grown for their foliage. Generally, these carefree plants, which thrive in shady locations, suffer from few problems. However, occasional problems with hostas do occur, so knowing what to look for is important in order to treat or prevent further hostas problems.
Common Hosta Pests
What causes holes in hosta leaves? This is one of the most common questions associated with hosta plants. Essentially when bugs are eating hostas, slugs or snails are usually to blame. These nighttime foragers are probably considered the most common of hosta pests, eating small holes in the leaves. Silvery-colored slime or snail trail throughout the garden area is a good indication of their presence. Control of these slugs may include the use of beer traps, which they crawl into and die.
Another insect pest that chews hosta leaves is the adult black vine weevil. Signs of this insect are irregular notches along the outer edges of leaves. Their larvae also pose a problem by feeding on the crown and roots of hosta plants, resulting in yellow, wilted foliage.
Nematodes, which are microscopic roundworms, typically cause disease by infecting hosta plants much like fungi or bacteria. As with fungal infections, they thrive in moist conditions. Nematodes often feed within the leaves, producing brown areas between the veins, which result in an almost striped appearance. This generally occurs in late summer. Affected plants should be destroyed. You can prevent most nematode attacks by providing adequate spacing between plants, avoiding wet foliage through the use of soaker hoses, and removing and destroying all infected plants.
Think just bugs are eating hostas? Think again. Deer and rabbits will oftentimes feast on hosta plants. In fact, deer may leave only stalks where beautiful hosta foliage once was while rabbits usually prefer nibbling on the young shoots.
Common Hosta Diseases
Anthracnose is one of the most common diseases affecting hosta plants. This fungal disease thrives in warm, wet weather. The most obvious sign of anthracnose includes large, irregular spots surrounded by a dark border. Once the centers of the spots fall out, the leaves may look torn and can sometimes be mistaken for pest damage. As with nematode prevention, try to keep good distance between plants and avoid overhead watering which results in wet foliage. The use of fungicide spray in spring may be helpful as well. However, look for those that specifically target this disease.
Another fungus that affects hosta plants is Sclerotium blight. This disease first targets the lower leaves but then quickly spreads to the upper ones causing a path of wilted, brown leaves. In addition, there is usually a fluffy, white mass on the petioles. This particular fungus is difficult to control, as it lives in the soil and overwinters beneath mulch. Therefore, it often helps to pull back any mulch from the plant.
Crown rot also affects hostas and is often caused by overly wet situations. This disease usually results in yellow foliage, stunted growth, and root rot.
The Best homemade solution for Hostas Care
Spring has sprung and now is the perfect time to think about hostas care. Put this homemade mixture on any plant, bush or grass and it will thrive!
I Love Hostas! I think they are my favorite plant because they are soooo easy to grow and they look so beautiful in my yard. Hostas really don’t need much to make them look and I’m not the only one that loves my Hostas, so do the bugs : (
Every year about this time my Hostas start to look like Swiss cheese because they become full of holes and just sick looking, or the leaves start to turn brown, but thankfully I have a home remedy that all plants seem to Love but the bugs Hate : )
My mother-in-law gave me this home remedy a long time ago and I just can’t get over how simply it is and how Great it works. I have used this home remedy for all my plants, bushes and trees, I have even used this on my lawn and it works Great!
Sprayer that attaches to hose
1 cup of Listerine Mouthwash (original)
1 cup of Epsom Salt
1 cup Ammonia
1 cup Ajax Dish soap (lemon is what I use) YOU CAN USE ANY DISH SOAP
First add the mouthwash, Epson salt and ammonia to the sprayer container, stir, then top off the container with the dish soap, give it a little stir. Place top back onto the container and hook up to the hose.
Simply water your plants as usual. This remedy is safe enough to use on a weekly bases if you wish, I found that once a month is plenty. Any unused mix can be stored for the next use.
Not only does this home remedy kill the bugs, it also provides your plants some much need nutrients and you will quickly see a big difference in your plants, trees and bushes.
The best time to split Hostas is in the fall.
If you do split a Hostas in the spring or summer you can help it along by simply cutting the leaves down to the roots. The leaves will quickly grow back and this will help the to Hosta thrive.
Also if you cut the flower stem off as they begin to grow (I really don’t like the way the Hosta looks with this flower stem) this will also help the Hostas to thrive.
Slugs ruining your hosta plants? 10 smart ways to prevent them
Slugs ruining your hosta plants? 10 smart ways to prevent them
We all know it is hard enough to keep our hostas flourishing and healthy without the added stress of worrying about slugs getting out of control and destroying them.
While slugs are common pests, they are often destructive and annoying. Some of their favorite foods are hosta leaves, and they will eat entire leaves or leave behind small holes, diminishing the beauty of your garden.
Slugs need moisture to survive; so, they prefer dark, damp areas. If you have a lot of rain in your area, slugs are likely a big concern for you. They often come out at night or under cloud cover. So, we don’t see them right away until the damage has already been done.
If slugs are a problem to your hostas, here are ten ways to help prevent them from destroying your beautiful garden! Keep Those Slugs Away with These Easy Tips
Try these simple suggestions to prevent slug damage to your hostas. Permanent Solutions
The only way to get rid of the slug problem is, simply put, to get rid of the slugs. Here are a couple of solutions that will stop the slugs…well…dead in their tracks!
- Coffee really is a fix for everything! Most of us drink coffee in the mornings anyway, but don’t throw away those coffee grounds! Instead, sprinkle them on the ground around your hostas. The caffeine in them is actually deadly to slugs. When they crawl over the coffee grounds, they will absorb the caffeine into their system, which will eventually kill them.
- Invest in some slug eliminator products. Since slugs are such a massive problem worldwide, causing severe damage to million-dollar crop industries, there are a lot of products out there to stop the slug problem at the root. Target, Home Depot, Walmart and other departmental stores carry an extensive range of slug eliminators.
However, you will want to do some research before you choose this route. Some of these products can be harmful to your lawn, the environment, or other animals you may have.
- Slugs like to drink beer. No, really, they do. Slugs are very attracted to beer, so create a beer trap for them.
To do this, take a small, very shallow container (about an inch high) and bury it in the ground near your hostas, then fill it with beer. This will attract the slugs and they will fall into the container and drown. But they will drown happily.
- Contribute to the circle of life. Make a do-it-yourself birdfeeder, or buy a few. Keeping birdhouses around will attract birds, who love to eat slugs. This is a natural way to solve your slug problem, and you will have the added pleasure of being able to do some bird-watching, which is always enjoyable.
Other, Less Permanent Solutions
Maybe you are one of the many who would prefer a more compassionate solution to slug control. Don’t despair – there are many options, although they could be a little long-term.
- Sprinkle some Epsom salt. Place a ring of salt around wherever you want to keep the slugs out of, and they will avoid that area.
- Eggshells will work, too. Similar to coffee grounds but less harmful, use your leftover eggshells to deter pesky slugs from your hostas.
Place your eggshells in a baggie or other container, crush them lightly, and distribute around your plants. Since the eggshells cut the slugs’ sensitive skin, they will reach the barrier and then avoid it, leaving your hostas safe and sound.
- Choose your hostas wisely. There are actually slug-resistant hostas available. These plants have naturally thicker leaves, which are harder for slugs to eat.
Rest assured, you don’t have to sacrifice color or fragrance for efficiency, either. Many of the slug-resistant hostas are still vibrantly colored, beautifully shaped, and deliciously fragrant.
- Pick them off yourself. For those who want to get down and dirty and fix the problem, there is the old saying, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
When you know the slugs are in their active feeding time, generally in the evening, take a flashlight and a bucket and (with or without gloves, your choice) pick them off by hand one at a time. Then you have a less humane option of using a bucket of soapy water to drown the slugs.
- Give them a “jolt” to remind them to leave! Place a strip of copper wire around your hostas, or invest in a copper mesh fencing around those problem areas. The copper gives off a slight electric charge to the slug, who is full of moisture.
This doesn’t kill the slug, but definitely works as a strong deterrent!
- Put obstacles in their way. Something simple, like stone paths, makes a slug think twice about heading in the direction it was going. The bigger the obstacle, the stronger the deterrent.
There are many artificial and real stones and garden décor available that you can place around your hostas as a line of defense. Protect Your Hostas From Slugs Today!
Many of these solutions can be done simply and quickly. Go ahead and choose one, so when the slugs come out to feed tonight, they will have to find a new banquet because your hostas are off the menu!
15 Homemade Organic Gardening Sprays and Concoctions That Actually Work
Back when I started my first garden, a certain celebrity gardener and his books of gardening concoctions were all the rage. You could tell when it was fundraising time on our local PBS station because they’d have him live in the studio, telling us that all we had to do was use items such as baby shampoo, instant tea, and whiskey, and we’d be able to grow our best garden ever. Those claims seemed pretty far-fetched to me back then, and now that I know a little more, I know that several of those concoctions were either just plain bad ideas or that one item in his recipe was the one that was actually doing the work while the rest were either unnecessary or possibly harmful to plants, insects and other soil-dwelling organisms. So please know that my b.s. radar is at high alert when I see anything about homemade gardening sprays and the like. With that in mind, here are 15 homemade, organic solutions for garden problems. I use them, and they work. And not one of them requires you to pour whiskey on your plants.
1. Tomato Leaf Sprayis effective in killing aphids and mites. It works because the alkaloids in the tomato leaves (and the leaves of all nightshades, actually) are fatal to many insects.
2. Garlic Oil Spray is a great, safe insect repellent. Simply put three to four cloves of minced garlic into two teaspoons of mineral oil. Let the mixture sit overnight, and then strain the garlic out of the oil. Add the oil to one pint of water, and add a teaspoon of biodegradable dish soap. Store in a bottle or jar, and dilute the mixture when you use it by adding two tablespoons of your garlic oil mixture to one pint of water.
This mixture works because the compounds in garlic (namely, diallyl disulfide and diallyl trisulfide) are irritating or deadly to many insects. The oil and soap help the mixture stick to plant leaves. What insects does garlic oil repel? Whiteflies, aphids, and most beetles will avoid plants sprayed with garlic oil. A word of caution: don’t apply this spray on a sunny day, because the oils can cause foliage to burn.
3. Hot Pepper Spray is a great solution if you have problems with mites. Simply mix two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce, a few drops of biodegradable dish soap, and one quart of water and let it sit overnight. Use a spray bottle to apply the spray to infested plants.
Hot pepper spray works because the compound capsaicin, which causes the “heat” in hot peppers, is just as irritating to insects as it is to us (have you ever sliced a hot pepper and gotten any of it in an open cut? Ouch!) This mixture also helps repel whiteflies, but it may have to be reapplied if you start to see the mites or whiteflies returning.
4. Simple Soap Spray is useful in taking out a wide variety of garden pests, including aphids, scale, mites, and thrips. Just add one tablespoon of dishwashing soap to a gallon of water and spray the mixture on the pests.
Why does this work? The soap dissolves the outer coating or shell of the insects, eventually killing them.
5. Beer for the Slugs: sink a tuna can or pie plate into the ground, and add a couple of inches of beer, to about an inch below the top of the container. The slugs will go in for a drink and drown. Beer works because the slugs are attracted to the yeast. It’s really important to sink the container into the soil and keep the beer about an inch lower than the soil. This way, the slugs have to go down after the beer, and they drown. If the beer is near the soil, the slugs can just have a drink and then go and munch some hostas when they’re done with happy hour. 6. Citrus Rinds as Slug Traps. This works. If you don’t have beer in the house, but you do have oranges, grapefruits, or lemons, give this a try. 7. Newspaper Earwig Traps work well for reducing the population of these sometimes-pesky insects. 8. Soda Bottle Yellowjacket Traps work by attracting the yellowjackets away from seating or picnic areas, and then ensuring that they can’t escape the trap. 9. Red Pepper Spray works well for making your plants less tasty to mammal and bird pests. If bunnies, deer, mice, squirrels, and birds are regularly messing with your garden, make the following mixture and spray target plants weekly. Mix four tablespoons of Tabasco sauce, one quart of water, and one teaspoon of dish soap. The capsaicin in the pepper spray will irritate the animal pests, and they’ll look for less spicy fare elsewhere. Fungal Disease Solutions 10. Milk for Powdery Mildew. The milk works just as well as toxic fungicides at preventing the growth of powdery mildew. This mixture will need to be reapplied regularly, but it works wonderfully. 11. Baking Soda Spray for Powdery Mildew is a tried-and-true method for preventing powdery mildew. It needs to be applied weekly, but if you have a problem with mildew in your garden, it will be well worth the time. Simply combine one tablespoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of vegetable oil, one tablespoon of dish soap and one gallon of water and spray it on the foliage of susceptible plants. Baking soda spray works because the baking soda disrupts fungal spores, preventing them from germinating. The oil and soap help the mixture stick to plant leaves. Weeds 12. Vinegar works very well for weeds in your lawn and garden. The main issue with vinegar is that it can harm other plants. I recommend using a foam paintbrush to brush the vinegar directly onto the leaves of weeds you’re trying to kill. This prevents the vinegar from getting onto other plants and ensures that the entire leaf surface is coated with the vinegar. 13. Boiling Water for Sidewalk Weeds: Boil some water, and pour it over weeds in the cracks of your sidewalks or driveways. Most weeds can’t stand up to this treatment, and your problem is solved. Just be careful when pouring! 14. Vinegar and Salt for Sidewalk Weeds: I personally prefer pouring boiling water on sidewalk weeds, or pulling them. But if you have some really stubborn weeds, you can try diluting a few teaspoons of water into some white vinegar and pouring that onto your sidewalk weeds. Please note that this concoction will kill just about any plant it comes in contact with, so keep it away from your other plants, as well as your lawn. And the Best Homemade Garden Concoction of All 15. Compost! Seriously, whether you’re an apartment dweller with a fire escape farm or a rural farmer, you need to be making and using the stuff. It adds nutrients, improves soil structure, increases moisture retention, and increases the number of beneficial microbes in your soil. And that’s all besides preventing organic matter from making its way to the landfill. I hope these ideas for safe, homemade organic garden concoctions are helpful. By having just a handful of inexpensive items on hand, you can take care of most common gardening dilemmas in your own, green way. For more about greening your life, including your garden, watch Living With Ed on Planet Green.
Extremely Invasive ‘Hostas’ with Extensive Roots
I have a home in Eastern Long Island. This May I noticed most of the strawberries in my 1500 sq foot strawberry patch died and then there were large patches in my beds of lilies and day lilies that were bare except for hosta plants that had grown up in those places. At first I thought the voles had eaten the roots but I started digging and the soil was thick with matted roots which were connected to the hosta plants. It appeared as if the ‘hosta’ plants put out runners that were rapidly propagating hundreds of hosta plants that got really big really fast taking over the garden. The runners turned into huge roots (see photo). They would then send up runners where other plants were growing. They seemed to prefer irises, day lilies, strawberries, even ferns, anything with tuberous roots under the soil. The runners would then choke off and kill these plants. Thus the bald spots in my normally lush, verdant garden resulted from these ‘hosta’ roots killing them off. I tried pulling out the ‘hostas’ and they just snapped off like tinkertoys but leaving the masses of roots underneath (see photo). The hosta leaves had grown so quickly they had holes in them like something that has been cloned too many times. And the flowers also came early and seemed oddly mildly distorted. I checked the rest of my garden and found these roots in many places. As I tried to save some of the plants by teasing them out of the choking roots and runners, I found that I was often led to a small wood chip–as if the wood chip were the source of this mutant cloning/hosta/root problem. I remembered that we got mulch 2 years ago from the dump where they reprocess people’s branches and leaves. I am thinking now that perhaps the woodchips were contaminated with something that turned the hostas into killer hostas but not true hostas anymore.. I know this sounds crazy but check out the photos. Any ideas anyone?
The only other reference I have found anywhere is someone in the disease forum who had a ‘root’ problem but no hostas involved.
So far all I have done is try to rescue the plants that are being strangled and to try to dig up as many roots as I can but there are so many and so thick that I think they will just come back. I thought about using Round-up and then putting down landscaping cloth but I have about an acre of land and the roots go down about
6 to 12 inches into the soil. I imagine this couldn’t have happened overnight but now it’s going very fast.