6 Animals, Insects & Rodents Which Eat & Destroy Hostas
If you’ve chosen to delve into the world of the herbaceous perennials, at least one variety of the Hosta plant has probably been added to your landscaping. Unfortunately, keeping them healthy and, well, present, can also be the cause of many a headache.
To help you maintain healthy and full Hosta plants as organically as possible, here are some ways you can prevent damage caused by the most common pests Hosta plants face.
Grazing deer focus on the leaves, leaving behind the stalk. A common problem for Hosta gardeners, deer appear to be especially attracted to the more aromatic varieties. Consequently, one of the easier ways not to attract deer to your Hosta plants is to avoid the more scented versions.
Other ways to ward off these unwanted garden scavengers is with an extra strong metal or plastic fence at least 8-10’ high (remember, deer are jumpers) or with a wireless deer fencing system.
You can also try organic animal repellents that use non-toxic ingredients to deter the deer before they get close enough to get a taste.
Several insects will make snacks of your Hosta plants. Unfortunately, unless you catch them in the act, it is extremely difficult to discern exactly which type (or types) are doing the deed.
To guard younger Hosta plants against cutworms, enclose the new leaves with a physical obstruction. A good choice (an inexpensive one) is creating a mini fence with a ring of cardboard. Once the newer leaves have grown several inches up from the ground, remove the rings.
For larger pests like beetles and grasshoppers, you may have to go “hunting” and remove them by hand after you catch them in the act. To accomplish this, you’ll need to stay up late, have a good flashlight, and not be averse to smashing the little critters into smithereens.
If you are desperate, there are several broad-spectrum pesticides available at your local garden or DIY store. Caution though, these will also eradicate the helpful insects as well, so use with discretion.
Rabbit season for Hosta plants is mostly in the springtime. You can spot signs of rabbits by looking for clean-cut cropping of the younger stems and leaves plus the distinct round droppings they leave behind. Rabbits appear to prefer the young, tender offshoots that appear during spring. A non-toxic way to help deter nibbling rabbits is to sprinkle cayenne pepper on the leaves.
Slugs and Snails
These nocturnal mollusks love to feast on Hosta leaves. If you think you might have a slug or snail problem, inspect your plants for smooth but uneven holes between the veins of the leaves or at the leaves’ edges. Additionally, they will leave behind shiny slime trails on the ground around the plants, and on the plants themselves.
Slugs and snails like cooler, moist, and dark environments, like those found underneath mulch and ground cover. You can reduce the risk of attracting them by keeping dead plant material trimmed and disposed of. To further deter them from turning your Hosta plants into a buffet, consider trying a home remedy like sprinkling dried and crushed egg shells, coffee grounds or Epsom salt around each plant. You can also create a beer trap around the plants.
If you have noticed any toads or garter snakes on your property, leave them alone. They will help you out in your fight against the hungry mollusk.
Squirrels aren’t as commonly thought of as pests for Hosta plants, however, during times of drought they may turn to the leaves as a water source, or dig up the plants. Sprinkling cayenne pepper on the leaves will help deter them the same way it deters rabbits.
Voles, or meadow mice, like to dig into soil similarly to that of moles. This tunneling can make it difficult to see them or tell where they are coming from.
Unfortunately, you probably won’t know you have a problem until you see the results in the damaged plants. Be on the lookout for plants that are wilted or missing their roots. To prevent damage to your plants and the rest of your yard, you’ll need to take some steps to deter these pesky critters.
Start by removing as many weeds and other unneeded plants and debris from the area.
Then, make sure you keep your lawn trimmed as short as possible without causing permanent damage to the sod.
You can also bury cylinders of steel mesh around the plants that rise above the surface several inches then take a cue from the rabbit and squirrel treatments, and spray a very spicy sauce, like capsaicin onto the leaves and around the plants.
Keep Your Garden Green and Your Hosta Plants in One Piece
Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with any pest problems in your landscaping, but if you do, try the techniques we’ve mentioned above to help keep them healthy and full.