A shady garden filled with hostas is a beautiful shelter in the summer heat. In order to maintain it in good condition, you need to work and protect plants from various pests. One of them will be discussed in this article.
Groundhogs eat the hosta and can cause irreparable damage. At the slightest sign of the presence of these rodents, you need to make sure that the hostas are safe.
First, let’s determine which animals eat hostas and how they do it. This is necessary in order to use the right tools.
Deer eat the leaves of hostas and do not touch the stems. This is their main difference from groundhogs.
Rabbits leave more similar damage. These animals eat the stems and a small part of the leaves. Unlike groundhogs, rabbits make precise cuts of petioles with sharp teeth, and part of the leaves are left around the hostas.
Groundhogs tear off the petioles with their paws, so the cuts are not neat. After their visit, the leaves usually do not remain; they eat everything. They can even dig up the rhizome and gnaw it.
Damage caused by rabbits and deer is not critical; the hosta will recover after a while. Groundhog can eat almost the whole plant, and you may lose it.
Next, we will talk about ways you can get rid of groundhogs or keep them away from your garden.
Use living humane traps
Living traps are the best and most humane way to get rid of groundhogs. These traps are a long cage. At one end of the cage, there is a door, and at the opposite end, there is a trigger that closes the door.
The animal enters the cage and activates the trigger, and the door closes. As a result, the rodent does not receive any injuries.
You can use different foods as bait, but the most effective bait is cantaloupe. No groundhog will resist such a delicacy.
Just cut thin pieces of cantaloupe and make a track of them to the end of the cage. Place a large piece on the trigger.
Place the trap where you walk the least. This is necessary so that groundhogs do not notice you, because they can appear during the day, and your presence will scare them away.
When you catch a rodent, you need to take it as far away from your yard as possible (at least a few miles). If you release it too close to your home, then the pest may return, and you will never catch it again with this trap.
Get a dog
The second effective way to deal with groundhogs is dogs.
The natural enemies of these rodents are large predators (bears, wolves, etc.). However, with the expansion of agricultural land, groundhogs settle there, and predators enter these lands infrequently.
In populated areas, dogs have become the main enemy of these pests. Many gardeners claim that they don’t even have dogs, but a few neighbors have, then groundhogs don’t bother them.
So if you have a similar problem, then get a pet dog. Choose large breeds (such as the German Shepherd) because groundhogs are relatively large creatures, and a small dog can not handle it. Cats are also not suitable for this.
Install a fence
Another good solution is to fence off your garden with hostas. By doing this, you will protect your plants not only from groundhogs but also from many other animals (deer, rabbits, etc.).
Welded mesh fence panels are best suited for this purpose. They are quite easy to install, and they last a long time.
Choose panels at least 5-6 feet high. If you do not want deer to enter the garden, the height should be at least 8 feet.
Of course, the fence has its drawbacks, one of which is that the groundhog can dig a passage under the fence and still get into the garden.
However, the fence will make it very difficult for these pests to access the plants. Therefore, it remains quite effective.
A liquid fence is also known as a repellent; it is a liquid with an unpleasant odor. It works best against deer and rabbits, and it is also quite effective against groundhogs.
There are many good repellents on the market, choose the best one, and spray your hostas. It is important that you do this in dry weather.
After you apply a liquid fence on the plant, it should dry. Even if you don’t smell repellent after drying, the odor still will be too sharp for the animals, and they won’t come close to your hostas.
If you spray the plants in wet weather, the product will not stick to the leaves, and the first rain will wash it away. But if it dries on the leaves, then you will need to renew it no more than once a month.
You can also create a repellent yourself. There are many recipes on the Internet for how to do this. However, the efficiency of homemade liquid fencing is lower, and in addition, it is less resistant to precipitation.
The first useless remedy against groundhogs is blood meal. Some people, for some reason, believe that this smell is not liked by pests.
Maybe so, but all you can do is scatter blood flour on the ground under the plant, and it will not prevent rodents from eating the leaves.
In addition, after a short time, dew or rain will wash away this repellent, and you will not achieve your goal.
The same goes for cayenne pepper. With it, you may be able to keep wild animals away from your garden for a short time. However, this will not be for long because precipitation and wind will quickly do their job.
Garden spinners are a little more effective, although they do not provide reliable protection.
The best strategy in the fight against groundhogs is a combination of different methods. If you install a fence and get a dog, then you can be sure that your hostas are almost 100% safe.
What to do if the damage is done?
If pests have damaged your hostas, you need to arrange the most comfortable conditions for recovery.
The first thing to do is to shade the plants. Even if they grow in the shade, the extra shade will ease the conditions, and hostas can even form a few new leaves this season.
Shading can be done with a garden umbrella or shading net from the garden center. When using the net, you need to make a frame; it can be four sticks inserted into the ground around the plant.
The second thing you can do is provide humid conditions. Water the damaged hosta from time to time, do not allow the surface to dry more than an inch.
If there are any stems or parts of them left on the surface, do not cut them. They will photosynthesize and provide the plant with the necessary energy, albeit in small quantities.
You can also feed the hosta a little. The amount of fertilizer should be small because the plant has no leaf mass and does not need much fertilizer.
All these activities will allow your hostas to gather strength for next year. Although, as I mentioned above, there is a high probability that the plants will begin to recover this year.