Hostas are delightful plants and deserve to be in every garden. If you decide to plant them in your garden, be prepared for some difficulties that may arise.
The most common problems with hostas are slugs and deer. Use iron phosphate to deal with slugs. Various repellents work well against deer.
You may also encounter a number of other problems when growing hostas. We will look at all of them in detail in this article.
The first and most important problem of all hosta fans is slugs. These creatures are very fond of eating hosta leaves and can cause considerable damage as a result.
The slugs and snails prefer the young, soft leaves the most. Hard, mature leaves are usually left untouched.
As soon as warm and humid weather arrives, the slugs go out to feed. They usually appear in the evening or at night, when the air is as humid as possible. They can gobble up the leaves of small hostas. At the same time, they will leave a lot of holes in the leaves of large hostas.
How do you solve the slug problem?
Drench the ground around the hosta with a 10 percent aqueous solution of ammonia. This will kill the slugs and their eggs that are hiding in the ground.
The next thing to do is to put some iron phosphate pellets around each shrub. This will kill those slugs that come later. Iron phosphate is absolutely safe for pets and birds.
Various traps can also give good results. However, they are not as convenient as the above methods.
To reduce the number of slugs in your yard, remove all decaying plant debris. These are the places where slugs are most likely to live and breed.
Read more: Treatment for slugs on hostas.
A second major problem with hostas can be deer. If you live in the suburbs, there is a chance that your yard will be visited by these creatures.
Deer can eat a hosta down to ground level. However, in most cases, they will only destroy the leaves.
If a herd of deer wanders into your yard, only the stems will be left in a few minutes. Of course, the hostas will recover after a while, but they will look terrible.
How do you solve the deer problem?
Spray your hosta leaves with deer repellent. You can make your own deer repellent using garlic or buy a ready-made deer repellent. These all work well enough but the repellent needs to be renewed after a rain.
The second thing you can do is fence off the hostas. Even a simple plastic netting will do the job just fine. You can fence an entire yard or just a bed of hostas. The disadvantage of fencing is the relatively high cost.
Another effective and fun way to solve the deer problem is a sprinkler with a motion detector. When a deer approaches your garden, the motion sensor is triggered and the water jets chase the deer away.
Read more: How to keep deer from eating hostas?
Another problem that often arises when growing hostas is insects. This is a large category of pests that can damage the hosta with varying degrees of severity.
Sucking insects are those that do not eat the leaves but feed on the sap of the hosta. These include thrips, scale, aphids, and some others. They usually cause the leaves of the hosta to turn yellow.
Next are the larger beetles that eat the leaves. These include grasshoppers, leaf-cutting bees, and many others. This type of pest can do a lot of damage to hosta leaves but will not eat them completely.
And finally, I should mention the larvae. Many different insects lay eggs in the garden. When the larvae hatch from them, they usually eat the green leaves. The hosta can suffer a lot as a result.
How do you solve the problem of insects?
The best solution is to spray the leaves with horticultural oil or neem oil. These can get rid of most insects rather well. Just dilute the horticultural oil in water as labeled and spray the leaves.
Insecticidal soap also gives good results. Spray the hosta thoroughly and the problems will go away. Repeat the spraying after a while if necessary.
Read more: How do I keep bugs from eating my hostas?
Too much sun
The lack of shady spots in the yard is a serious problem for homeowners who prefer hostas. These plants are shade-loving and do not tolerate planting in full sun.
The maximum amount of direct sun that hostas can tolerate is 4 to 5 hours. In addition, hostas only tolerate morning or evening sun. If a hosta receives sunlight in the middle of the day, it will surely burn.
How do you solve the sun problem?
If your hostas are growing in a sunny location and they get sunburned all the time, the first thing you can do is put some shading net on them. There are many options on the market for such a netting and you can even buy a frame on which this netting can be installed.
Next, water the hostas using about 1 gallon of water for each bush. This will make it a little easier for them to stay in the sun.
Eventually, you will need to transplant the hostas to a more shady location. This is best done in early spring or early fall.
To avoid the problem of too much sun, plant the hostas in full or partial shade. Read more about this in the article: How much sunlight can hostas tolerate?
Sometimes it can happen that a hosta can suffer from a lack of water. This is not a serious problem as the rhizome contains a lot of water and the hosta will recover after some time. However, the appearance of the plant can be seriously ruined.
Very often, dehydration occurs after transplanting. This is because after you dig up the hosta, some of the roots get damaged. While the root system is recovering, it is possible that the leaves and petioles will droop. This is especially true if the weather is hot and dry.
Also, potted hostas often suffer from dehydration. The soil in the pot is usually scarce and it dries out quickly in hot weather. As a result, the hosta doesn’t get enough water and withers.
How can the problem of lack of water be solved?
Check the soil around your hosta’s roots constantly. As soon as the soil dries out more than 1 inch, water the hosta with 1 gallon of water or more if it is a large variety.
Also, mulch the hosta with organic material. The mulch will prevent the soil from drying out and overheating. As a result, you will have to water much less often. A layer of mulch should be 2 to 3 inches.
Read more about this problem in this article: Do hostas need a lot of water?
In humid and warm weather, crown rot can sometimes happen to a hosta. This rot can spread to the petioles, causing them to fall to the ground with the leaves.
This usually happens during heavy rains in the summer. Or if the hosta is growing in a very wet place. Even a large amount of rotting plant residue can lead to hosta rot.
How can the problem of crown rot be solved?
First of all, you need to dig out the hosta and clean the dirt from it. Next, wash it in clean water.
Cut off all the rotten tissue with a sharp and sterile tool. Wash the wounds with a 10% aqueous solution of hydrogen peroxide and put the hosta in a dark place for several hours.
After that, plant it in a less humid place with well-drained soil. Water very sparingly with a small amount of water.
Read more: How Do You Treat Crown Rot On Hostas?
Voles are a serious problem for the hosta garden. These pests are very fond of eating hosta rhizomes. They gnaw large holes in it and also feed on the lower part of the leaf petioles.
If many voles live on the property, they can destroy an entire hosta bush. However, they usually only damage part of the rhizome, and the hosta can still be saved.
How do I solve the voles problem?
If voles have damaged your hosta, dig it up. Examine what’s left and divide it into pieces if necessary.
Plant each part in a separate pot filled with fresh potting soil. Water them and place them in full shade. The growing period can last the whole season.
To prevent vole damage, place hot pepper flakes near each hosta. The smell that this product will exude will keep the voles away.
The next difficulty that can arise when planting a hosta is the soil. Hostas like moist, well-drained soil that is also slightly acidic. In most yards there is no such soil, so problems arise.
Most often the soil is heavy and poorly drained. As a result, hostas grow slowly and often suffer from rot.
The soil can also be too alkaline. As a result, the hostas won’t be able to consume minerals from the soil and will turn yellow.
How can the soil problem be solved?
If your hosta grows very slowly and often turns yellow, check the acidity of the soil first. Use test kits available online and in garden stores. If the pH of the soil is higher than 7.5, add some acidifier or garden sulfur to the soil.
If you have clay soil and your hostas often rot, transplant them to a less humid location or to a raised bed. When planting, use a mixture of native soil and compost or soil conditioner.
Read more about this problem in the article: Best Soil For Hostas
The next thing to mention is leaf spots. This symptom in most cases means a health problem with the hosta.
Fungal pathogens settle on the leaves of the hosta and begin to destroy them. Each spot is the place where the body of the fungus has sprouted. If there are too many of these spots, the leaf will turn yellow and die.
Usually, the hosta can get sick in very humid and warm weather. Depending on the type of fungus, the spots can be brown, dark gray, or even black.
How do you solve a fungus problem?
The first thing to do is to remove leaves that are too badly damaged. Also, clean up any plant debris that is lying around the hosta to prevent it from rotting.
Next, spray the leaves with an aqueous solution of multipurpose fungicide or copper fungicide. Repeat the spraying after 14 days.
If your hostas are growing too densely, spread them out so that air can move freely between them. A common cause of fungal diseases is a poorly ventilated garden.
Overwatering is a problem not only for hostas but for many other plants as well. Hostas do not like wet feet so they can rot if the soil is too wet. On the other hand, they need enough water, so you have to keep a balance.
Overwatering can happen if you water too often or with a very excessive amount of water. Also during heavy rainfall, there may be too much water for the hosta. Even planting in a spot where water accumulates from the roof can harm the hosta.
How do you solve the problem of overwatering?
The first thing to do is to follow the rule of thumb not to water the hosta before the soil around the roots is at least 1 inch dry. Don’t water hostas in rainy weather or in winter.
Avoid planting hostas where water runs off the roof or in swampy areas. If you have clay soil in your yard, improve it with organic matter.
This problem is described in more detail here: Can you water hostas too much?
Nematodes are a fairly common problem in hosta cultivation. The rapid spread was made possible by nurseries that propagated infested hostas. As a result, nematodes spread throughout the country in a short period of time.
These pests are microscopic worms that live in water or in decaying vegetation. When the right time comes, they penetrate the hosta and feed on leaf tissue. The symptoms are brown streaks on the leaves between the veins.
How do I solve a nematode problem?
The first thing to do is to cut back the leaves and petioles in late summer or early fall before they turn yellow. This will greatly reduce the number of nematodes in the garden. Throw these leaves in the trash and never leave them in your yard.
The second thing you can do is water the soil around the hostas with a 10% aqueous solution of ammonia. This will kill those nematodes and eggs that are in the ground.
You can control the nematodes in your garden with these two methods, but it is almost impossible to get rid of them completely. If you want to know more about this, be sure to read the article Hosta foliar nematodes treatment.
Late frost damage
The last problem for hostas is late frosts. Sometimes it happens that hostas have already unfolded their first leaves in the spring, but suddenly a severe cold snap comes.
Young leaves are very sensitive to the weather and if they are exposed to frost they will suffer greatly. Symptoms are wilting of the leaves, and they may also become watery. Eventually, the leaves will turn yellow and die off.
How do you solve a frost problem?
The easiest way is to cover the hostas for late frost. Keep an eye on the weather forecast throughout the spring.
As soon as a cold snap approaches, cover the hostas with a frost blanket. You can easily find this material online or at a garden center. There you can also buy a frame on which to put the frost blanket.
You can learn more about this topic here: Will frost hurt hostas?