Hostas, like most ornamental plants, need constant protection. For this purpose, gardeners use a wide range of different remedies, but not all of them are safe.
You can’t spray a hosta with vinegar because this will burn the leaves. Vinegar is an aggressive product and will kill living tissue in minutes. Vinegar is not safe for hostas and will kill them.
Let’s go into more detail on this subject. Why vinegar is used at all in the garden and whether it can be useful in any way.
Why shouldn’t hostas be sprayed with vinegar?
Many gardeners believe that vinegar can keep pests away from hostas. This is especially true of deer and beetles. For this purpose, some experts have created recipes for repellents with vinegar and are spreading them everywhere.
However, the effectiveness of vinegar as a repellent is negligible. Vinegar can only damage a pest by getting on it and not necessarily killing it. After a few hours, the vinegar will evaporate and be of no use.
The downside of using vinegar on hostas is the damage to the leaves. Vinegar is an acid, in other words, it is quite aggressive. It can burn the leaves to the point that they wither and die.
Even an aqueous vinegar solution can do significant harm to your hosta. For this reason, you should never use vinegar directly on hosta leaves.
What to do if I sprayed my hostas with vinegar?
If you sprayed vinegar on your hosta leaves and realized that this could have negative consequences, you need to act right now.
Wash the vinegar off the hosta leaves immediately with a garden hose. Use enough water to pour over the whole hosta and each leaf individually. Repeat this after 1 to 2 hours.
Watch the hosta for a few days. If the leaves are okay and have a natural appearance, then there is nothing to worry about.
If the leaves turn black or watery within a few hours or days, cut them off. Wilting or yellowing of the leaves can also be a symptom of damage. In either case, immediately cut off the damaged leaves along with their petioles at ground level.
Will the hosta recover from vinegar damage?
The hosta will definitely recover from the vinegar damage. If the leaves have been heavily sprayed, they will most likely die off. But if only a few drops of vinegar hit the leaves, the leaves and petioles will stay alive.
Let’s consider the possibility that a hosta has lost its leaves and petioles because of vinegar spraying. Then new leaves will not appear in the current year. The hosta will be stagnant by next spring.
All the while, you only need to water in a very severe drought. The rhizome doesn’t need much water the rest of the time because there are no leaves to evaporate it.
What you can do is water the hosta once with liquid fertilizer. Do this as soon as it has lost its leaves. This will help it gain the strength to grow more vigorously next year.
When the new season comes, fertilize the hosta with a slow-release fertilizer. Make sure the fertilizer contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
The next thing to do is to watch for moisture in the soil near the roots. Don’t let the soil dry out more than 2 inches. Also, mulch the root zone with organic matter.
If you follow all of these rules, you can expect a full recovery of your hosta.
Can vinegar be good for hostas?
The only time you can use vinegar around hostas is to remove weeds. It does a very good job of burning off unwanted plants.
In this case, however, you need to be very careful not to get vinegar on the hostas. To do this, adjust the sprayer to a minimum angle. You just have to squirt the weeds in a thin stream without spilling a drop on the ornamental plants.
A good practice is to use protective plywood. Just take a piece of plywood and protect the hostas from getting vinegar on them when you spray the weeds.
An alternative to vinegar as a weed killer is mulching. Mulch your hostas with 2-3 inches of organic matter. It is best to use pine bark as it is heavier and more durable.
Hostas are fairly large plants and can suppress weeds on their own. If you mulch them and plant without large gaps between bushes you won’t have to use herbicides at all. Those weeds that sprout can be removed by hand and that’s it.
What to use instead of vinegar on hostas?
If the bugs are eating your hostas, it is best to use horticultural oil instead of vinegar. It is a natural product that does not harm other living things.
Simply dilute two teaspoons of soap in a gallon of warm water then add two tablespoons of horticultural oil. Mix well and spray on the leaves and stems of the hosta.
The second thing you can use against insects is insecticidal soap. This product is commercially available and is also completely safe for hosta leaves. You can apply it to the leaves and the bugs will not eat them anymore.
If your problem is deer, it is best to use ready-made repellents. They are also available for purchase online or in stores.
Spray your hosta leaves with repellent and you will forget about deer for a while. The label should tell you when to repeat the spraying.
You can also use a motion detector against deer. Plug it into a lawn sprayer and when a deer gets close, the jet of water will scare it away.
Against slugs, it is best to use iron phosphate. Sprinkle pellets around each hosta and pretty quickly most of the slugs will be dead.
To get rid of these pests even better, pour a 10 percent aqueous solution of ammonia around each hosta. This will kill all the slug eggs and you won’t have to use vinegar.