Solving Hosta Problems

Solving Hosta Problems
SymptomsProbable Cause
Ragged holes chewed in leavesSlugs or snails
Plants disappear in soilVoles
Leaves Eaten to GroundDeer
Foliage wilts; collapsesCrown rot
Spots on leaves and stemsLeaf spot

Plants Disappear in Soil Due to Voles
Young plants that disappear in the soil may have been eaten by voles. Voles are small rodents, similar to mice. They burrow in the soil, often traveling in existing mole tunnels, and nibble on plant roots. They are best discouraged by eliminating moles through proper care of your lawn. Voles can also be caught in mouse traps. Getting a cat helps too.
For more information see files on Dealing with Voles.

Eaten Leaves are Probably Eaten by Deer
Hostas are on every list of plants favored by deer. Sometimes commercial deer repellents sprayed on hosta foliage will discourage those deer that are just casual visitors. If the deer in your area are desperately hungry, they will only be deterred by fencing. There are many kinds of deer fencing from unobtrusive black poly netting to flexible, easy to use electric tapes and 10 foot high permanent anchor types. Depending on how severe your problem is and the size of your landscape, one or a combination of these types will protect your plants.
For more information see file on Dealing with Deer.

Foliage Wilts and Collapses from Crown Rot
The most common disease of hostas is crown rot, a bacterial disease. In spring, instead of healthy shoots emerging from the ground, nothing happens. When you dig up the plant, you find crowns turned to ill-smelling mush. There is no practical way to cure this disease. Prevent its spread by digging up the plant and the nearby soil and putting it in a plastic bag for the trash. Disinfect your tools by dipping them in a solution of hot water and household bleach or spritzing them with household disinfectant.

Spots on Leaves and Stems are Caused by Leaf Spot
The stems and leaves of hostas are sometimes disfigured by leaf spots, usually caused by various fungi. Pick or prune off any infected leaves. Remove and discard seriously infected plants with their soil and throw in the trash. To control the spread of the disease, remove any mulch that may be harboring fungal spores that will bounce onto healthy foliage when it rains and replace it with fresh. Spray the foliage of nearby hostas that are not yet infected with a commercial garden sulfur according to label instructions.
For more information see file on Dealing with Fungal Disease.

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