Hosta problem....

hosta_freak(z6 NC)March 8, 2012

I may have to give up hostas this season. There is some critter who is eating of the tops of my newly emerging hostas,especially the bright green ones. I know you all are going to say rabbits,but I think that is wrong. Rabbits have been in my woods as long as there have been hostas out there,and have never eaten a hosta,to date. I think it may be a rogue vole,and yes they do eat off hostas that are not roots. It only happens at night,so it is a nocturnal critter. Last night,I covered some of the ones that had been previously chomped on, and they left those ones alone,but I found almost all of my Honeybells tips chomped all the way down to ground level. One of the hostas it leaves alone,is montana Aureomarginata,because it is up,with leaves unfurling,at about 10 inches now. My friend who had a problem with squirrels crapping all over her deck,says the product Critter Ridder works very well. Have any of you ever used it? I hate to have to go out and put vole bait down again. Phil

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Bloodmeal scares away a lot of vegetarian varmits. I don't know how it compares to vole bait, but it worked for my problem, groundhogs, which did exactly what you describe, chew everything down to the nub at night. You have to put it down again whenever it rains or the scent washes away. It's supposed to improve your soil and 1 small bag got me through a gardening season, I didn't have to use it after that, it seems like the groundhogs found something better.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Oh Phil!! Oh No!!! Not your magnificient woodland gardens. There MUST be a way to stop the beastie.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:35PM
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Shake Away is a ver effective repellent against voles and moles. You can easily buy it online and lasts longer than anything sprayed on. If you want to make your own by some Cayanne pepper powder mix it with water and spray on your plants. This will keep them away also but needs to be repeated after a rain. If you don't have pets you can also use DCon which will of course kill them and get rid of the problem completely.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:15PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

get a fine rake.. and rake the soil.. see if you can get a paw print ....

if you cant.. then you are down to small size ...

bait a rat trap with peanut butter ... under a large black pot ... elevated slightly on one side.. to make a dark area .... look for holes to trap also ..

may as well do a mouse trap at the same time ...

until you get one.. speculating is useless ...

and its awful early to be giving up phil ... we usually dont hear that until august.. lol ...

in the last 24 hours.. i have seen my first skunk and groundhog ... its just that time of year.. for the annual spring migration ...


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:24PM
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Black pepper shaken on a plant works well on groundhogs, they hate it. Just ask me how I know, I buy it by the pound, lol! But groundhogs are daytime feeders, so it is most likely not them unless they are out just at daylight before you are.. They do love hostas, tho. If not deer or rabbits, good question. Doesn't seem like voles could do that much damage.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Just because the bunnies haven't previously eaten your Hostas doesn't mean they haven't recently discovered them. They like to feed on tender young eyes, so that may be why they aren't (yet) onto the montana Aureomarginata. Liquid Fence or Bobex small animal repellent should do the trick. If it is voles then traps should tell you this. Bait the trap with apples and peanut butter.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 5:32PM
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donrawson(Z 5)

Like Ken says, get a few traps set. Put a big nail thru the trap to hold it down to the ground so it doesn't jump around when something triggers it. Good luck...

PS Do you have deer problems?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:54PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Thanks,everyone. For now,I am covering the few that are up with cardboard boxes. Tonight it's pouring rain so maybe the bunnies are taking cover. Don,we have no deer here where I live. Just rabbits, squirrels,chipmunks and the occasional vole. The only place groundhogs live,is down in the valley,where there are plenty of grasses in the fields. I will keep an eye out for any changes,and this should pass. This is the first year I have ever had this trouble,but then this has been an unusual winter. Phil

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:03PM
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leafwatcher(zone 5)

Maybe you could borrow a automatic hunting cam from someone? If its a big enough animal to trip the camera,you might at least know what you are up against?

A friend had a beagle that was like a vacuum cleaner to anything green growing in his garden, maybe you have some odd stray dog with good taste?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 12:05AM
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lol, denial is not a river in Egypt....sounds like cute furry vermin with long ears to me. Send for the 'Royal Hand Grenade of Antioch' (Monty Python reference). Once the hosta get past the just unfurling/leafing out stage and these vermin are less of a problem ... except maybe some smaller hostas along the edges of the path. A couple of feral cats or a fox will do wonders to the population.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 1:02AM
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Sorry Phil, I edited out the lol and forgot to preview and then submit. lol was for past references that his bunnies don't eat hostas like the urban bunnies I have.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 1:06AM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Or a gun? But that is not politically correct. Got night vision goggles, Phil?

From that sweet little old gramma in California.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 1:17AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

I'd put my money on the fur rats (rabbits) as well. They never ate the tops of my emerging hosta either...until last year.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 2:26AM
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I guess my German Shorthair Pointer helps slow down bunnies, but she doesn't stop them from minor munching. I have lots of bunnies but never had hostas eaten by them. Some of the suggestions don't work if you have a dog. For instance a good way to destroy my hosta beds would be to use blood meal (lol). Little Amber would never want to come back into the house.

I have tones of voles, which are more an interest of my daughters doxie, and they eat roots but never had my hosta buds munched by them that I could see.

So I have never used it on hostas, but on other places I have used variations of pepper sprays on my gardens and it seems to have deterred all the furry-types from eating my plants. Any one else have experience with pepper sprays?


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 7:47AM
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bernd ny zone5

I have only bunnies, so a Liberty's first eyes getting chewed off must have been by a bunny last spring. That one loves also one particular heather, chews it off every winter, though it regrows.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 8:11AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I am more and more inclined to believe that this is a first year bunnie attack! Update from last night;nothing ate any hosta eyes,and the cardboard boxes are wet from last nights rain. It was probably a combo of boxes,and rain that deterred the critters(probably bunnies) because they usually feed at night. I don't think it was voles,because there are no signs of tunnels anywhere. I think I may get some bloodmeal,or red pepper out there. They seem to be ignoring the bullet-like eyes of hostas like Leola Fraim,and Dark Star,because they haven't been touched. I know they have weak eyes,and at night it's dark,so they must get their nibbling by touch alone. montana Aureo,still hasn't been touched,and now it's unfurled the first leaves. Thanks for all the humor,even though it's not very funny when you wait all year for the first appearance of your hostas,and this happens! It will all work out in the end,but there will be some ragged leaves when they leaf out. Phil

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 9:05AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Sorry to keep bugging ya'll about my problems,but here's a new wrinkle to the critter problem. All hostas in the ground are OK,but something climbed up into my box of seedlings and ate my Korean Snow seedling right down to the crown! It was just getting ready to unfurl a leaf,and now it's gone. No claw marks are visible on the outside of the box,but it rained last night. Any new ideas? I think this means war!!! Phil,(the pest from NC)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 10:45AM
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I have trouble in the greenhouse with mice eating my seedlings. It also happened in my basement window, we caught three of them down there right next to the seedling trays. They were uprooting them and also eating them off. So far I haven't caught the one in the greenhouse but I have traps set!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 1:44PM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

How high is the seedling box off the ground? I know woodchucks are great climbers but don't know about rabbits - all we have here are hares. Could a rabbit jump up onto the box? If not a woodchuck is a likely possibility.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 6:25AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

The box is about 14 inches up off the ground. It's funny,the critter is only eating the really small shoots,but ignores the tough ones. I now suspect it is mice. I doubt a rabbit would bother going that high. Groundhogs are only down in the valley,where the grasses are,and have never been seen up here. Thanks for all who responded. I may be after some sort of repellant today. Phil

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 8:10AM
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I made a hardware cloth box lid to go over my seedling trays, and that stopped the damage. Traps work if it's mice.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 8:59AM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

Cats are nocturnal hunters...maybe get a couple kitties at the local shelter and let them prowl around at night.

Don't give up the hostas - you have a beautiful collection!


    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 11:31AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

My experience with pepper deters pit bulls when you get them right in the face.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 12:04PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

After the cold night last night,I took off all the protection,and went and got some blood meal,and put it all around the emerged hostas. I have to cover the ones that are up tonight,then we go into a 5 day stretch of way above temps. We'll see if that does the job. I have to leave the freeze/frost protection then to see if any more damage occurs. There was no attacks last night,but everything was covered up. Phil

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 5:25PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Last update to this annoying post! My hostas have been totally uncovered for two nights now,and no further damage has occured. Either;A the Blood Meal worked,or;B the critter was just passing thru! Either way,I am thankful,and thanks to all of you who gave me the suggestions! Over and out! Phil in NC

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 2:10PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Great news, Phil. Does this mean that your beautiful woodland hostas will be unique this year with the tips of the leaves having little notches in them? I'll be watching for your pics.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 9:05PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Actually,only a couple of hostas will have the notches,Babka! I think the other leaves will cover the damaged ones,especially Honeybells,which is a huge hosta,and if I didn't like it ,I could cut off the damaged ones,like it never even happened. Phil

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 11:41AM
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