Pruning Hostas in Spring after hail

lesliec76April 27, 2013

So here in the great state of Oklahoma, our weathermen tell us hail is coming a lot in spring but we are usually lucky and it either misses us or it doesn't happen. Last night our luck ran out and most of my hostas got severely damaged. It's just sickening. We have had a rainy spring and they looked so healthy. I took the time to sprinkle crushed egg shells around the base so the slugs wouldn't eat them. I usually cover them but they were getting so big and the tubs i use didn't cover them anymore. I wish i could tell them to get back in the ground when they start popping up at the end of March but that's like talking to a man LOL, I kid, i kid. My question is, if i prune the leaves that are the most damaged, will they grow back or will it damage the whole plant. our summers are brutally hot and usually dry.


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

leave them be for a few weeks.... then trace down and rip out.. a FEW of the worst ...

even a damaged leaf will feed the roots ...

do NOT go pruning all the damaged leaves.. you will just set it back too much ...

a few years back.. i had them pulverized to the ground.. recovered.. and then again.. later in the summer ... pulverized again .... it was not a good year.. and they were smaller the next ...

why is yours so close to the grass ...???


    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 1:23PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Leslie, I'm in Dallas. I got that in 2011. We had 2 hail storms back to back. Cutting them back will work, as they will put out new leaves. However, it will weaken the plant somewhat. In three years, you probably can't tell the difference, but next year, they will be smaller than they would have been if you had not forced them to make new leaves.

I've found the best defense against hail is window screening (the plastic kind). I had bought one of those curtain kind of screen doors that didn't work, but it did a great job of protecting my hosta last year. Sheets also help, but not as much as the screening material. It minimizes the momentum of the hail stones - the screen better than the sheets.

I won the distinct honor of having the ugliest hosta in 2011. It's my Sum and Substance. I didn't trim mine that year, I just lived with ugly hosta. Of course, I had to have some new ones to cheer me up (any excuse will do).


    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 1:30PM
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That is where it was when we bought the house. We should probably move it next year because it's not real happy by the end of the summer. We've moved most everything that was already planted when we moved in because nothing was where it should have been. She had a japanese maple, hydrangeas and azaleas that were all getting west sun. What is wrong with people? :)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 5:33PM
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I'll be patient and deal with the holes for now. Thank you both for your help.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 6:04PM
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It's simple.
If it's green, it's still sending energy to the roots.
Don't trim them unless you have to.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:49PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

That is where it was when we bought the house. We should probably move it next year because it's not real happy by the end of the summer.

===>> someone did a brilliant post on MOVING A FULLY LEAFED OUT HOSTA ... under that title.. using the search ... it should be easily found ...

i dont understand why you need to wait to do it ...

late july brings root growing season.. storing energy for next spring... i would do it mid-july or so ...

i would suggest you do it immediately.. but its already stressed ... so perhaps not ...

on the edge of the lawn .... it makes me think of the guy with the weedwhip sneezing.. and then all your hail damage will be gone .. lol.. and the rest of the leaves ....


    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 8:39AM
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Jon 6a SE MA


When pruning a tree the 'rule of thumb' says don't prune more than 1/3 of the branches. I think the same rule would work with hosta.

Yes, all green leaves are building up roots; but taking out damaged leaves will force new leaves and more growth in undamaged leaves. Otherwise the plant is spending a lot of energy on keeping damaged leaves on life support when it could be building into a nicer plant.



    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 9:59AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i respectfully disagree ...

there is no analogy between tree PRUNING ... and hosta care ..

you do NOT ... PRUNE ... a hosta ...

words mean things ...

hosta have two flushes.. spring.. and late summer.. you can NOT alter their genetics.. and FORCE them to generate more leaves .. without detriment to the plant ... and they will not generate new branches either ...

jon also said: Otherwise the plant is spending a lot of energy on keeping damaged leaves on life support

and i once said that.. many moon ago .. and was pshawed wildly ... the hosta is NOT trying to heal a mature harmed leaf ... like a tree might try to 'heal' a wound ... they just dont work that way ... think of a leaf more as a energy processing plant ... it is not a skin.. that needs to heal ... any green is a net plus.. even just a celery stalk petiole ...

i am impressed jon is 'thinking' .. dont get me wrong... all the power to him ... it adds to the conversation .... i do not intend to shout him down.. in any manner ... plus.. it cracks me up.. that i used to think the same thing.. 20 odd years ago ... its all part of the learning curve ....


    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 11:03AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Well, thank you for the response to my post, Ken. I am not entirely convinced. Here is some advice from the AHS on hail damaged hosta.

"Hail can damage hostas by piercing the leaves. Holes will depend on the size of the hail. In severe cases it may be easier and more attractive to remove intensely damaged leaves to make way for the newer sets of leaves."

...and on late frost damage-

"If hosta plants are hit with late frosts it is best to cut off and discard the damaged leaf tissue so it does not inhibit the new leaves emerging."

I had a few Frances Williams that had all their leaves eaten by deer (I suspect) late last summer. I left the stalks and this is how they survived and today they are popping up. Some people suggest cutting the damaged leaf and leaving the stalk(s).

I would not hesitate to 'prune' damaged hosta leaves and I think the 2/3 rule is reasonable. If over or close to 1/3 is lost, then I would not do any pruning and preserve as much of the leaves as possible.


Here is a link that might be useful: AHS link

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 12:22PM
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What I do is this. I leave the damaged leaves on the plant. It may not look attractive,but it is still feeding the plant. When new leaves appear,they cover up much of the damage. Then if you can't stand it,cut off some leaves that you don't like. The plant will survive,and next year,you won't even be able to tell it even happened. phil

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 4:07PM
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Thank you all for your help.
While i will consider moving the hosta before next spring i do not think that mid July or so would be wise considering mid July or so here in Oklahoma is around 120 degrees with 90 percent humidity. I'll wait until it cools down a bit. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 8:46PM
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