What's eating my hostas?

wichitagardener(6B)April 25, 2013

I've got three Francee hosta that are sending up pips. Checked them out yesterday morning and several of the pips are sheared off. The strange thing about it is that it is an almost perfectly clean cut. Thoughts? There are several rabbits in our neighborhood, do perhaps thats it.

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wichitagardener(6B)

A pic of another one.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 9:06PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Probably rabbits. They'll be back now that they have a taste. Try a repellant like Licquid Fence. I use Bobex.

Steve

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 9:31PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Definitely rabbits! They did that to some of mine,earlier this season. They will grow back,and rabbits won't eat them when they are leafed out. I had one plant that was completely eaten to the ground,and now it's leafing out again. Phil

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 9:57PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Dried blood or blood meal works wonders.

tj

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:14PM
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mosswitch

Well, now, I have the same sort of damage and my hostas are caged so the rabbits (or deer) can't be getting to them. I have found that they are being attacked by pillbugs again this year, hordes of them eating the pips off as they come up. My project for the afternoon was making collars for the young plants, after making sure the area around each one was clear of pillbugs and debris first.

I did this because a few of them that I had made collars for last year were pillbug free with no damage. I used clear plastic cups that I cut the bottoms out, and just slipped them over the pips, making sure the bottom edge was in the ground. It also keeps out cutworms. I have already tried diatomaceous earth and didn't seem to have much success with it.They don't seem to be bothering older hostas, just young tender thin leaved ones.

If plastic cups aren't big enough, I have used the tops of thin black nursery pots. All you need is a collar to go around the plants. In fact it is now my plan to cut 4 inches off the top of every pot of each hosta I plant and make a collar at planting time. (one inch in the ground and the other three sticking up).

Sandy

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:16PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

Sandy, you don't need the 4" of depth in the nursery pot? Or are you saying when you unpot the hosta and put it in the ground, take 4" off the now-empty nursery pot?

Remember, my mindset is to have the hosta in a pot so I was seeing the pot get pretty danged short. :) (sorry)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:33PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

I don't think pillbugs would make a clean cut like wichitagardener is showing.

tj

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:54PM
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Babka(9b NorCal)

How big are the holes in your cages? Baby rabbits? (and if you have any rabbits around, there are babies all the time). We have pill bugs all around here, but they prefer decaying vegetation over that green stuff.

-Babka

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 11:05PM
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mosswitch

The pillbugs are definitely eating them off. Clean to the ground. They are a menace to new hosta growth, they love new vegetation as well as the decaying stuff. When you see them en masse crawling over the new pips, and even up the stems of unfurled leaves, eating away, you will understand what I mean. Lucky you haven't had that problem. You should see what they can do to a patch of lettuce. It isn't new, or an unusual one. Google pillbugs or sowbugs eating garden plants and perennials and you will get a real eyeopener of information.

Mine is not a rabbit problem. They can't get through chicken wire.

I mean I take the empty pot, cut 4" off the top, and put it (the cut-off top) around the newly planted hosta as a collar to keep the pillbugs and cutworms out.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 11:35PM
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mosswitch

I;ll take a picture tomorrow in the daylight and post it so you can see what I mean.

Sandy

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 11:46PM
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mosswitch

So, pouring rain today and now we are on our way to an Airstre rally, so pictures will have to wait!

Sandy

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 2:32PM
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wichitagardener(6B)

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I mixed up some cayenne pepper / water and am giving that a shot.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 6:48PM
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don_in_colorado

Almost perfectly clean cut? Some rabbits can do just that.

Don B.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 2:12AM
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mosswitch

This is pillbug damage! Pips eaten off to the ground as they come up. Most of the little pests headed for cover when I pulled back the rest of the leaves.

Sandy

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 10:36AM
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mosswitch

This is a hosta that had damage, recovering after I "collared" it with the top of a plastic cup. (this would also help rabbit damage as it is tall enough that the rabbits couldn't easily reach inside). I have been doing the same thing with some of the bigger hostas, with the top of a gallon pot as a collar. When the hosta grows, you don't see it. I did pile up a bit of soil around the outside of each one as a barrier.

I haven't seen a pillbug inside any of the "collars" after I did this. Keeps out cutworms too. So far. Maybe slugs, too.

Sandy

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 10:58AM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

Sandy, great solution to your pillbug problem.
However, I wouldn't count on it keeping out the slugs. Those slimy stinkin slinkin things invaded a pot I had sitting on my chaise lounge! And that meant they crawled up the legs of the metal furniture, over the sides of the pot, and were stretched out on top of a nice leaf in the shade, when I discovered them. NOT hatched from eggs, since it was a new container and new soil with my bare root arrivals this spring.

I have to admire the way your collars work. Reckon they might help deter squirrels from digging in a pot?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 12:41PM
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mosswitch

Moc, they might work for a squirrel problem! However, my solution to that was a circle of chicken wire or 2x4 wire right over the top of the pot, tied down through the hole in the bottom if it was a new plant. Or around the side of the pot if it was an established one. Plants grow thru it, squirrels can't dig.

It was just hopeful thinking about the slugs. But maybe a ring of Sluggo outside the collar would keep them busy and hopefully soon dead.

Edit: I did cut a piece of chicken wire, with a hole in the center, and put it around new small hostas when they were planted in the ground and weighted it down with rocks. Seems to have kept the squirrels from digging them up, and this spring I just pulled it off as the hostas were coming up and not in danger of that any more..
Sandy

This post was edited by mosswitch on Tue, Apr 30, 13 at 14:24

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 2:20PM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

I have several hostas with pips eaten off, but that has stopped now for a week. The eaten off pips are continuing to grow and are pushing out of the soil now for several inches. Probably I will have hostas with several leaves having the rounded off look.

Being proactive and having seen a bunny hop away, I backed a fence with chicken wire mesh, around 70 ft, but this is insurance.

I spread Bug-Getta Plus anti-slug pellets a week ago, but do not see any slimy trails yet.
Bernd

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 7:05PM
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