Hostas are gone, what happened?

LuckyOne11(4 MN N Sub Twin Cities)May 30, 2013

I have been growing beautiful Hostas in my flower garden, this is the 9th year, and they have always come up with no issues. This year only 3 plants have come up and they look bad. I had at least 10 plants out there and one of them was so huge that it's flowers were 5-6 ft in the air. I have had an issue with Voles for 4 years and nothing has ever happened to my Hostas. What is going on? Should I go digging around to see if the bulb/crown is still there or should I leave them alone for awhile? No matter how crazy our weather has been, they have always been up by now. I am just sick at the thought of them being gone. I have 6 new plants I intended to add to the garden, but am now scared to out of fear that whatever is going on will effect them too. Help???

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ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida

Hostas are about a month late. Give them time to come up. Do a finger test. See if they are there. It is a weird year for spring weather. I am still waiting on some in Florida. Got pips no action on still about 10 plants. Just wait. Like the Great Pumpkin they will come.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 5:45AM
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I've been calling it the Winter That Won't End and saying that summer has been cancelled. However, we did warm up nicely yesterday and it's sposed to be around 80, I might be wrong. I hope!

I'm in central Wisconsin...missed those late snows (for the most part) that hit Minnesota... I'm tucked back in the woods so was protected from the frost that hit last week.

Did your 'looking bad' hosta get hit with frost?

Most of my hosta are up and few that receive more sun have are unfurling. Fujibotan is still just pips, though.

Farther back in the shade, most are still just pips. Halcyon, for instance, is just barely pipping back in the shade. Where it gets more sun and is close to the house, it has unfurled.

I should also mention that hosta that were mulched (with wood chips) have been much slower to emerge. The mulch has insulated the ground, keeping it cold. Raking back the mulch will allow the ground to warm up faster. The unfurled Halcyon close to the house was not mulched, whereas the others in the woods were mulched.

So you can see that there are a lot of factors other than just weather that come into play and affect when a hosta decides to wake up. I've had generic hosta for years but only got semi-serious about them in the last three years so I've lots yet to learn.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 7:44AM
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Interesting that ILOVETOGROW still has late emerging hosta! I'm in the same fix, with about 3 that cannot be encouraged to emerge, regardless of placing them in full sun. So now I'm moving them into shade again.

The two I have most trouble with are 2 young Lakeside Black Satin, and 1 Tokudama Aureonebulosa, with 2 quarter-sized leaves. It stalled on me.

Same thing is true of a pepper which was doing fine with a fruit on it, but since the last cold spell, it is not growing or developing any further. All other pepper plants around it are growing though.

And about the voles. Don't think they are in my climate now, but when we were gardening in MA, zone 5b, they decimated a group of hosta....ground looked like swiss cheese and I thought they would never grow back. But it seems the little varmints gave renewed life to the old clump.

Hopefully your hosta will put in an appearance soon.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 11:21AM
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Moc, I have two Lakeside plants that Myrle said even she can not get to grow and gave me. Here I am a new hosta grower and they seem to be surviving and growing too. One is Lakeside Black satin and other is Lakeside Full Tide. Just lucky I guess . Seems to me these were on "borrow " until they grew and could be again shared back. Some must be alot slower too and may not like the area grown in so may have to be moved or boarded out

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 1:14PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

I'm in Texas, so can't relate on the weather, other than it's been weird. I have two that stalled out and haven't recovered, but they were young.

My first thought when reading your post, was, "Oh my, the voles got them." I might wait a little longer, but at some point you have to dig them up and see what happened. If the smaller ones have fewer roots, you probably have vole damage.

I don't have voles (our ground is too hard), but I would proceed as if that is the problem. Don't give the voles another 6 plants to eat without some precautions. People who have that problem plant their hosta in metal baskets to keep the voles out. Apparently, when the voles find those nice hosta roots, they keep coming back.

Pay attention to the fact that I said I have no personal experience. you should seek more advice on voles and hosta from folks who have dealt with it. There are some on this forum, but may not read this post. Start a new thread with voles in the subject line.
Good luck


    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 3:56PM
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I am in Minnesota too, and I am having the same problem. I posted about this a while back. My Bressingham Blue which is over 10 years old, has disappeared. I have a lot that have come up, but seem stalled. Everything, except Sagae, is way behind.

I can't figure it out. Obviously, our winter has gone on forever, but we have had much colder winters than this. Usually, the problem is that it warms up and then we get a freeze. That didn't happen this year, it never warmed up.

Its not just the hostas either. I have lost more perennials this year and a lot of my shrubs are damaged. And to add insult to injury, the rabbits have started munching on the few hostas that are up. They usually leave them alone after they leaf out. It has been a very strange year.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 6:40PM
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LuckyOne11(4 MN N Sub Twin Cities)

Ci_lantro, The ones that I said look bad are almost wilted looking but they are bright green and some leaves have bite marks on them. I have pulled back my mulch and even the weed protecting weed preventing fabric stuff. I found lots of beetles under there and there were a couple holes. I sure hope those little rodents didn't eat my babies. I have taken great
pride in how my Hostas have gotten so big and now I'm just sick!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 10:29PM
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hockeychik(4b MN)

Most of my hostas are also very slow to emerge. I want to put down some mulch but am afraid to do that when I can't see where all the plants are yet. It is strange because some of them are actually up about 6-8 inches but most are just barely peeking out if that. Then there are a few that are already looking awesome and bushy. So crazy!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 10:56PM
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aharriedmom(8B FL Sunset 28)

Will hostas not come up through mulch? ^

I planted several early this spring, but haven't seen any evidence of them.

If I were a more organized gardener, I'd know well enough where they are to dig up and see if they are viable, but well.... I have an idea where most of them are, at least the general location.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 6:29AM
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"there were a couple of holes"...that doesn't sound good, Lucky. I'm thinking you ought to lift that hosta and take a look at the roots. At the very least, bait a couple of mouse traps and a couple of rat traps with some peanut butter and see if you can catch the critter.

Aharriedmom....established (and vigorous) hosta will struggle their way up through mulch.....

but, it is very bad practice to mulch over the crowns of plants because it sets up an ideal microclimate for all kinds of problems (disease, rot, fungus, etc.). It would be a good idea to get out there and rake away the mulch & see if you can find where you planted them. Hopefully you might be able to rescue some...but this late in your season, I fear you're going to be looking at replacing them.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 6:59AM
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aharriedmom(8B FL Sunset 28)

Ah, okay. I was thinking they'd be like other rhizome plants and just push their way up through.

I'll go check. :(

Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 7:06AM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

I have only two hostas that survived the hungry squirrel rampage of winter and spring this year. One is Abiqua Drinking Gourd. It lhas 3 pips that show their tips but have yet or grow and unfurl. The other is Summer Breeze. Both were damaged by squirrels, but were the most developed crowns of my potted hostas. The SB is beginning to unfurl.

Of my planted hostas only one has not come up yet: my T. Aureonebulosa which is ALWAYS late. But the dfference in emergence between those which received a lot of sun b4 the trees leaved out has been amazing. Where the sun warmed the soil the hostas were almost a full month ahead of those shaded by the house a good part of the day.

If I were you I would not prod, poke or dig up anything for a while. I watch the weather closely and you-uns in MN are way behind me weatherwise. You are going to have a short summer.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 8:57AM
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I am having the same issues here in west central MN with no signs of some of my hostas. Some are older ones that I have had a few years and some are newer that were just planted last year. I know we are running 3 to 4 weeks behind on Spring and it's been very cold and rainy here.

They were all very healthy looking last fall, so I am hoping they will still come.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 7:21PM
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LuckyOne11(4 MN N Sub Twin Cities)

Well now I am seriously bummed. I went out and dug around in my garden and the ones I could find were just a mushy mess and the others are just gone! I have a rather large evergreen bush on the end of my garden and its roots are everywhere this year as if its struggling for nutrients or something. I have never seen so many roots so close to the surface and unfortunately I think they may have choked out my hostas. I just wanna cry because I had the biggest Hostas on the block and I have taken such good care of them to make sure they survive every year. Now I wish I never would have gone out there. The 3 or 4 that are coming up just look aweful, they are very small and the leaves, or whatever they are called, don't look healthy. I found one bulb I think but its roots are very small and I doubt it will survive at all although I was gentle with it and put it back right away. So now I'm not so sure if it was Voles. To me it looks like they either rotted from the new weed matting I put in last year under the mulch or the roots of the bush snuffed them out. I was told the holes in the matting were too small to let things breathe and between that and the mulch it may have held too much moisture in that area for the Hostas and they died. I have never seen what they look like underground, but I am sure they shouldn't be mushy and just falling apart. I also know that in 9 yrs they should have had a strong root system, not the mess I just found. I have 6 new plants I was going to add into the group, but now I just don't even care. Between my lawn and this, my beautiful yard is just a mess. I don't know what to do. Both my neighbors Hostas are up and blooming so I know mine are gone. If it were the weather I would think everyone would be having trouble, not just me.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 11:08PM
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Bless your heart, it is a sad thing to lose your garden reliables.
If the "beetles" you mentioned are what we call "rolly pollies" then they can be the culprits eating your hosta. They feed at night.

However, if your hosta roots are mush, that does sound like they were too wet over the winter.

The store which sells the metal mesh waste baskets is Dollar Tree. Reasonable price. The mesh protects the hosta from the voles.

If you already have plants ready to go in the ground, pot them up if need be, until you have the bed prepared, and do away with whatever that product is which doesn't let the moisture work properly. Can you try a pre-emergent herbicide to keep down weeds? Or, the landscaping fabric that I got to put beneath my shredded cypress mulch lets water pass through, so I think it breathes. Nothing here (in zone 9a) is croaking so far.

Good luck with your garden and lawn this year. It won't defeat you.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 12:16AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I have several that are MIA, some were new last year, but a couple were mature clumps, Time will tell but I don't even see pips emerging yet. If they're gone I'll just have to consider it an opportunity to try something new. My guess is that some of the rain we had this past winter ( an unusual occurrence here in MN) may be the cause of their disappearance,

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 12:28AM
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Babka NorCal 9b

First of all, I'm so very sorry for your great loss. If they declined due to tree roots, you would have those roots intertwined in your hosta roots, or at least shriveled up hosta roots. The sudden-ness of the downfalll and the mush/rot could very well be due to your "weed matting" (landscape cloth?). Bad stuff. Be brave. Chalk it up to experience. Dig up what is left and put them in pots where you can control the conditions, then put them back in the ground next Fall. Save those babies! The ones you save will be extra special. I have a Thunderbolt right now in with three 1/2" leaves,in a 2" pot. It had been a beautiful plant before I over watered it. Always learning.

Don't despair! Gardening is fluid. Deal with what you got. I'm sure you will find a way. And pull up that "weed matting". Hostas need air!


    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 12:40AM
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LuckyOne11(4 MN N Sub Twin Cities)

I pulled out the weed matting before I know it could be part of the issue. I also raked off all the mulch so that I could see what was going on under there. I don't know what these Beetles but they are shiny black with rounded back ends, that's all I've been able to see as they are always trying to burrow into the ground to get away. I don't see any slugs, but I do see many earthworms. I knew I should've just left the darn landscaping rock there, as nothing was ever messed with my plants then. I just wanted my garden to look more natural and I thought Mulch was good for plants? I put animal repellent down last week and haven't noticed any holes anywhere in the front yard since. I know I have something small burrowing through my yard and the holes are about an inch or so across. The garden center says it's Voles and that they are nasty little buggers that like to destroy everything. I have an organic matting to put down, but I'm not doing a thing except figuring out how to save the 4 plants I have without killing them. It's really discouraging to find my biggest, hardiest plant just a mass of rotting mush. I don't know what they all were as something took the markers the 2nd yr. All I can say is it was a bluish color with huge leaves that didn't hang down like most, they always seemed to be reaching for the sky and had beautiful purple flowers on shoots that were 5-6 ft in the air. People used to ask what I did to get my plants so big and were shocked when I said I don't do anything but water them when it hasn't rained for a few days. I know this happens to others and that I will get my garden back, but it still makes me sick that they were fine last year and this year all hell broke loose! I don't know what to treat for...Voles? Beetles? I'm at a loss since it seems that more then one thing has played a factor in the death of my beautiful babies :-(

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 1:47AM
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I am convinced it is our weather. The never ending winter and then all this rain....

I dug up my Bressingham Blue finally and found the same thing. Its mush. Must have just rotted from all the water. My plant was very old too, probably 10+ years.

Maybe this is good news. Its something we can't control, so instead of blaming ourselves, we can blame Mother Nature.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 9:24AM
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Black beetles are usually predatory and eating the bugs that bug you, lol! so you probably shouldn't try to kill them. They are one of the good guys.

Voles, on the other cat just brought me one as I am typing this. Good boy!


    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 11:26AM
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LuckyOne11(4 MN N Sub Twin Cities)

Lol Sandy, I don't have cats, not since my Siamese died in 2009. He was a 16 lb beautiful Seal Point who was good at chasing little rodents down and sitting on them until they died and then he would bring them to me as if he was telling me " Here Mom I killed this just for you" lol. I sure miss him, but my Maltipoo is my new baby. Too bad he hasn't seen the Voles or he would chase them out of the yard! Whenever he sees anything like a squirrel or whatever he goes nuts.

Thanks Jamie for posting, now I can feel relieved that it may have not just been me doing something wrong. Either way, I have a different weed matting that is biodegradable and will allow things to breathe and tomorrow I am going to Dollar Tree to find the wire baskets. I hope they aren't too expensive as I now have 10 new Hostas to go in the ground and I have 4 to rescue out there. I bought Krossa Regal, Minute Man, Francee, Hadspen Blue, and Wide Brim Plantain. I hope I have better luck this time.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 1:47AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

When we had our last "el nino" year, I lost a ton of plants. It was so wet, I even lost cemetery iris, which I thought you couldn't kill. It's normally pretty dry after June 15 or so, but that year it rained and rained and rained.

All you can do is start over. I'm sorry for you losing all those beautiful hosta. Mother Nature can be a tough old bird.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 7:30AM
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