could this be frost damage?

uk-hostamanMay 5, 2012

over in the uk...the rain has not stopped for the last 3 weeks,even though we are on drought warnings!...and after a glorious march,april and the start of may have been really my hostas are alittle behind last year

Anyway...spotted these markings on one of my new 'fleet week' a few weeks back...could it be frost damage?

and just a couple that seem to be coping with all this cold and wet!

artic blast..growing nothing like i thought it would!

sea gulf stream

and a new one this year...'GOLDEN SCULPTURE'

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Don't know what the spots are, but I love your garden! Sea Gulf Stream is a beauty. And Thalia (?) narcissus. It must smell wonderful in your garden. Hosta and boxwood is not a combination that would ever occur to me - it's great. At some point I would love to see some pics of your garden from a little further away.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 8:26AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

yes.. i COULD be...

what it is is individual cells dying.. either from loss of cell wall integrity related to cold.. or a bug biting the tissue ...

its not something i would really worry about ...


    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 8:44AM
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Gesila(MI Z5)

I have a couple that look like that. At least it's not mush like some of mine got after two nights of freezing.

What are the little cages over your hostas for? And, where did you get them?


    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 8:52AM
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Gesila....the little cages are up turned hanging baskets i use to protect the new shots from our little cat who still is very heavy footed when it comes to the soft shots in spring and also good for covering with fleece when they are really young...usually by this time of year they have all out grown them!

and know your narcissus!...been in bloom for a month now

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 9:13AM
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tiddisolo z8 Wales UK

Hi UK, having lurked on this forum for a long while now, this post of yours has prompted me to join in.
Last year around this time I moved to Mid Wales from just outside London. With me on the move came around 200 different Hostas all in pots which is mainly how I grow them.
As you will recall we had blistering temperatures for several weeks prior to my move. Shortly after we got here the weather broke and it turned wet and cold.
Within a few weeks of that change I started to see the same kind of rust colored dots appearing on the leaves of quite a few of my plants. Frighteningly it started to spread across virually every plant causing leaves to die and some rotting at the base of the stems.Searching books and the internet gave me no answers and I came to the conclusion that the plants had been stressed and that what I had was possibly some sort of fungal infection. I applied fungicide on a regular basis which seemed to slow it down.Worried that the loss of leaves would leave the plants unable to build reserves and new roots and eyes for the following year there was nothing else I could do but wait for the spring.
Once the eyes started showing in the spring I started to clean the tops of the pots and tipped a few out to look at the state of the roots.All seems to be well with plenty of healthy roots and eyes and they have slowly unfurled. A small proportion of the plants are showing this spotting again and if it ever stops raining I will apply a fungicide.
I can't say for sure what caused it or even if it is fungal but it is curious that you should first of all cite the weather conditions in your post.
At the moment I am more worried about the frost to -5C forcast for tonight and am frantically trying to cover them or move them inside, not an easy task with something like 300 pots to cover or move.
I wonder if there are any other UK hosta growers reading this who have experienced anything similar.
A big hello to all you guys over the other side of the pond.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 11:31AM
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Hi david..glad you joined...i love it here!...would be good to hear if others suffer from this problem too!...and if there is anything we can do to prevent it...
dont be shy with posting pics of your hostas!

ps.i know what you mean about the frost tonight..-2 forcast for here so as much in the greenhouse and cover the rest with some good fleece i bought on ebay(link)


Here is a link that might be useful: fleece

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 12:41PM
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That is a fungal leaf spot which can be secondary to frost damage, and can be common during cold and prolonged wet conditions. Some cultivars are much more prone to it than others. You can't cure the spots but can stop the spread with a fungicide drench and then trying to allow the leaves to dry out.

I've never seen fungal leaf spot rot the stems but frost damage itself can sometimes encourage rotting of the stems too.

When I have an individual plant I will just spray it with foaming lysol disinfectant/cleaner, let it sit a few minutes and then rinse it out. With larger areas I will spray with Daconil. Overall it doesn't harm the plant, and it is just something in the environment and not a permanent problem with any particular hosta.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 12:47PM
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Gesila(MI Z5)

I love it Chris, foaming lysol disinfectant/cleaner!


    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 1:12PM
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its great here...thanks off to fleece everything!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 1:29PM
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This forum is such a wealth of information. So glad I landed over here.

UK, there is a silver lining here. It was so unseasonably hot here in March that my Thalias bloomed and died in about 3 days. You have had yours for a month! Wow!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 1:30PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

That is a fungal leaf spot which can be secondary to frost damage

is chris saying.. that w/o some loss of integrity to the leaf surface.. that neither the rust nor the fungus would be an issue ...

that is what secondary should mean ..

in other words... preventative chemical use would NOT be worthwhile???


    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 2:25PM
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Preventative chemical use can help. If you know it is a cold and wet spring then you can prevent some of the spores from taking over. The damage can be just as easy from overly wet, cold tissue that has burst, and if there are no fungal spores present through prevention then that would be great. I do both and in some cultivars can never get a complete handle on this - cold, wet, frost damage, it is almost bound to happen on something.

Lysol is actually approved for plant use as a fungicide (sold as the brand name Consan 20), and since I have the foaming spray around all the time for disinfecting tools I don't mind spraying down the plants from time to time too :)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 6:30PM
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jan_on zone 5b

Hi David -- welcome to the forum. I suspect you are our first Welshman, but you're certainly not the first person here to move and take a ton of hostas along! It's great fun to have a contact in another part of the world.

uk-hostaman -- as always, I enjoy your pictures. I think you have a tiny perfect garden. Perhaps being space challenged has made you particularly creative. At any rate you seem to have grown a paradise.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 9:07PM
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AnnasHostas(10 UK)

I've found this Forum searching the internet for answers why my hostas' growth has been stunted this year.
Having read all the comments I decided to share my sad story with you. All my hostas are in pots (120 of them) this year they have grown dwarfed. The photo shows my biggest hosta (apologies for the gross overexposure of the pic) Sum & Substance. It normally grows 5' high leaves. This year the flowers came out first! Before the leaves opened. The leaves as you can see are nowhere near 5' they are barely 1' high. This hosta is by no means the only one that has done this. I have two large mature Halcyon hostas. They also grew flowers before opening leaves and the leaves are barely 2" off the ground.
Could this be frost/wind damage?
A couple of years ago I moved from London to Suffolk, quite near the coast. When the wind blows, it blows and my garden here isn't as protected as the one I had in London. Would the plants adapt this quickly? We also had a dreadfully frosty snap in February when the hostas start emerging from the ground, so it could be frost damage. I have some 6 hostas that haven't come out at all this year.
Any suggestions? I am also worried that this could be this dreaded HVX that has infected some of my hostas, as some leaves, particularly on the Big Daddy hostas are kind of curled. Is it frost or HVX?
Looking forward to some moral support.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 4:17AM
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AnnasHostas(10 UK)

Sum & Substance

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 4:39AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


You should consider starting a new thread for your story and posting more pictures of your Hosta from this Spring. It likely was a change in weather conditions in your (relatively) new location that have caused problems with the growth cycle of your Hosta.

Typically Hostas go through an initial vegetative growth cycle in the Spring and early summer, followed by a reproductive cycle (flowering) later in the year. This is then followed by another less vigorous vegetative growth cycle in the fall. Something happened to interrupt the normal cycle for your plants. They were significantly stressed and thus went directly to flowering as a means for survival.

You said you have 120 Hosta in pots. Have all of them had stunted growth? Tell me what you do with your Hosta during the winter time. Do you cover them? Do you tip them over? Does the potting soil in the containers freeze or not during your winters? Are any of the pots more protected from the wind than others? From what direction is the prevailing winter wind relative to your garden and house? More pictures would be helpful.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 7:47AM
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AnnasHostas(10 UK)

Thank you so much for the trouble you took to respond. I am new to this forum so I didn't know how to anything, let alone start a new thread.

You are absolutely right; the hostas did suffer great stress last year after I moved. The new garden is very exposed to sun and wind and I really didn't know where to put them. Some of them were moved several times to give them some shade in the afternoon. In addition we had a very early hot spring in March last year so the hostas came up very early and flowered early. But then we had a long spell of rain followed immediately by sun, meaning the water on the leaves practically boiled and cooked the leaves. As a result by mid August, when I should have a great display, almost all the leaves on all the hostas where burnt and died.
I cover my hostas in the winter with bark chips which seems enough; we don�t have Siberian frost here. I do take the hostas off all the plates so they don�t stand in water which could freeze if it gets below zero.

Not all the hostas are dwarfed. Mostly the blue and green such as Big Daddy, sieboldiana, Blue Angel, even miniatures like Blue Mouse Ears. All the blue hostas stood in a place with shade in the morning, but sun in the afternoon. They didn�t cook in the sun as badly as all the other hostas, such as Francee or Gold Standard, yet are most stunted this year.

The prevailing wind is from the west, but being close to the North Sea coastline, it changes frequently and we have strong winds from the east as well. I wondered if perhaps the salt in the air could have something to do with the stress on hostas.

Finally, in London I had a mostly shaded garden so the hostas were in dappled sun all day. They looked stunning, I attach some pics. Here in Suffolk it is a different story. I have planted some climbing plants to give some shade and repositioned all the pots so they are in some shade in the afternoon as much as possible and am hoping for the best. Unfortunately this garden is only a temporary situation for me, so I can�t do anything permanent till I move again to my own house.
Thanks again

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 5:43PM
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AnnasHostas(10 UK)

May/June 2012

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 5:45PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

To post a message, go to the bottom of this page where it has a purple link that says "return to the hosta forum". That's the main page for this forum. At the top of the white space, there's a group of blue links. The rightmost one says, "post a message". Click there and a space will pop up for you to start your own thread.

There are a few of us who grow in pots here. I'm in Texas, so our climates are worlds apart. Something I've garnered here after a couple of years is to make sure your pots don't stay too wet in the winter. Babka covers hers as soon they they go dormant, so they get no rain all winter. Folks in climates with continuous freezing weather wait for them to freeze and them tip them over and put them on the shade so that water can't accumulate above the frozen part and rot the crown. I think the shade is so they don't continuously freeze and thaw. Some move them to unheated sheds after they go dormant.

In my part of Texas, we get very little freezing weather and then usually nothing under 25 degrees fahrenheit. If it freezes, it's just a couple of days at most and usually just overnight. I don't do anything to mine. I keep them on "pot feet" so they have good drainage. Mine do fine that way.

Sorry I couldn't help more. If you'll post to the whole group, you might get better answers.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 6:20PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

That's a beautiful collection of Hosta in pots that you have. I'm not sure what a Siberian Frost is, but it sounds like your pots don't freeze during the winter.

In order for your Hosta to thrive in their new climate they will need a lot more water than they used to get in London. This should help them to deal with the change in sun and wind conditions. You are correct to give them as much afternoon shade as you can. It appears that those pots are terra cotta clay. While those pots are very beautiful, they also absorb water and dry out faster than other materials.

Once your Hosta have flowered this summer and are getting ready for dormancy, make sure they have a lot of water at that time of year. You want them to go into dormancy fully saturated with water. Once they are dormant no more water until you see growth in the Spring. Just protect them from the wind and sun as much as possible.

These are Hosta. They will adjust to their new situation, but you just want to reduce the stress for them as much as possible. I'm pretty sure that what is happening is that they are drying out due to the increase in sun and wind. If you have any Hosta that are pot bound, make sure that they get re-potted into a larger pot so that there is enough potting mix to retain some moisture between waterings.

Thanks for showing us your collection.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 6:44PM
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Anna, look forward to seeing your new thread.

You find the box for NEW subjects at the bottom of the main Hosta forum page. Be sure to put a tic (check) in the little box which says to send any replies to you via email. That's the valuable part of having your own subject. Plus, for the rest of us, we can find it in a search and it will be focused on one topic instead of several. Like BKay says, the whole group will be aware of a new topic....and a new poster from another part of the world.

Welcome aboard!! Always room for another soul who loves hosta. :)

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 7:58PM
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AnnasHostas(10 UK)

Thanks again Steve
It seems that I have always been making the mistake of not watering much after flowering, assuming that they don't need much then. I do water but not as much as in spring and summer.
Lesson learned!
They are re-potted and split quite regularly and yes I do know about the terracotta pots being very porous so all the plants have a water tray under the pot, which is taken away in the winter so the soil doesn't freeze over.
Thank you for your help and also thank you for your comments about my collection.
Best wishes

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 11:15AM
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