Basic hosta care (help a newbie out!)

nomorebluekitchenMay 11, 2012

Hi,

Can anyone recommend a web page, forum post, or book dedicated to teaching a beginner how to care for her hostas?

I'm fairly new to hosta (2 years) and have fallen in love. I inherited hundreds of boring ones, but over the past two years I have bought some special, beautiful ones. I want more, of course!

My problem is that the hostas I already have aren't that healthy. I have a variety of issues (most pest and rabbit related) so that not one looks like the lovely photos I see here. Before I invest more $$$ in more special plants, I want to make sure I'm caring well for these I own.

I searched the forum and FAQ for book recommendations but I'm not interested in an encyclopedia or a very expensive pictorial guide to hosta varieties; I really need a basic how-to.

Any recommendations would be helpful.

Some of my questions are:

- what preventative actions should I take to keep the pests from destroying my hosta? (For rabbits, I have Rabbit Scram which works if I reapply. But there are slugs and other critters chewing, too. Do I need to identify each creature, or is there something I can do that is a broad control?)

- do I remove damaged leaves or leave them so they can help strengthen the root system?

- common signs and symptoms of problems. For example, I have some inherited hosta that are developing crispy brown edges. I am thinking these NOIDs are getting too much sun. I might post pictures here to get advice, but I also would love to have a resource in my hands as I'm walking the line in the mornings.

Thanks for any suggestions for books, webpages, or specific forum posts with care instructions!

Anita

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bkay2000

I don't know about where you are, but lots of folks from the midwest and south have mentioned caterpillar damage this year. It's not a usual problem, at least not for me. I've sprayed with BT for that. (If you go out with a flash light after dark and look for what's eating your hosta, you'll have a better idea of what to do. Everyone assumes slug damage, which is not always the problem.)

I can't help with the rest of it, however. I live in the city and grow in pots.

bkay

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 10:24AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

first.. did you find the FAQ's .... look just above the title HOSTA FORUM ... some help there ...

then you said: Do I need to identify each creature, or is there something I can do that is a broad control?)

==>>> unless the DeNile river is near you .. yes you must ...

third.. i like my blue kitchen.. and am not impressed with your name ... so i wont answer anymore questions ... lol ..

ok.. i was kidding..

check out the link.. there are various further links there ...

frankly.. VERY FRANKLY.. this forum is your best resource.. just start posting.. and asking questions .... and reading back thru the 65 odd pages of posts .. and you ought to be all set ...

welcome to the adventure.. we are VERY GOOD ENABLERS ...

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 11:37AM
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nomorebluekitchen

Thanks, I appreciate all the willingness to help. i think perhaps I'm a bit jaded by my time on the FlyerTalk forum where any newbie who hasn't done a lot of homework is soundly beaten and sent home!

Here is the photo I took last night to assess damage. Who is eating this hosta?

Anita

PS - Ken, let's see a picture of your blue kitchen. I'm sure it is gorgeous. Mine was not! When I posted photos over on the Kitchens forum, a lady responded "Oh, my, that is EXHAUSTING to look at!" and she was dead on.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

I do recommend a trip to the local library, because they are quite likely to have a supply of books about hosta, that's #1, and then about garden pests and how to deal with them. That does not have to be specific to hosta.

I have ready to hand the Hostapedia, and I recommend you at least look at the table of contents, and perhaps read the first 30 or so pages in it, because there is a wealth of information about growing hosta in the front of the book, well before the alphabetical listing of hosta begins. And then, Zilis does not simply describe the appearance of the plant, but he gives growth characteristics, its daddy/mama sort of stuff, and whether it likes more sun than shade at your latitude, and so on. The Hostapedia is a good reference for that too.

And like Ken said, this forum is about the best place to look. On the main forum page, where you see listed all the most recent posts, you scroll down to the bottom and find a tiny search box. THAT's the search box to use for special questions/terms you are looking for. Just get results for THIS FORUM or you'll be overwhelmed with results.

Ken is also right that this forum is filled with VERY GOOD ENABLERS. Why, a year ago I could barely spell "hostaholic" and now "I R 1" and it did not take long for it to happen.

Don't like blue kitchens myself, and I was over to that side of GWeb in Smaller Homes too, and have a checkered past on the garden side as well. I think you'll like it here. Some very knowledgeable experts on hosta, and if you're willing to listen and to learn, you'll feel right at home. Welcome to the party!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 12:47PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

The American Hosta Society publishes a wonderful booklet called "The Hosta Adventure...a Grower's Guide", which answers a lot of questions about growing hostas. I just wish there was an easy way to get one (about $5ea.) You get one when you join, but there also used to be a way to just purchase the booklet. I can't find a clickable link. It describes pests and diseases with pics, how to divide, etc.

-Babka

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 1:34PM
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nomorebluekitchen

Thanks, I appreciate all the willingness to help. i think perhaps I'm a bit jaded by my time on the FlyerTalk forum where any newbie who hasn't done a lot of homework is soundly beaten and sent home!

Here is the photo I took last night to assess damage. Who is eating this hosta?

Anita

PS - Ken, let's see a picture of your blue kitchen. I'm sure it is gorgeous. Mine was not! When I posted photos over on the Kitchens forum, a lady responded "Oh, my, that is EXHAUSTING to look at!" and she was dead on.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Anita,

That is either a worm or caterpillar. It doesn't matter which, just pick it off and kill it. I had one eating my LS Prophecy. They hide in the grooves of the petioles and go after the young eyes to eat them. Squish the little bugger. If you have an infestation of these critters then you can try to ID it through a local extension service. If it's just a few then hand pick em.

An infestation of caterpillars deserves some BT. If it's worms something like Spinosad or Sluggo Plus (contains Spinosad along with the Iron Phosphate) should do the trick.

As a basic guide, I agree with babka that The Hosta Adventure... is a great basic guide and it's cheap. The link is below. While you are at that publications page read the public copy of the online journal. It's a wealth of information. Join the AHS while you are at it and you'll get The Hosta Adventure as part of your membership and then two paper journals a year in addition to the online one.

Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: AHS Publications

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 3:57PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Steve- That's the link I looked at earlier to see if it was still being published. I have an older copy, but there isn't anything clickable (or a price given)in order to buy a copy. Boy, I must be missing something obvious.

-Babka

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 4:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

but that leaf shows no damage from the bug that is on it ... does it????

except maybe some poop ...

i do mind repeated questions .. that are the same as a post 3 down .. that is not cool ... if you arent keeping up.. why should i waste my time with giving the same answer over and over again ...

and i hate the questions that are something like this" i want to propagate hosta.. please discuss the entire process from start to finish..

i mean really.. and while i am at it.. why dont i do your homework.. and carry you to school on my back.. and stay to spoon feed you lunch while i am at it ...

you get stuck on something.. i will help.. but if you are too lazy to even do some basic research.. pshaw ...

it would take me 2 months.. to clean my kitchen.. to be proud enough to show you a pick of it .. lol .. its very deep dark blue.. and it works.. because with the sliding door .... plus a window over the sink.. and south facing.. any other light color.. is nearly the Apocalypse .. you nearly needed a welding mask to go in there when the sun was out because its so bright ...

ken

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 4:55PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Babka,

The public copy of the online journal is clickable. For the Hosta Adventure you have to scroll down for a price ($5.50 for non-members) and then email Paula Lehtola or print out the order form and pay by check. I know. It's pretty weird that you can't buy it online. Get on Josh Spece's case about that. He's the webmaster. Of course, he doesn't have anything else to do (except get my order out next week). :~)

Steve

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 4:59PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Steve! Yes, now I see it waaaay down on the bottom. Thanks for your good eyes. The booklet is so cheap and SO informative and such a wonderful introduction to hostas and how to grow them it should be much more easy to find and purchase, and more prominent on the page than registration lists and other goodies that become of greater interest later, once you are hooked on hostas.

The $30 I spend to belong to the AHS pays for itself 10-fold in information and breathtaking photos.

-Babka

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 6:30PM
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franknjim

Ken, I think there has been one of those glitches today that is making the double posts. The one in this thread isn't the first double identical post that I have seen on here today.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Frank, come in out of the sun...I don't see double posts!!!

But it has happened to me too.

-Babka

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 8:48PM
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chris-e(7 MD)

Babka,

Frank and Ken are right...it's not the usual double, one right after the other, there are two posts between them.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 10:05PM
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