Planting Hostas in Containers (Voles)

elizabethanneJune 12, 2009

I'm trying to protect my hostas from voles by planting them in 3 gallon plastic containers before placing them in the ground. I have four questions and would appreciate help from anyone who has to constantly deal with voles.

1.) I've covered the bottom of the pots with sharp edged gravel. Should I also drill holes in the sides/bottoms of the containers as well?

2.) I purchased some crushed oyster shells. Should this be mixed throughout the soil or only placed as the top layer to protect the plant?

3.) When hostas are planted in the ground in containers, do they require daily watering?

4.) I mulch with shredded bark to help control the weeds in my hosta beds. I've read that this attracts voles as well. Should I discontinue this practice?

Thank you.

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1. Definitely drill holes in the pots about 2 1/2 inches from the bottom so excess water can drain out. I use this method on about 50% of my hostas

2. If you are growing hostas in pots its best to grow them in fine pine mulch, not soil. It decomposes and give the plants just what they need to thrive. Put your oyster shells on top to discourage slugs.

3. Daily watering is usually required only if the hostas are in direct sun, hot conditions and are using lots of water. Water when the potting medium is nearly dry about 2 inches down.

4. Any kind of mulch attracts voles. They crawl under it. If you have voles, it's best to use no mulch.

Other folk here will have some good ideas too.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 12:04AM
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jbranch(7B Alabama)

What I have seen in my yard of vole tunnels is that they are close to the surface of the ground. It would be great if someone could confirm this or how deep they tunnel.

The reason I say this is that I don't know how necessary it is to provide more protection deep in your pot or deep in the hole in the ground. Hopefully, the pot itself will provide the necessary protection for deep root growth. The area of the pot and hosta roots close to the surface is what I would be most concerned about.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 9:01AM
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Voles will use mole tunnels if available. I got hit very hard by voles over the winter, first time ever. This is also the first time that I blew the leaves off of my yard onto the hosta bed for 'winter mulch'. Hmmm. Anyway, when I blew the leaves out of the bed, I did see many surface runs. However in order for the voles to do the damage they did, they would have had to burrow down. Among my losses was a HUGE (4' across) Blue Angel. I am still stunned....all that was left was a HOLE in the ground, as if I'd dug it up. Not one iota of the plant remained.

Between the major vole attack and the fact that I'm planning to move, I dug up all of my remaining hosta and put them in pots. I begged free pots from a local landscaping company, and before adding the soil, I used 1/4" hardware cloth to cover the holes. I suppose I could plant the pots like this, but since I'm moving, I just put them on my back patio. If I were planting them, I guess I'd add some gravel to the top.

When I do replant them, I will not plant them in pots, but do plan to dig extra big holes and line those with gravel before adding the hosta and soil. I would like to line the hole with the hardware cloth, but I think that would be a big PIA. I don't know what I'll do on top...I'm thinking pine needles.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 7:57PM
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Use the sharp gravel on top also. Pine needles will be soft enough for the voles to dig in.
Cages are a pita, and I figure it will take me a couple years to cage all of mine.
Here's what I am doing. I caged the Blue Wonder in the fall and it's in the bed where the voles were the worst, eating every hosta in that bed. Came through the winter fine.

Here is a link that might be useful: cages for hosta

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 9:55PM
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leecat(z5/6 IL)

It is mentioned to plant in fine pine mulch, not soil and pine needles as mulch. Does all this pine make the growing medium too alkaline for the hostas liking? Just wondering as pine was mentined several times in this thread.

Thanks for any info.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 8:16AM
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Hostas thrive in fine pine mulch as a medium. They have a range of tolerance for light alkaline to light acid conditions. Here are some pics of hostas grown in nothing but pine mulch.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake:

These are from fellow forum member Highjack's garden:

So you be the judge.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 10:32AM
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Thank you for all of the helpful responses. I planted all of my hostas yesterday and am hoping they will thrive. After seeing the photos, now I want a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, too!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 6:54PM
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