Diminishing Hosta

whip1 Zone 5 NE OhioJuly 12, 2014

What are some of the cause of hosta diminishing? You can see the S&S in the middle and the 2 on the right are smaller than they were 4 years ago. I lost a tree that offered some shade, but all the hosta in this bed have the same sun exposure. Ideas?
Four years ago.


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dublinbay z6 (KS)

I will be interested in the answers to this question. Last year I inquired why were my hostas, which I used to call my "monsters," shrinking and shrinking over a couple years, nearly disappearing by the time I posted that question.

The answer one person gave me was that the tree roots were slurping up all the water so the hosta were shrinking from lack of water.

Maybe. I moved most of my hosta along side the house on the western side--further away from trees, but not a lot -- now they get too much sun late in the day when the sun goes lower than the tree branches. My new hosta are doing reasonably well (though not growing by leaps and bounds by any means)--the older shrinking hostas grew a little bit although this year they are not really much larger. They look more like mini hostas instead of monster hostas.

So, I don't really know. However, I do remember that a couple summers ago we had a drought--severe enough that I lost a couple plants (not hostas) and had trouble trying to keep up with the hand watering to get the hosta and others through the summer drought. I wonder now how much that drought had to do with my hosta shrinking--but then, the hosta I gave my neighbor about 6 years ago (the same as my shrinking hostas) didn't shrink in her yard and she grows a lot of hers directly under the biggest old Bradford Pear tree you can imagine--so once again, I'm left wondering what is going on.

Looking forward to some new ideas on this problem.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 3:30PM
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chris-e(7 MD)

I have that problem once in a while too. What I have found in most cases are 1-tree roots and 2-I planted the hostas too deep.

But for some I can't tell you the reason. I also can't tell you how many Fire and Ice and Patriots I have lost. I simply stop buying them, it seems to be a waste of money for me, no matter where I plant them!


    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:27PM
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The biggest factor I found in my garden, no matter what variety, seems to be the amount and quality of the water they receive. Hostas just seem to jump after an all day soaking rain. Most people who live in town and irrigate don't realize that most city water has a ph of 9 or higher which will slowly change the alkaline level upwards which hostas do not like. If at all possible I try to use rain water, but with 600 plus hostas, it sometimes is just not feasible.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:41PM
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hostatakeover z6a swMO

I, too, have found some of my Hostas begin to disappear after only a couple years, and each time it seems to be a combination of tree root competition coupled with the fact that they start to sink and become too deep in the ground (due to dirt settlement, mole activity, etc). But digging them up, removing the competing roots, and replanting in a slightly mounded fashion really gets them going again.

Frustrating, though, because it's so labor intensive and it's like having to replant my Hostas AGAIN.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:50PM
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bernd ny zone5

I have that also occurring to some of my hostas, and try help my hostas.
- Tree roots could be interfering, then I use spinout bags to keep tree roots out, that helped.
- Voles could be eating roots. I put gravel 'fences' underground (6-8 inches deep) around hostas. I did that along the back fence and keep reinforcing that defense. That helped some. I am using now those inexpensive wire mesh waste baskets to keep out voles, plant hostas into the baskets (compressed to 8-10 inches depth) into the soil.
- Not enough water in the heat. I increased my watering, do not have an automatic system.
- Something deficient in the soil. I dug those plants out, actually placed them into garbage. I replaced soil with store bought soil and amendments.
- A long cold winter, happened here. I saw roots actually, plants were heaved out. Cover those with soil and hope for next year.
It is a struggle every year, and then there are viruses.... I also spray against nematodes on those plants and their neighbors which showed nematode damage last year. Some day it will be all under control!!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:52PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

first pic.. whats the tree thats 10 feet away ...

its tree roots.. pure and simple ...

and its the tree roots that make watering harder ...

its the tree roots..

and if you send me a shiny nickle.. i will tell you .. it is tree roots ..


ps: tree roots ... and the intense ground cover.. if its within a foot or two of the crowns.. isnt helping water management ..

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 6:19PM
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What is that ground cover? Is it vinca? If so, vinca & hostas don't get along very good.

Another possibility...now that the hosta are getting more sun, they'll need a lot more water than they did when they were in shade part of the day.

I would remove a lot of the groundcover from around the hostas and see that they get adequate moisture...and, depending on the quality of your soil, maybe a scattering of fertilizer.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 6:55PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

Thanks for the help.

Ken, the tree in the first picture was lost in a wind gust. It was a gum tree, and I couldn't be happier. They seemed to do better when the tree was there.......

The ground cover is vinca. Having somewhat shallow roots, I didn't think there would be that much competition.

I have well water, and I water them about once a week when I wash the cars. We usually get a good amount of rain. I fertilize spring and fall. I also put a shredded leaves on the crown every fall for some added protection and nutrients come spring.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 8:21AM
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Dalylilies are also water guzzlers. Perhaps the daylilies (which are very pretty) are an added competition for water.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 1:16PM
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