How do you keep your hosta's looking beautiful?

bishop5(5 IA)August 19, 2014

My hostas look pretty poor compared to the pictures many of you proud owners post. One big pest is carpenter ants, the other I'm guessing is slugs, and finally my husband!

I'd like to stay as organic as possible, but I'm not opposed to using a pesticide if necessary. Also, what do you all advise for fertilizer and how often. I have not fed my plants at all this year, but most are planted in rich black Iowa dirt.

To my defense, I did not care much about my hosta's until my husband started expanding our driveway, adding retaining walls, making gravel pathways, and bringing in mounds of dirt. With all this nonsense came moving plants and I might add ... not so nicely. I had not choice but to come to the rescue.

I have since found this forum and have come to enjoy my new gardening hobby, that is now centered around hostas. You all provide a wealth of information. I look forward to logging on everyday!!

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With my plants, a lot of it, as far as pest damage goes, is just the good luck of being in a climate that snails and slugs don't seem to like. It's arid here where I live, so i just water, water, water and when I have the occasional pest issues, I try to use 'appropriate' insecticides, so as not to kill pollinators. I really make an effort to try and not do that. They help keep US alive, so it's the least I can do. : )

Sometimes I see caterpillar/cutworm damage...Believe it or not, the biggest problems for me, by far, are pill bugs! When the population explodes, like it is this season, they are everywhere. Snail and slug pellets seem to work real well to control them.

Plus, yeah, sometimes those spouses are real pesty. For that, I just keep the lawn mowed, edged and fairly weeded. Keeps my wife happy. : )

I only fertilize with the nice dirty water I get from my fish pond, but rich soil and water are what's working for me to get mine to grow well, I guess. No doubt you'll get a lot of good information from having started this thread. Good luck, and HAVE FUN!

Don B.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:47PM
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mac48025 ( SE michigan)

I'm sure you'll get many suggestions and the truth is they probably all work. I use a simple approach. Good soil, raised bed, lots of water and deadline for slug control. It's the only chemical I use in the garden as I can't stand slug damage. It's not as easy to obtain as the ortho product but it works so much better. I fertilize in early spring with an organic fertilizer and try to place my hosta's in the best lighting as possible and I'm still learning which prefer more or less sun. I'm not saying mine is the only or best approach, but simple is best works for me.

Sounds like the hubby has been busy and you have a lot of new beds to plant. Have fun wandering the gravel paths!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 2:24PM
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Bishop - Don has provided you with great info, and has wonderful hosta to show for it.

Some folks have their soil tested to determine what the best fertilizer to use is. I use a slow release formula in the Spring when the new shoots start to appear. A rule of thumb is that hosta require at least 1" of water per week; but that depends on the climate you live in. Spreading some form of mulch helps the soil to retain moisture, also.

Here in Delaware, I am fortunate not to be plagued with slugs or fungal damage and have some occasional bug damage. Deer have become a problem this year. I use Liquid Fence and it has been a good preventative for me.

Looking forward to seeing your great hosta photos in the near future.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 2:40PM
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stoc zone 6 sweden

I'm still a newbie my self.I had the soil tested for free at a garden center this spring and then used a slow release that is good for hostas.I forget the numbers on it right now??
I have also found that the hostas love Organic seaweed-I get it on Amazon and it is not expensive ,just dilute it with water and give it to them every now and then.Especially earlier in the season.
I'm in Europe so I use Nematodes to handle the slugs,they work really well and don't hurt anything else.

When I planted tteh hostas I also added alfalfa powder to the planting hole.I wanted to cover all the bases--and it seems to be paying off.They look fabulous this year.
Here is a link that I used for info on fertilizing.

Here is a link that might be useful: fertilizer

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 3:17PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hosta grow on the driveway.. i dont know what a soil test will tell you ... lol .. its Iowa farm dirt for God sake ... got any corn down your way ... lol .... this aint inner city sludge ... see link ...

its too late to fert in my z5 MI ... we want them slowing down for winter.. not juiced on steroids ... and then an early frost/freeze ....

there is an FAQ on slug hunting.. here .... as well as in the clinic forum ...

and.... most likely.. increase water.. 100% ...

there are a couple great growers and sellers in IA .... visit them.. BS with them ... find out how and what they do ... and then do it ... if i am not mistaken.. Josh's garden is a couple feet of manure .... that his BIL hoiks around the garden ....

IA is one of the top 3 to 5 hosta states... join a local club ... you will learn so much.. and get soooo addicted.. lol ..


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 3:50PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

as to your title.. i dont...

mine probably look like yours..

so what .. its almost sept .. the days dwindle down.. to a precious few ...

refer to the link ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 4:22PM
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Benign neglect preceded by diligent, early-season slug deterrent in the form of crushed eggshells sprinkled--generously--around the base of each plant in spring when hostas begin to emerge. Also, as someone else mentioned, mulched raised beds.

Healthy soil, definitely. Mine tends toward acidic sandy loam which they seem to enjoy based on my experience.

I haven't fertilized a hosta over the course of growing them--the no-names as well as named cultivars--the last 35+ years. I'd worry about some of them if I did: many that were rated as "medium" have grown to HUGE sizes that have outgrown their allotted spaces in my garden beds. One bed I laid out in particularly finite detail included mostly medium to large cultivars such as Krossa Regal & Regal Splendor. The mediums have now outgrown KR & RS. It's annoying--I laid a cement path along the edge of the bed which is now beneath the overgrown hosta leaves.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 9:52PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

Gardenweed, that's got to be so tough, all that outrageous growth on your hostas. I'd take a weed-wacker to them, if they did that in my yard. LOL :)

Ahhh, to have that trouble...

Clay soil (well-amended, of course, but clay none-the-less) and a Southern climate. The hostas still do well here, despite all that. You'll find the tweaks for your area that help. Either way, they're not going to be bad...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 10:20PM
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bishop5(5 IA)

Thank you everyone and Ken for the links. I've decided not to amend soil or fertilize to allow the Hosta's to naturally prepare for winter. I am however going to dig some up and relocate or replant in the same spot, but at the appropriate depth. Being clueless most we're planted incorrectly ( too deep) which I learned about from this forum.

Carpenter ants and slugs beware I am on the hunt!!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 10:50PM
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funnthsun - the thought of dividing these monsters is daunting. If I ever have enough $$ to pay someone, I'll do it in a heartbeat. Then the problem becomes, what to do with the divisions? Maybe the neighbors...

Somebody stole my weed-whacker right out of the garage about 4 years ago so that's no longer an option but I appreciate the suggestion.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 8:00PM
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