vole damage; not a question but an example

hostaLes(5)August 5, 2012

I like to think that like me there are a lot of learning and emerging hostaholics that lirk and learn. This is for them and hope they will begin posting soon. Here is a Wide Brim that has been predated by voles. I'd found the hole behind the plant under the foliage.

She will be dug up tommorrow and probably potted in two pots for rescueing. She will be replace by trading a mature Blue Angel for a mature Wide Brim in spring. Hopefully the two rescued divisions will thrive and will enhance some other hosta lovers garden, like Bobbi's across the street.

I know that experienced hosta growers don't like to take pictures of ugly hostas, but if we don't how better to teach others without the pain of their losses.

Do any other of you have a photo of one or more of your hosta that have been ravaged by voles?


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I don't have a pic, but a few years ago I had a few hosta that looked very much like that, at this time of year. I thought they we going into early dormancy. Then one day I decided to tug on one and the whole thing came up, revelaing all the roots chewed completely off. So yeah, if you see any starting to look super stressed out, check for voles.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 3:16PM
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If you look closely you can see the darker soil at the 2:00 position.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 3:37PM
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I see that darker soil. Do not think I have voles here. But I sure have squirrels burying pecans in the flower pots. Before they sprout it is easy to dig them up, but after the little pecan treelets grow, it is like pulling a board in sideways. The squirrels do not bother filling in their planting holes though, so I find where they've been if I catch it before a rain.

Why do you have to give away the Wide Brim? Can you not keep it in a pot? Just turn it on its side for the winter?
I do not have one, but the pictures look really fine.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 4:40PM
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I would LOVE to send you one; or both. Wide Brim is a gorgeous hosta and as long as I am not without I'd love to share dear.

Most vole holes are only about 3/4" in diameter and squirrel diggings are much larger.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 6:20PM
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Maybe we could exchange the Wide Brim divisions for a bag or two of pecans. :)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 6:28PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Get one of these.

Big Snap-E


    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:27PM
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oh wow ... the big snap E...impressed

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Aren't you worried the Blue Angel will meet the same fate or have you already taken care of the vole(s)?

I was just watering last week and saw a vole dart under a rock at my hosta bed - I think it is time for me to make war! Would you go with a trap like the big snap or poison? What kind of success/failures have you had with the options available?


    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 2:08PM
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I had no luck with traps. I dug moats around my larger hosta and filled them with gravel. With anything smaller, I moved them into pots or buried cages. I will never plant another hosta in the ground again without some sort of vole protection. I won't use poison because I have dogs.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 2:21PM
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I have a Wide Brim suffering a similar fate, but I think it's squirrels in my example. It's in a pot about 12" off the ground. Every time I put in new soil, I come out the next morning and there is soil everywhere but in the pot....It took me a few weeks to figure out what was going on, so I looked and we were practically bare-rooted on one side......Going to put chicken wire over the pot.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 2:22PM
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HostaLes, Thank you for posting an example of what may befall our beloved hosta. I've been lurking here since early this summer and have learned so much from the forum members. In the four years since acquiring my first two hosta, I have only added 27 registered hosta...so far. From colleagues, I have swales of green NOIDS, green & white NOIDS and several H. plantagineas.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 3:51PM
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I did find a picture from my "year of the voles". You can see that they polished off virtually all the roots. They got about a dozen plants, total.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 4:11PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

Yikes!! I bet you wanted to cry!


    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:20PM
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Luckily, the ones the voles got were not my very favorites....but it was bad enough to make me want to make sure it never happened again. When I think about all the hosta pests out there, voles are the worst offenders for me. They do so much damage before you even know they are there...IF you even know it. Many times they eat stuff from below while the ground is still covered in snow, apparently.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:58PM
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I wanted to add that the three hosta in that pic were all 'Americana'...there were three, two year old plants. I clumped the stalks together and stuck them in a pot and they survived. They are now one plant, but they lived. So unless they eat the crown, I imagine most will survive...but dang, you don't want that to happen to a mature specimen.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 9:44PM
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No pictures here but my Mother has lost at least ten hostas in the last year due to voles. Traps were working for a little while but I think they've smartened up. Do voles target a specific size root system or is any hosta "game"?


    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 9:59PM
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The Wide Brim was dug up yesterday,bare rooted and soaked in water and I potted 3 divisions and gave one to my girlfriend Bobbi across the street. It had roots similar to coll's but I'd gotten to them sooner. Hopefully it will become four. I forgot to take pictures but I will today and post what remains plus a picture of how it looked just last year.

ps. This is Theresa's post so I am going to leave it up to her. It's taken me a year to get her to stop lurking and I don't want her to stop. Before whenever she had something to say her thinking was "I'd just be posting what you are telling me to so just go post it yourself"


    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 7:28AM
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Do you find a small-ish tunnel leading to the root and maybe away from the root? I found a hosta on it's side today and found a tunnel at the base and many of the roots destroyed. I have way too many hostas to protect each but for those of you with vole damage, was there a tunnel at the root?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 2:26PM
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eclecticcottage(6b wny)

One tried to get one of my Honeybells. I dug it out and plopped in water for about a week. Just today I pulled it out to find new roots growing. I dug a bigger hole where it was, put in a large (5? gallon pot), filled the bottom with stone and planted Honeybells in the pot. Can't even tell it's potted there now.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Cindy, I can't remember if there was a nearby hole. When I started looking, I found tunnels all over the garden. I have raised beds with stacked stones as edging, and the nooks between the rocks give the rodents easy access points.

The one thing I did do with my large hosta in the ground was spread a lot of gravel under them. Won't help against lateral tunneling, but should help discourage vole digging right at the base of the plant.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 5:10PM
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I have holes about an inch in diameter all over my yard, so it isn't as if evidence of voles spell doom and gloom. My son-in-laws dachsie goes crazy in my yard. I had absolutely no evidence of serious damage to my hostas because they seem to have targeted my acorn squash more in the past. If this works I am perfectly willing to plant a diversion crop to protect my hostas. :)

I can buy acorn squash to eat while hostas take years to grow into beauties. I can show pics that when I was able to return home after my knee surgery my Wide Brim looked fine. It may have been surviving years of predation but with this years drought, heat, and my lack of administering tlc, it succumbed.

When I'd made the decision to lift it I'd found the hole just behind what was left of the crown. Normally I would have lifted it sooner, but with my bad leg even after extensive PT using a shovel was really hard on me.

But I survived, and with the three salvaged eyes now showing regrowth I think my Wide Brim will too. But her absence has left a big hole in my garden.

Yes I am concerned about my other hostas being predated on by voles. But I truly believe that with proper watering and fertilization hostas are strong enough to overcome the damage. Naturally, I would be happier if they didn't have to. But vole control, as is evident in forum members responses, can be labor intensive. The more we have the more labor needed.

ken, with a professed more than 1000 hostas can't conceivably set enough mouse traps to control vole damage.

I was only able to pot three single or double eye division survivors of my Wide Brim, but they are showing new growth. However the hole in my garden will be filled with a mature Wide Brim of my daughter Leslie's in exchange for one of my Blue Angels. So hopefully I will have 3 potted Wide Brim to give to new hosta girlfriends that I have developed that show the potential to become "hooked on Hostas". That is how we can ensure the strength of our cherished hobby. :)


    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 5:59PM
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