Wilting hostas

jimwinoAugust 12, 2014

I have 18 Hosta Junes and about 1/4 of them die back and then sprout back again. The remainder are doing great and have not experienced this problem.
The leaves turn brown like they have died and in a couple of weeks they start again.
Water is not the problem as they all get the same amount. They are all planted within a 20' circle.
What am I doing wrong??

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

water is the ONLY issue ...

and if you are positive they are getting such..

then its the tree they are planted around.. out competing them for it ..

dig out the worst one.. and tell me it isnt being suffocated underground with tree roots ...

are they under a maple...?????

its called summer dormancy... and its ONLY CAUSE... is lack of water ... complicated by heat and drought ....

ken

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 6:35PM
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jimwino

Ok Ken, thanks for the response. The June's are planted in newly excavated soil about 2 feet deep with no possible roots. They are under a black walnut for shade. 3 or 4 will do fine then 2 wilt then 4 good and another wilt.
I'll dig a couple up tomorrow, what am I looking for root wise?

Much appreciated!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 8:16PM
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mac48025

Black walnuts release a toxin called juglans from their roots and fruit that kills plants. That could very well be the cause of the problem.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 8:34PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Never had juglans do anything to my hosta and I have several under a BW's canopy. The roots, however, like any other trees roots, could be taking water and nutrients from the hosta if those roots happen to be particularly dense in a specific spot.

Look for tree roots when you lift the hosta.

tj

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 9:54PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

There's got to be an answer, but we need more info. You say there is no possibility of tree roots. OK. You excavated 2' deep soil. That's deep...I'd fear for the life of the tree! Hostas will wilt and sometimes second flush due to heat dormancy (brought on by lack of water as Ken says above). For SOME reason, the leaves on your plants aren't getting enough water to stand up, whatever that reason is. How long ago did you plant them? Tree roots will grow very quickly into nice watered soil. How much water do they get per week. Could some critters be eating the roots? Do they all get the same amount of sun exposure? We'll get there...
When you dig the wilted ones up you are looking for firm white healthy roots and nicely moist soil.

-Babka

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:37PM
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bragu_DSM 5

what kind of soil are we talking about. you use the word 'excavate'. was this soil really deep in the ground?

pix?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:51AM
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jimwino

The Hostas are planted in soil I leveled out for a trampoline for our grand daughter. They are planted in a semi circle and all the soil came from the same area. All I did was take about a foot of the soil from the upper circle and moved it to the lower part to make the spot level.
I dug the last to wilt and took the pic attached. The plant has already begun to sprout new growth. The soil seemed moist and the roots are white. they were planted spring of 2013 and did fine last summer.
We've had a fairly wet spring and summer but I have the sprinkler on them now.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:59AM
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jimwino

Tree on left of pic is a Black Walnut and there are no roosts into the soil my Hostas are planted in.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:02AM
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jimwino

Pic of excavated Hosta that didn't post last time

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:04AM
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thistleandmaize(Zone 5a- Eastern IA)

Hosta typically do well under black walnuts because they are one of the plants that are not affected by the toxin from black walnut roots. Once you start digging you can smell the roots too if you get near or uncover them.
Could you try a soaker hose instead of sprinkler and see if that helps? Maybe the leaves are getting too wet and the roots not wet enough?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:21PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

If you still have the one you dug up, would you take a hose end sprayer (or your finger over the end to give it more velocity) and spray off all the soil? I see other kinds of roots in there or maybe even some dead hosta roots. Can't tell from the photo

OBTW, this hosing will NOT kill what is left of your plant. This is what the wholesalers have to do to ship things bare root all the time.

Again, how much water do they get each week. 1/4"...1/2"...1"?

-Babka

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:39PM
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jimwino

I've already replanted. I never measured water but at
Least 1/2" per week. What I can't understand is why 3 in the group are fine then 2 wilted, 3 or 4 good then 2 wilted etc......l

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 4:32PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

In your photo I see roots other than hosta roots...those really fine ones. I only grow mine in pots under very different conditions, but depending on your rainfall, I don't think 1/2" per week is enough for hostas that were just planted last year. I'm hoping someone else in your area can give you better advice on how much water they should get. For some reason enough water is not getting to those your hosta roots. Perhaps you can put out a bunch of margarine tubs or small containers next to each hosta, then run your sprinklers and see just how much and how evenly they are getting watered. Dig down 6 or 8" next to the dying ones and see if that water does indeed get there...or if it is running off.

-Babka

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 5:32PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

Hmmm, the items that could be beneath the soil creating heat around those particular hosta, COULD be....water pipes....not likely if you are in a place with winter soil freeze. Or, it could be buried pieces of rock or cement which heat up and evaporate the water, or the hosta requires more water beause of it. Then, it could be the exhaust of a fan? Ummm, a hot breeze from equipment not fans. I'm just reaching here, because like Babka says, there is a SELECTIVITY in the behavior. Not all of them do it. I'm thinking its the same ones which react this way? If I am wrong correct me, don't want to wander down the wrong path here. I can do that when I am all by myself!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 6:45PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Well, if we're reaching...there IS a trampoline in the area and that DOES draw kids not necessarily restricted to the trampoline...

I agree with Babka. Some of those roots appear to be non-hosta, but hard to see.

tj

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:15PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

It looks to me like they are on the edge of a berm. Most of the water may pass right by them. In a raised bed, any plant will take more water. (We plant them in berms for drainage as we have heavy soil.) On the edge, you are likely to lose more than if they were in the center. You may have tree roots taking your water or critters eating the roots, but my guess is that it's running off.

bk

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:38PM
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