Hostas being attacked...please help

J_PowersAugust 16, 2013


I've never posted here before, but I'm hoping to get some help with my plants.

Last year I planted 2 Paul's Glory, 2 Patriot, and 1 Fire and Ice in the back of my townhouse. Everything came back, but this year we had ridiculous amounts of rain in July, which the slugs seemed to like. I planted 3 beer and yeast traps next to them with some success, but the raccoons eventually acquired a taste for beer and slug cocktails. At that point, I temporarily stopped putting traps out there.

If you look at the pictures, it seems like there's more than just a slug and insect problem. The growth of the Patriots are severely stunted and take the most abuse, while the Paul's Glories are doing pretty well, under the circumstances. Also, the Fire and Ice isn't doing much, but I read that they're slow to establish. Even so, I might end up moving that one to the other side.

I've never seen so much destruction by insects, and at this point, I'm fed up trying to entice slugs and what I suspect are earwigs with beer. Stronger measures need to be taken, even if that means chemicals, which I hate.

As for the stunted and strange growth issue with the Patriots, I searched online last night and was wondering if I might possibly have purchased those two plants pre-infected with "Hosta Virus X." If you look at the pictures in the following website, they look similar in appearance to my Patriot leaves:

So, should I destroy the two Patriots (if they look infected), and what would be the best way to kill those bugs? Thank you for reading, and I appreciate any help!

This post was edited by J_Powers on Fri, Aug 16, 13 at 22:07

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Second image

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 10:01PM
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Third image

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 10:02PM
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Fourth image

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 10:03PM
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Lol at your raccoons developing a taste for "beer and slug cocktails"! Gross...but also funny. :)

Most of that appears to be slug damage with a possibility of some earwig damage as well.

As far as HVX goes, you can't be sure unless you buy some test strips and test your plants. I've looked at pics of HVX symptoms in 'Patriot' and I see what you mean...the collapsed tissue does look similar. However, I've seen some similar symptoms in my hostas when they've received some sort of frost damage or other problems from wierd weather.

I'm sure others here can give you further advice, but my advice would be to test your plants before you throw them out. Unfortunately, the test strips are very expensive (25 strips for $105). I don't know if it would be worth it to you to test them or not. Since your plants appear to have some nice looking new growth, you may wait until next year to see if they show the same symptoms. I've included a link for the HVX test strips in case you'd like to check those out.

If you decide to dig them up, be sure to be really careful not to accidentally dig into other plants. Also, sterilize your tools right after you do the digging, as the virus is easily spread from plant to plant by using non-sterilized tools. You'll also want to throw the plants directly in the garbage. Do not compost them. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: HVX test strips

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 10:24PM
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Take a leaf closeup of the areas you are worried about for hvx - I tried to blow up your photo to see detail, but I don't see anything conclusive.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 11:32PM
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sandyslopes z5 n. UT

I don't see anything all that alarming, but I'd listen to some of the heavy hitters who really know hosta.

If you want test strips, you can click on that 25 number and bring down the menu. Then it shows you can order only 5 for $32.50.

For snails and slugs, iron phosphate, ... I use Sluggo, sold at HD and Lowes and it does a good job for me. I try to be as organic as possible, but sometimes we need a little help, and iron phosphate is said not to be harmful except to snails and slugs. So far, so good, as far as I know in my yard.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 1:50AM
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Thanks for the responses. flower-frenzy, thank you for the link! Paul, I attached an image. It didn't come out that well, but maybe you can see what I'm talking about. The growth isn't normal. sandyslopes, I'll look into iron phosphate. I used diazinon to kill earwigs over 10 years ago, but that's nasty stuff, and I'm pretty sure it's illegal now. I prefer to be organic now, but sometimes it's not worth the frustration.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 12:36PM
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Insect damage, edge dessication, slug damage.....and some corrugation (bumples).....don't see tissue collapse or bleeding from HVX.

Check Bug-geta Plus....the plus has some insect control (earwigs) as well as slug and snail. Doesn't take a lot. Put some down when pips are forming in spring and again in June and I bet you see big difference. MIL had slugs in a border of undulata types in past - virtually damage free this year after I treated.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 3:26PM
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My post disappeared. How strange! Anyway, I'm relieved to know that I probably don't have HVX. As I mentioned in my missing post, I'm concerned about the odd curvature on my older Patriot leaves. They came out like this from the beginning.

Thank you for the Bug-geta Plus suggestion. This sounds perfect for my problem. Would it be a problem to add this now, late in the season? My beer traps were FULL of big slugs yesterday. I'm starting to wonder if the soil, manure or mulch I got from Lowe's last year was contaminated. If I do it now, this might help prevent more damage in the spring.

Sorry to sound stupid, but what does "MIL" stand for?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 4:05PM
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Yes, use it now and again in fall to start knocking down the population. Some reuse as they see disappear with the rains as well. Sorry, MIL = Mother-in-Law.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 5:26PM
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Oh, that's what a MIL is! Sounds good, I'll give it a try. You've been really helpful. Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 12:11AM
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