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Hostas and pine needles

Posted by wyldflower 5 (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 18, 07 at 17:04

It's that time of the year and the pine needles are dropping like crazy, including all over my hosta beds. In the past I cleared them off as best I could, but this year I'm wondering if I should let them act as a winter cover? In the Hosta Handbook it notes that pine needles are good mulch for hostas...but will they hurt the plants themselves? Thanks for your help.
Vivian


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Hostas and pine needles

there are people who pay a lot of money to have them trucked in ...

get your exercise doing something else ...

ken


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Pine needles are wonderful for hosta as mulch.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

My wife keeps telling me that pine needles are perfect places for slugs to hide in. Any truth to that?


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Slugs will find a place there is no haven for slugs to avoid. Others believe that slugs repel slugs which is also not true. In fact I just found slug eggs last night right on top of absolutely bare soil.


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pine needles & slugs

sorry; others believe that pine needles repel slugs which is also not true.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

My hostas do beautifully under large limbed spruce which have been dropping needles for the last century. The soil is incredibly easy to work with. Call me lucky. but I haven't seen a slug or slug damage for a couple of years now ... perhaps the only good aspect of a protracted drought which has finally come to an end.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

The only thing I can add is what I've observed from my DIL's hosta beds. She has very tall limbed up pines and her hostas grow like nobody's business! She RARELY waters and never does anything to prevent slugs. Yet...her hostas grow huge and fast....AND....she never has any slugs.

I cannot say the same about my yard (no pines and only 11 house away) and I ammonia spray every two weeks! Sorry, EO, but you'll not convince me that the pine needles don't repel slugs. Seein' is believin'.

Char


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

My mother lived in Augusta Ga in a pine forest and had lots of slugs.

Because someone has pines and no slugs is not proof that pine needles repels slugs and I'm not trying to convince you. But your proof is one yard. BTW I have slugs under my pines.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Char, I agree with you. I have pines and no slugs also.
Maybe it depends on the type of pine, who knows?
My entire W. side is lined with 8 huge pines, and when we bought this house my DH hauled out about 8 pickup loads of needles, they were so deep underneath. (We thought we were gonna regrow the grass under there lol) Well, the Hosta bug hit the following year, so the rest is history....
EO--I read an article not long ago that said pines are effective in repelling slugs because pine needles are acidic, and as they decompose, the cause great distress to slugs, because need a slightly alkaline surface to move on, so it must be a slime thing. Either way, I have never had a slug here in over 10 years, and the new beds I've started that aren't under the pines I am adding pine needles to from our neighbor's trees because they rake them into a big pile every year, free for the taking before they haul them off.
This is the South side of the house looking west

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
This is the North side

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

OOOoooooooOOooh, HostaRox, I'm so envious about these photos that I tried to see your whole album at photobucket, hoping for some close-ups, but it's got password protection.

I have tried to make my gardenweb album over there public, but I don't know if I've succeeded... here's the link, if you click it and don't see anything, please let me know. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Lisa Small's GardenWeb Album at PhotoBucket


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Your Photobucket account is password protected. If you go to your "account options" about halfway down the page is a link to edit your acccount where you'll be able to switch it from private to public. : )


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Lisa, I tried but it asked for a password.
Funny you liked the two pics I just posted. I was just trying to show the pines. I just took them today. The Hostas aren't looking too swell anymore--but there's always next year to look forward to!! ;-))


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

EO--I read an article not long ago that said pines are effective in repelling slugs because pine needles are acidic, and as they decompose, the cause great distress to slugs, because need a slightly alkaline surface to move on, so it must be a slime thing."

Research done by many people including Dr. Abigail Manynard at the UCONN Agricultural Research Station in New Haven, Conn has shown that there is no significant change in soil pH after years of adding oak leaves or pine needles to that soil.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Either way....I still don't have slugs!! ;-))

No scientific study needed here. Everything I have ever read about composting says to add pine needles to raise the acidity of the compost. Besides, my soil is slightly acidic anyway.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles / photobucket

Iowa, HostaRox, thanks for letting me know. The guest password is "garden."

I tried to make PhotoBucket make some of my sub-albums public and it won't let me do that, and it won't let me set public/private for each photo. Another reason I should port everything over to Flickr, I guess. I like that Flickr lets people comment directly on the photos, too.

I haven't uploaded any photos at Flickr yet, except a tiny pic of my late dog to be my avatar. Unfortunately, there are a few photos on Flickr labeled "lisasmall" (as subject, not author) who are not me; a tennis jock and some woman with bad facial bruising. Yipes!

Upsides and downsides to every free service, I guess. :) I didn't mean to hijack this thread, so I'll stop now. *blush*


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Lisa, I'm looking forward to seeing the photos and I guess unless you hijacked every thread anything you want to say or do is ok with me.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Lisa, I enjoyed your pics alot--except for the spider ones lol. I just had to open the one with the "spider face"
to give myself the shivers! I also emailed you.
Rox


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

I enjoyed your album pix too Lisa!
On the subject of slugs and pine needles-I've observed the same thing at my old and new garden.
The old garden was treated with iron phosphate throughout for slugs. The bed under a huge white pine never had slug damage so I stopped applying slug bait to it.
The new garden was also treated periodically with iron phosphate. There was slug damage in some areas but none in the two beds that are sheltered by white pines.
So...not sure if it's the type of tree, soil or what exactly is going on but... in another area with no pine trees I have a damp, shady bed that I cannot get under slug control no matter how much I do. I'm going to try a little experiment with it, gathering up a bunch of the pine needles that are falling now and mulch that slug prone bed. Worth a shot to see if it will make a difference.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Shade have you used ammonia to treat for slugs, and now would be a good time.

Fill a hose-end sprayer with ammonia full strength and let the sprayer mix the ammonia then saturate the ground around the plants during the day. Spraying the plants requires spraying when the slugs are there, they are always under the plants.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

It's possible what's being overlooked is that slugs thrive where it's moist and dark; are most active at night or on cloudy or foggy days.

There might be some merit to switching from sprinkler irrigation to drip irrigation which will reduce humidity and moist surfaces, making the habitat less favorable for slugs. While I fully understand that the object of one's affection gets most of one's attention, maybe it would be better altogether to eschew watering hostas every day twice a day for the entire growing season creating a constantly damp and extremely attractive environment for these little pests. What could be better than wet soil and all those beautiful ground hugging leaves both to eat and hide under?

For me - and not trying to state absolute truth or sway any opinion one way or another - beneath spruce was my only available hosta garden space. Because of the years of litter, the soil is loose and nice and incredibly easy to dig deep in - I doubt that the litter has increased acidity to any great, if even measureable, degree. I also doubt that it is of any real benefit to slug control.

By my observation in my own yard, what has probably been the greatest factor in controlling slugs for the last couple of seasons is drought - extreme lack of meaningful rainfall on any regular basis. My small collection of 25 or so carefully chosen hostas are not a source of great gardening angst for me - and they get precious little supplemental water. Even with the benign neglect, they flourish. Now that the season is over, we're finally getting plenty of rain, and my hostas are finally taking on a yellow tinge. But on the 20th. of October, it matters not since up here in the Northland, it could snow tomorrow then it's a long wait until spring.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Very well put duluthinbloomz4. Pines/Evergreens prefer acidic soil to thrive, they just don't make it very acidic on there own.


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Allnitro, very true leading to the belief that Pines cause acidic conditions. It is said that plants select for the organisms they need and organisms select for the plants they need. So the soil will support pines and they appear and prosper then those plants influence what organisms live in that ecosystem. It is our good fortune with hosta that if we feed the soil hosta will live almost anywhere they are planted then select for the organisms they need and prosper. Many times it takes 3+ years for a hosta to begin to do well in a particular spot. This is a soil point not light or moisture.

Very complicated, very interesting and truly amazing!


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

Thanks EO for the advice but I have already sprayed with ammonia in that particularly damp area but it didn't help. I've searched high and low in this bed and can rarely find a slug there, possibly something else at work there or else the world's tiniest slugs!

Duluth, I'm notorious for not watering my hostas very much, lol. My damp garden bed is damp by its own choice, no supplemental watering. It is equally as shady as the beds under the pines but the hostas under the pines fare better.

I'm still going to try importing the pine needles to the problem bed and see what comes of it. I'll report back if I get positive results next year :-)


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RE: Hostas and pine needles

shade, I'm curious have you found slugs or snails, a possibility.


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