Animals and Their Love for Hostas!
Hosta plants are a favorite among garden enthusiasts for adding beauty and texture to landscapes.
However, these appealing landscape plants are not just a treat for human eyes; they’re also quite enticing to a variety of animals. From the curious nibbles of the neighborhood deer to the less noticeable munching of smaller pests that eat hosta leaves.
Indeed, the allure of hostas to certain animals can be a source of dismay for people who love gardening. While the sight of these healthy hostas plants might bring joy and a sense of accomplishment to gardeners, waking up to a garden ravaged by deer or tarnished by the slimy trails of slugs and snails can be disheartening.
In this guide, we’ll delve into the diverse array of creatures that find hostas as irresistible as gardeners do and explore strategies to protect these beloved plants.”
- Animals and Their Love for Hostas!
- A Brief Overview of Hosta Plant
- Animals and Their Love for Hosta Leaves!
- Animals That loves Eating Hosta Plants
- Keep Your Hostas Safe!
- How To Protect Hostas From Being Eaten? – Comprehensive Strategies
A Brief Overview of Hosta Plant
Hostas are perennial plants cherished for their lush and diverse foliage, which can range in color from deep green to blue-green, gold, and even variegated shades with white or yellow margins. The leaves of these garden plants come in various shapes, from lance-shaped to almost round.
Although primarily celebrated for their leaves, hostas also produce tall spikes of trumpet-shaped flowers during the summer, which can be purple, white, or lavender. Ideally suited for shady or partially shady locations, hostas grow in well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter, with a preference for slightly acidic to neutral pH levels.
While they’re hardy in USDA zones 3-9, the specific hardiness can vary based on the variety. Due to their versatility and visual appeal, hostas are a popular choice in landscaping, often used as ground covers, border plants, or focal points in shade gardens.
Animals and Their Love for Hosta Leaves!
Gardeners love growing hostas and admire these cold hardy perennials for their aesthetic appeal and versatility in landscaping, these plants also garner attention from a variety of animals.
For some creatures, hosta leaves are more than just beautiful—they are a delectable treat! This intersection of nature where flora meets fauna provides an intriguing glimpse into the food preferences of certain animals.
Let’s delve into the world of animals and their undeniable attraction to hosta leaves.
Read on to find out about animals that love eating hostas.
Animals That loves Eating Hosta Plants
Hosta pests include the following such as deer, rabbit, slugs and snails, rats, squirrels, and other pests.
Deer love hostas!
When deer eat plants, their main focus is the leaves. Deer damage the hostas by leaving behind the stalks as a reminder of their actions! They are more attracted to the aromatic varieties of Hostas. One easy way to save your plants is to avoid these varieties. Generally, they come in herds and can leave a trail of destruction behind.
You can erect a fence but must remember that deer are jumpers! The height should not be less than 8 feet. It can be a metal or plastic fence.
There are some wireless fences which are also good. Using non-toxic, organic animal repellants can also do the job well. You should be aware that sometimes the deer can get hurt because of high fences.
Rabbits and your favorite hostas don’t go together!! Before you give in to your kids’ demand for pet rabbits, do remember this. They love to nibble on the newly sprouted hosta’s leaves.
If the plants are short enough, then they will devour the flowers as well. You can control pet rabbits, but it is almost impossible to stop wild rabbits and hares from roaming and multiplying freely.
Fences can be useful, but rabbits can burrow and make a tunnel if they want, like robbers!! They are smart enough to figure out a way around or over the fences!
You should clear the weeds which can allow them hiding places as well as food. If you have visual access, then you can take better protection. Sprinkling cayenne pepper on the leaves to protect hostas.
On a funny note, if nothing else works, catch them and start making rabbit stew!!
3. Rats, squirrels, and Other Rodents
Though in size they are smaller than many other animals, in nuisance value, they are far ahead!! During dry weather, squirrels turn to leaves and roots.
Most of these animals and rodents not only eat the leaves and stalks of the hosta plants but also dig under and chew up the roots! These are very small and very fast and very difficult to detect.
No plant can survive an attack on its roots! To protect your plants, you can try to fence or cage them. It is both time-consuming and expensive.
You will have to protect the roots as well by burying steel mesh around them. You can try sprinkling spicy sauce or pepper to discourage these little bandits! Hopefully, they will not treat this as a seasoning on their food!
4. Slugs and Snails
You can call these the ‘silent destroyers’! Slugs and snails are tiny, slow, and slimy, but they make up for this in numbers. They always come in big numbers. Snails and slug damage hostas leaves Once they finish with your hostas, all that you can see are tiny holes in the leaves and their shiny trails!
Moreover, they don’t make any noise, so to detect them is also not easy. It will surprise you to see the level of destruction these small creatures can cause!
Home remedies like sprinkling dried and crushed eggshells or Epsom salt around the plant can work well.
As slug and snail like damp place. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your hostas. Diatomaceous earth, comprised of the fossilized remains of diatoms, acts as a desiccant, absorbing the fats and oils from the exoskeletons of crawling pests, causing them to dehydrate and die. For best results:
- Ensure the ground around the hostas is dry.
- Lightly sprinkle DE around the base of the hostas, creating a barrier.
- Reapply after heavy rains, as water can reduce its effectiveness.
Some people keep beer traps. Keeping beer in small tins around your garden will attract snails and slugs with the smell. They will sip some and may get drunk and fall into the tins.
If you think this is not very humane, then you will have to remove them manually. This is hard work and time consuming as well. If you see any garter snakes or toads around, let them be!
They will help you in your fight against slugs and snails in the most natural way.
Several insects also find your hosta plants very attractive! Unfortunately, it is difficult to catch them and almost impossible to recognize which type of insects is destroying your plants.
Black vine weevils, beetles, grasshoppers, cutworms, and many more insects can finish off the hostas in a very short time. Let discuss them in detail below:
1- Black Vine Weevils
Black Vine Weevils, scientifically known as Otiorhynchus sulcatus, are small, dark-colored beetles with an elongated shape, typically measuring between 1/4 to 1/2 inch in size. Recognizing them is important as they have a significant impact on hosta plants.
These weevils feed primarily on the leaves of hosta, resulting in distinctive notched or scalloped or ragged edges on the leaves. This feeding damage can lead to reduced plant vigor, stunted growth, and an overall decline in the aesthetic appeal of hosta plants.
To control these insects, various methods can be employed. These include handpicking weevils at night when they are active and disposing of them in soapy water, introducing natural predators like parasitic nematodes and predatory ground beetles, and using insecticides specifically labeled for weevil control.
Cultural practices such as maintaining a clean area around hosta plants, pruning and removing heavily infested foliage, and applying physical barriers can also help mitigate infestations. Additionally, systemic insecticides applied to the plant’s roots can provide long-term protection.
2- Blister beetles and leaf beetles
Blister beetles and leaf beetles are two common types of insects that can have a significant impact on hosta plants. Blister beetles are elongated insects with soft bodies, often ranging from half an inch to an inch in length.
They come in various colors, including black, gray, or striped patterns, making identification challenging. Leaf beetles, on the other hand, have a more oval-shaped body and are often brightly colored, such as metallic greens, reds, or blues, which can help distinguish them. Recognizing these beetles is crucial as they can cause damage to hosta plants.
Both blister and leaf beetles feed on the leaves of hosta plants, resulting in characteristic patterns of holes, notches, or skeletonized foliage.
To control blister beetles and leaf beetles on hosta plants, you can either use an insecticide labeled for ornamental plants or opt for insecticidal soap or neem oil sprays.
Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that can wreak havoc on hosta plants. These pests are usually green or yellow but can come in various colors. They’re identified by their pear-shaped bodies and the presence of two tube-like structures called cornicles on their hind ends. Aphids feed by sucking sap from hosta leaves
To control aphids on hosta plants, use insecticidal soap or neem oil sprays. Introduce natural predators like ladybugs or lacewings, and encourage beneficial insects in the garden.
4- Cut worms
Cutworms pose a significant threat to hosta seedlings during the early spring. These voracious larvae, originating from various moth species, typically target the base of plants at the soil line, potentially causing severe damage or even the death of younger plants.
To disrupt the lifecycle of cutworms, it’s advisable to pull out dead foliage during late fall or winter. By doing so, you eliminate potential nesting sites for adult moths, reducing their ability to lay eggs near hostas.
Another effective control method is the application of insecticides specifically formulated for ornamental plants.
5- Plant Parasitic Nematodes
There are two types of Plant Parasitic Nematodes, which are as following:
i) Foliar Nematodes
Foliar nematodes, scientifically known as Aphelenchoides species, are microscopic roundworms that infest and feed on the hosta leaves . These pests cause angular, brown lesions between leaf veins, giving the foliage a distinct blotched appearance.
Identification can be confirmed by observing symptoms and, at a more advanced level, by extracting and microscopically examining the nematodes from the damaged tissue.
Controlling foliar nematodes in hostas involves practices like removing and destroying infected leaves, avoiding overhead watering to reduce the spread, and applying appropriate nematicides.
Moreover, maintaining plant health and ensuring proper spacing can also help in mitigating the damage caused by these nematodes.
ii) Root Knot Nematodes
Root-knot nematodes, primarily from the Meloidogyne genus, are microscopic worms that target the roots of various plants, including hostas. These nematodes form galls or “knots” on the roots, disrupting the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients.
Infected hostas often show signs of stunted growth, wilting, and yellowing, even with adequate watering. To identify a root-knot nematode infestation, one should uproot a symptomatic plant and look for the characteristic swollen nodules on the roots.
to be honest , they live in soil for years because they don’t need a host and it nearly impossible to get rid of these knot nematodes. For control, it’s vital to practice crop rotation, use nematode-resistant varieties, and employ soil solarization. Additionally, certain biocontrol agents and nematicides can be effective in managing these nematodes.
Moreover, clean your gardening tools when dealing with infected hostas and other plants.
Diseases and Pathogens
1- Crown Rot, Fusarium Root
Fusarium Root and Crown Rot is a detrimental fungal disease affecting your hosta plant, caused by the fungus Fusarium spp. This disease leads to the yellowing and wilting of leaves, often accompanied by a reddish-brown discoloration of the crown and roots.
To identify the presence of this rot, gardeners can look for a significant decline in plant vigor and inspect the root system for any noticeable rotting.
To control the disease, you need to remove the infected plant with the roots and dispose it off properly. Using disease-free planting material can significantly reduce the disease’s spread and impact.
Regular fungicide applications might also offer protection against this fungal menace.
2- Hosta Virus X
Hosta Virus X (HVX) is a viral disease specifically targeting hostas. This virus manifests in hostas as irregular blue or green streaks or mottling on the leaves, leading to discolored and deformed foliage. Infected plants often display reduced vigor.
To identify HVX, look for distinct color changes in the leaf tissue, especially blue or green streaks that are inconsistent with the plant’s normal variegation pattern. It’s vital to understand that once a plant is infected, there is no cure.
Control measures include promptly removing and destroying infected plants to prevent the spread, as the virus can be easily transmitted through contaminated garden tools or by handling infected plants.
It’s essential to disinfect gardening tools regularly and to always purchase and propagate plants from reputable sources to ensure they are HVX-free.
Keep Your Hostas Safe!
Prevention is half the job done! You spend a lot of money and time on your garden, and to see it destroyed can really be traumatic. Take the right steps at the right time to protect the plants. Here is a recap.
- Build a fence around the yard if possible
- Plant less aromatic hostas
- To protect roots, fit a wire mesh around it.
- Fabric and wire enclosures are good with small insects.
- Use pesticides with caution
- Special repellents are better for protection.
- Beer traps for slugs and snails
- Remove pests with hands if nothing else works.
The more you keep things natural and organic, the better it is for the plants, animals, land, and the environment.
How To Protect Hostas From Being Eaten? – Comprehensive Strategies
Here are unique strategies to protect your hostas:
1. Fencing Solutions
A physical barrier can prevent larger animals like deer and rabbits from feasting on your hostas. When installing a mesh fence or chicken wire around your garden or the area where you’ve planted your hostas, ensure it’s tall enough to deter deer and dig into the ground slightly to deter burrowing animals.
2. Motion-Sensor Deterrents
A sudden movement or noise can startle and deter many animals. Installing motion-activated sprinklers or lights can be perfect to deter rabbits, hedgehogs, and squirrels. When these creatures approach the hostas, the sudden burst of water or light can scare them away.
3. Castor Oil Spray
Castor oil is a natural repellent for many burrowing animals like moles and voles. To use it, make a solution: Mix 1/3 cup of plant-safe soap solution with five gallon water and add 3 cups of castor oil and mix well.
Spray this solution around your hostas, especially on the soil. You can also use castor oil pellets. Apply this in spring and early summer.
4. Homemade Repellents
Natural, homemade solutions can deter many pests without the use of chemicals. Create a mixture of crushed garlic, hot pepper, and water. Spray this concoction on and around your hostas. The strong smell and taste can deter many animals.
5. Iron Phosphate Application
Iron phosphate is a natural compound that is toxic to many pests, particularly slugs and snails. It can be used in powered form and in pallets. Spread iron phosphate pellets around the base of your hostas.
When consumed by pests, it disrupts their feeding habits, causing them to stop eating your hostas and die shortly after. But remember not to overfeed phosphorus or iron.
Now you know the answer to the question about animals that eats hostas’? Just planting the hostas is not enough; it needs protection from the sneaky animals and insects to thrive.
Hopefully, you will not have these problems, but if you do, you are now ready to take on these pests! We feel that this information will help you.
Do share your thoughts and get in touch with us for any doubts. You have already done the most important thing! You are now aware of the animals that are eating your hostas and causing the damage.
Always remember that the plants are important, but animals and insects are necessary for a natural balance of the environment. Be responsible while protecting your plants.
Avoid taking drastic steps that may harm animals and other creatures while you try to protect the plants.