Chewed Up Hostas

Q: What causes hostas to be half chewed up by mid August and how can I prevent this happening this year?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

Mimtess from Windsor, Ont.

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A: Mimtess,

Slugs are the likely culprits. If not controlled, Hostas can look pretty raggedy toward the end of the summer. There are several effective organic means of control. Slugs are attracted to stale beer. If you dig a few saucers into the soil near your hostas and fill them up with beer the slugs will climb into the saucers and drown. You can also create physical barriers by placing a line of crushed eggshells, wood ash or dichotomous earth around your plants. The slugs do not like to cross sharp objects and risk injury to their skin. Slugs like to hide during the day. You can trap them by placing boards, stones or overturned pots around the garden and then checking the traps daily to remove them. Garden centers also offer copper rings or flexible copper tape to place around plants. As a slug's body comes into contact with the copper while attempting to climb the ring, a small electrical charge is created, which causes them to retreat.

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March 31, 20060 found this helpful

I'd guess slugs, dirty little things!

I love hostas and keep planting new ones plus dividing older ones. I keep putting egg shells around as many as I can, I've also used sandpaper around them as they will not cross anything that is gritty. There is also beer, haven't used that tho' as seems like too much work & having to dispose of drowned slugs in stagnit beer - UGH! There is always slug bait, but toxic to animals.

I've heard of fine copper wire around the plants also work, gives them a shock? Don't know about that, but plan to try it out this year.

Good luck & long live the hostas!

D. from N. S.

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March 31, 20060 found this helpful

Definately agree with Streatch, slugs damage my hostas every year. I tried the beer and it did work, but found that my dogs like to drink beer so I had to quit that. I also laid out a small plank of lumber and in the morning lifted it up and it was covered with slugs underneath and I would scrape them off into the trash. I have never heard of the copper wire, but I will try it this year for sure!

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April 1, 20060 found this helpful

What about coffee grounds? I know used coffee grounds make excellent plant fertilizer and repel ants, just maybe they will also repel slugs!!

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April 1, 20060 found this helpful

I'm glad I'm not the only one with with problem. Although I'm NOT glad others have it. They're so beautiful early in the year. I'd like to try crushed eggshells, but did you know that nesting birds crave the calcium in eggshells? They might get eaten up by the birds making the slugs happy. As far as beer goes, they're definitely not getting my beer. (haha) I think I'll try the copper wire. It wouldn't be so visible. Sandpaper would get soggy with watering.

Thanks for all your suggestions. I appreciate it very much.

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April 2, 20060 found this helpful

I am wondering if you clip them back to the ground, if the leaves will grow back again in the same season? I do this with other plants on which the foliage gets ratty looking with great success...

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April 3, 20060 found this helpful

I have posted a feedback once. I just read something about slugs on www.thegardenerhelper.com and they said to use egg shells or cedar bark to control slugs. I hope this helps.

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April 3, 20060 found this helpful

Wow! My husband likes using cedar bark so I'll have him add a nice thick layer around the hostas this year. I'll also save egg shells to add to this and see if it helps. Thanks very much for this suggestion.

Carol, I've clipped the leaves off when they're chewed up. I don't know if they grow back again, never really noticed, but the garden does look neater. We have them all down the North side of the house, about 15 of them so keeping them clipped and nice can be more work than it's worth sometimes.

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