Warding Off Pests

Early spring is the time to begin the process of eliminating or reducing the slug population in your hosta garden. Once the last freeze of early spring is behind you, get rid of lingering leaves! Although they provide a nice protective blanket to hosta shoots that may be poking out early, they also provide a habitat for slugs and their eggs.

Then use a pet-friendly slug bait such as Slug Magic, Sluggo, Escargo or any bait that is composed of 1% iron phosphate. Begin by spreading a half dozen or so pellets around each of the emerging hostas. Repeat the process as the season progresses or whenever you see those little holes between the veins of the hosta. Continuing this procedure for a few years could very well eliminate slugs from your garden. Large chunks taken out of the sides of the leaves are almost certainly from cut worms, deer or rabbits, but not slugs.

Deer and rabbits can start to be a problem in the spring as the leaves are nice and tender. Spraying with a deer and or rodent repellent would be a good practice to start. Alternating between two or more sprays is more effective than just using one spray. There are several on the market such as Liquid Fence, Repels All, Dear Stopper (used by the Delaware Botanical Garden) and Animal B Gone to name a few. Liquid Fence can be purchased in a one-liter hand pump container which can be refilled using their diluted concentrate. There are other makes of one-liter hand pump sprayers that can also be used. Keeping two or three of them filled with different solutions makes the spraying a lot easier. Early in the season you can spray directly on the hosta with a very fine spray. Later, as the leaves get bigger, just spray around the hosta or the perimeter of the garden so as not to discolor the leaves. Spray after every rain and once a week if it doesn't rain. Just spraying once doesn't do any good.