Hostas forum: Hosta beds fall cleanup?

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Name: Julie
Roanoke, VA (Zone 7a)
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floota
Oct 26, 2013 9:21 AM CST
I'm looking for some tips from the experts here, after seeing several world class hosta gardens this summer! I want my hosta areas to look like those I saw. They sort of looked like mine, but were missing the holes <LOL> This past weekend, I talked to a hosta expert who gave me some advice, which was to totally clean up the foliage in the late fall. I've always left it, which may be the problem. QUESTION: some of the hostas are dying back now, and I've been removing the foliage but others are still going strong. Is it OK to just cut the foliage back now or should I just let it die back naturally and then cut it back.

This expert also mentioned a specific slug treatment that he says should be applied 3 times in the spring.....I've sort of randomly applied it and not at 3 specific times, but am certainly willing to try anything in order to get clean, slugless foliage next year.

Any suggestions appreciated. Thanks.
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
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virginiarose
Oct 26, 2013 11:16 AM CST
Julie, I cut them back in late fall but I do it later than most people so I can get most of the leaves from the birch trees. I remove all but about 3 inches of foliage (so I know where they are for spraying purposes) and rake everything up, no mulch or leaves anywhere, it is completely clean. The dead leaves or mulch can cause your hostas to rot, especially if you get a lot of rain in the winter.

My hostas are about 80% slug tolerant because of my need for a maintenance free garden. I water in the morning not evening to discourage slugs because by night time the surface dirt is dry. I will spray around the crowns after removing the foliage and also in the early spring with an ammonia solution (50%) It will kills any slugs that are hiding in crown and also dissolves the eggs.

(FYI)..I used the same solution on my daylilies to keep the slugs from eating my flowers. Once I discover that it is happening I will spray right into the crown and all around the outside of the crown. Some times I will spray everything if it has been raining a lot.

I knew about using ammonia on hostas but I read about using it on daylilies last spring. The lady in the article I read was actually using full strength ammonia on all her plants with out any harm to the plant. I was amazed, and I experimented on the cheap daylilies with a 10% solution, then 20,30,40 no problems what-so-ever. You can do your own experiment, you will be amazed how quickly slugs will disappear. I keep a bottle of ammonia water by the back door and when ever I see one I zap him!

You can add more mulch in the early summer to help keep them moist but consider the pine needles because the slugs cannot slide through them and the hostas seem to love the extra something that they put into the soil. I use this especially around the hostas that are not slug resistant.

The only other things would be compost and a good sprinkler. Happy Hosta Gardening!!
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
Name: Ann
Ottawa, ON Canada (Zone 5a)
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ViolaAnn
Oct 28, 2013 6:07 AM CST
You can cut down your hostas for garden clean-up, but if you do so before they have naturally died down, you MUST clean your tools thoroughly between plants. I carry Clorox wipes with me for that purpose. It is not necessary to cut back the hostas, but I've been doing it since foliar nematodes first invaded my garden as it helps to control them and it does help you to reduce the number of slugs.
Ann

Pictures of all my hostas, updated annually and tracked since 2008 begin at: https://violaann.smugmug.com/Garden/Hostas/Hostas-in-my-gard...
Name: Julie
Roanoke, VA (Zone 7a)
Daylilies Region: Virginia Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Heucheras Cat Lover Hummingbirder
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floota
Oct 28, 2013 6:14 AM CST
Thanks for your suggestions! I'll wait a few more weeks until they have died down more... and Ann, yes, I use the Clorox wipes regularly anyway. Always good to know, but I DIDN'T know that you were supposed to clean up all the hosta foliage until recently.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Oct 28, 2013 7:45 AM CST
I use a serrated bread knife to cut my hostas back after they have gone dormant. Grasp the plant and cut them off. The blade is easy to clean........
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
Money talks but Chocolate Sings!
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Hibiscus Dragonflies Daylilies
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virginiarose
Oct 28, 2013 11:43 AM CST
Thumbs up Great idea!
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
Name: Ann
Ottawa, ON Canada (Zone 5a)
Hostas Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Composter Region: Canadian Clematis
Canning and food preservation Container Gardener Annuals Herbs Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
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ViolaAnn
Oct 29, 2013 7:44 PM CST
I have a Lee Valley tools serrated root knife - http://www.leevalley.com/US/garden/page.aspx?p=44046&cat=2,4...

It's one of the best tools I ever bought and it's very easy to clean with the wipes.

But I don't think there is any real necessity to cut the hostas back in most cases.

Ann
Ann

Pictures of all my hostas, updated annually and tracked since 2008 begin at: https://violaann.smugmug.com/Garden/Hostas/Hostas-in-my-gard...
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
Money talks but Chocolate Sings!
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Hibiscus Dragonflies Daylilies
Bee Lover Dahlias Butterflies Hostas Birds Lilies
virginiarose
Oct 29, 2013 7:57 PM CST
I was thinking the same thing. They are mostly dead by the time the leaves finish falling and I have a huge mess. Leaves about 8 inches deep so most of it just gets raked up. I love your knife but for some reason I always go for the scissors when it comes to snipping. Thumbs up
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood

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