Hostas forum: Help---Shrinking Violets!!!

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Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Cookies4kids
Sep 2, 2014 6:24 AM CST
As a newbie to ATP, I have so enjoyed reading and learning. I have been lurking over at the Daylily forum, but now I need to find some answers for my hostas that have been patiently waiting for help. I have a well established hosta garden that runs along the edge of the oak woods. For some reason, several of the plants came up this spring and remained very short. The leaves are all there but they are only about 3" tall. It's as if someone hung onto the roots and said "ok" that's all the taller you can be this year.
These plants are always lush and beautiful, so this is really a mystery. I even have two of the same variety that are side by side, and one grew and the other stayed short. I have a friend who is in another city who had the same problem, but she has no trees that could be the problem.

I know the trees are taking a certain amount of nutrients from the soil, but of my 75 varieties, this is only affecting a few. I would like to add some pellets and milorganite to all my plants, but is it best to wait until spring or can I still do it this fall???
Thanks
Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
OH (Zone 5a)
Hostas
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Pandora
Sep 6, 2014 1:54 PM CST
I've had the same problem the last couple years. I think the chipmunks and moles dig tunnels and water can get under some plants and/or let cold air under plants to freeze roots. I am keeping any tromped down that Ive seen this summer. ((Tunnels, that is ))

It could also be that mice and/or voles used these tunnels to eat the roots (especially in winter). Moles are only carnivorous, so wouldn't be eating roots. I've never seen a vole in my yard, but have suspicions.

I am getting more aggressive this year trying to repel digging critters out of the beds.

I am wanting to fertilize mine this fall, but all research says Sept too late.
[Last edited by Pandora - Sep 7, 2014 8:42 AM (+)]
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Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Cookies4kids
Sep 6, 2014 2:11 PM CST
Thanks Pandora, I wanted to fertilize all my hostas and Daylilies this fall also but everyone says not to. I may still throw caution to the winds and do it anyway. There are a lot of people who say they always do it in the fall without any problems!!
Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
Name: Jason
Gold Bar, Washington (Zone 8b)
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riverman123
Apr 17, 2015 4:49 AM CST
I know your post is older, but im new to the site and I just saw it...

how are things turning out for your hostas this spring? I see your post was from last sept. so im assuming they all survived the winter? did you end up fertilizing them in the fall? how did things work out?
Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Cookies4kids
Apr 17, 2015 5:00 AM CST
I can't wait to find the answer to all those questions myself, lol. Hostas are one of the very last things to show up here in my gardens, and it's still too soon to know how things will go this spring. I did fertilize during the year last year, and plan to water a lot this spring so time will tell. I love your avatar as lilies are my second favorite next to the daylilies. I think I will be in a battle with the deer this year, so I hope I win. Last year they ate off 15 of my asiatics just about the time the were going to open, Sad Sad Sad
Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
OH (Zone 5a)
Hostas
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Pandora
Apr 20, 2015 8:41 AM CST
I am interested in your progress also. I'm retired now, so I am going to start one by one digging up the hostas that are struggling, put more cow manure in the holes and add water crystals to each hole. Not only do I have digging critters and deer, also have tree roots that crowd hoastas an soak up all the water & nutrients.

Last summer, I had dh split some humongous Krossa Regals (about 4'x4') in front of house and got 7 new large plants to fill in spots in 1 bed around the trees. I lost a Sagae, 5 Elegans, and 1Sum & Substance in that bed 2012-2013.
Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Cookies4kids
Apr 20, 2015 9:24 AM CST
I do think that tree roots are my big problem also, Pandora. When we dug the space for the Hostas 20 years ago, it was nothing but roots and took us several days to clean it out. The garden runs down along the woods, and I am sure that is part of the problem now. It is not possible to dig that all up again, but I will add more fertilizer and water like crazy this year. I may be able to dig some of them, but not all.
Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
Name: Diann
Iowa (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Enjoys or suffers cold winters Cat Lover Region: Iowa Hostas
Lilies Peonies
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Ticker
Apr 20, 2015 11:12 AM CST

Moderator

What trees are you guys planting under? Maples are usually a slow agonizing death for hostas...
Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Cookies4kids
Apr 20, 2015 11:14 AM CST
Oaks for me.
Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
Name: Diann
Iowa (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Enjoys or suffers cold winters Cat Lover Region: Iowa Hostas
Lilies Peonies
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Ticker
Apr 20, 2015 11:48 AM CST

Moderator

Mine are all black walnut. Since BW has a tap root my hostas do great. :)
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Apr 20, 2015 2:53 PM CST
I am very curious to know about the roots Cookies4kids and Pandora are having problems with. I plant my hostas under oaks and near oaks. I don't seem to have much problem (so far) with what I would consider major roots. But, I have always had problems in the beds with a mesh of very fine roots. When I dig in those beds the entire area is full of the very fine roots and I have to pull them out and shake all the soil off of them. I just went out and dug a hole about one foot square and this pile of fine roots is what come out of that small area. I have always assumed they were Oak roots but can not trace them to anything, they are pretty easy to pull out and come out in large clumps.
Small shallow hole:
Thumb of 2015-04-20/Seedfork/377a84
Roots out of that small shallow hole:
Thumb of 2015-04-20/Seedfork/e0a3ed

Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Cookies4kids
Apr 20, 2015 3:26 PM CST
I would be thrilled if that's all I had when I dig a hole,lol. All my garden areas are bordered by virgin woods which is made up of tons of brush type stuff and oaks, elms, hackberry trees, etc. which I wouldn't trade for a million dollars. It's beautiful but puts out huge roots at least 10 ft from the edge of the woods which is right smack in the middle of my flower gardens. Sometimes you need an axe just to cut one off because it's growing in the middle of the hole you want to plant in!!! There are tons of roots as big around as your fingers, and they grow back pretty fast. You have to remember that all this was cleaned out 15 years ago for the initial planting, but has grown back again. Many times when I dig a plant for a customer, I have tree roots tangled in the roots of the daylily. It poses a little problem here and there, but the woods is a gorgeous backdrop for the gardens, and we just love it here.
Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Apr 20, 2015 3:34 PM CST
I can see where as far as digging the big roots would be a problem, but I have always thought that the big roots were mostly for stabilization of the tree and the finer roots were the ones that absorbed the nutrients (no science behind that just what I thought). Not even sure these are tree roots, but they do have me baffled.
Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
Cookies4kids
Apr 20, 2015 4:49 PM CST
I don't know either, Larry, but we have plenty of both, lol. Makes for great muscles!!!
Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
OH (Zone 5a)
Hostas
Image
Pandora
May 2, 2015 6:25 AM CST
Trees I have oak, wild cherry, cottonwood, dogwood, ash, maple, and some others. There are huge roots to work around, some couple inches in diameter, and fine hairy tangled mess.

I don't know exactly what happened, but went from several years of increasing and lush hostas and companions to very fast decline. In 3 years lost most companions and abt 25 hostas. Just started shrinking.

This year is starting out great, so maybe my methods will pay off.

Cookies another thing I have done when I get tired is just take shovel or digger a little bit away from plant, slice straight down as far as I can and wiggle it back and forth a little. Then add crystal, manure and/or Osmocote as far down as I can in the crevice I made.

Lol, what we do for our plants! ☺
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
May 16, 2015 3:00 PM CST
I've got a lot of garden space just south of my back yard maple. What I've decided to do is to mulch it heavily and put potted hostas there.
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: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
Cookies4kids
Jun 6, 2015 6:02 AM CST
Last year I started this shrinking violets thread, and I am happy to report that things are looking better this year. I put down milorganite and 10-10-10 around each plant early this spring, and we got a lot of rain. Yesterday I moved a couple of plants to new spots, and it's no wonder that they are not doing so well after 15 years or so. The root mass around those plants was unbelievable!! I was pretty sure that would be the case so I might start lifting and resetting the smaller plants.

Thumb of 2015-06-06/Cookies4kids/354102
Thumb of 2015-06-06/Cookies4kids/f2b304

Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
OH (Zone 5a)
Hostas
Image
Pandora
Jun 9, 2015 6:01 AM CST
Beautiful gardens Karen.
Yep, I feel your pain.

Thumb of 2015-06-09/Pandora/a81b8d




Thumb of 2015-06-09/Pandora/b17347


Thumb of 2015-06-09/Pandora/c374e1

[Last edited by Pandora - Jun 9, 2015 7:38 AM (+)]
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Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
Cookies4kids
Jun 9, 2015 6:39 AM CST
Love your gardens, Pandora. So neat!
Happiness is doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
OH (Zone 5a)
Hostas
Image
Pandora
Jun 9, 2015 8:09 AM CST
Thanks Karen.

I might have been battling more than one issue. 2012 & 2013 by late summer deer had eaten all those beds to the ground. Not one leaf left. That probably added to the problem. Plus I did no watering. It seemed like we got tons of rain but I've since done some checking with a meter and there are odd dry spots even after a good rain.

Your poor lilies. I had 32 varieties and prob 100 bulbs, but all were eaten by chipmunks, voles or mice in that same time. Not a trace left. Only saw 3-4 small abt nickel sized holes on surface.

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