Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Organic methods to Control Your Slug Population on Your Hosta Plants

In my previous blog, I mentioned the method I prefer to keep the deer out of my Hosta Gardens. Today, I would like to give you a few organic methods that I have used to control the slug & snail population and found success.
I have found the best way to stop slugs and snails from eating your Hosta plants is to use organic barriers. Slugs & snails are soft-bodied and do not like to get scratched up. Try this organic method; surround susceptible plants with rinsed, crushed eggshells - slugs will not crawl over them, and they are good for the soil. Another organic option is to spread soot or ashes around your hosta plants. I have also sprinkled a bag of lime around my hosta plants to act as a slug & snail deterrent. The downside to these easy to implement organic methods is that you need to replenish after heavy rains.

I'm sure a lot of you have heard about Beer baits. This method isn't as effective as many are led to believe, but I have tried it and it does work. In this method saucers or containers of beer are buried at ground level. Slugs are attracted to the yeast smell and drown, with a smile on their faces. I use old margarine containers as my saucer of choice. However, the slug population is usually so large that ten or more saucers need to be buried, emptied daily and refilled. During the hot summer months, I'm a little selfish when it comes to sharing my beer with pests.

Remember to use organic methods to keep the slugs & snails out of your hosta garden. By using organic methods to protect your garden, you are also increasing and encouraging toads, garter snakes, hedgehogs, and birds, all whom feast on slugs & snails to help in your efforts. Encourage their presence in your hosta garden by not using chemicals that keep them away.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Get Out of My Hosta Garden Deer

I mentioned in a previous blog how the hosta plant is also called the, “Friendly Plant” as a result of friends, family members, and other hosta gardeners sharing their hosta plants. Unfortunately, it might also be called the, “Friendly Plant” for another reason, PESTS!

Hosta plants are extremely vulnerable to attack. They seem to be particularly attractive to deer, snails, and slugs. In this blog I will give you the method that has worked for me throughout the past five years on how to rid your hosta garden of deer.

Because my Kingdom is shared by many species, I quickly learned that hosta plants were not deer resistant. As a matter of fact, after doing a little research, I learned that the hosta plant was one of the deer’s first menu choices. Lucky me!

Since I am not a hunter and all wildlife species are welcome at my Kingdom, I quickly researched safe methods to save my hosta gardens. One suggested option I found, (but not used by me) was to soak the hosta plants with commercial deer repellant sprays. The best choices were said to have a high concentration of putrescent egg solids as their main active ingredient, like Deer Off, Deer Repellent Urine, and Liquid Fence. I have used Liquid Fence in the winter months for my pine trees, another delicious treat for deer, and it did work. Another option was to spread Deer Scram around your garden or even use hot sauce to ward off the attackers.

The method I use is a cheap, safe, and effective alternative to those other options. I use the delicious smell of Irish Springs Soap to keep the deer away from my hosta gardens. I simply place a bar of the odoriferous treat in an old cut off panty hose and hang it on a pole in proximity to the plants. Guess what…IT WORKS! In the past four years, I have not had one hosta leaf eaten or chewed on by the deer.

If you have any safe, easy to use, economical methods that have worked for you to get rid of the deer, please post a link to let me know and I will publish it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How To Split A Hosta Plant

The Hosta plant is sometimes called the, "Friendly Plant" as a result of the number of people willing to share their plant. My first hosta plant that I planted in my Kingdom was split from my parents garden. Before I split their plant, I asked the question, "How do you split a hosta plant without killing it?"

As I grew fonder of this easy to grow shade plant, I have learned that splitting hosta plants is a common practice shared my almost everyone who has this shade loving plant. The pictures below are a result of many friends dividing and sharing their hosta plants with me. My goal in this blog is to share some of the secrets (or not so secret) methods that I have used over the past 5 years to split my hosta plants.

One of the reasons I took so quickly to the, "Friendly plant" is due to it's strength and durability. It's my opinion that they gave it the wrong nickname, "Superplant" would have been more appropriate. I have found that I can split hosta plants anytime, anywhere and with anything.

My methods of splitting the hosta plant work well for me, see pictures below for proof. However, there are many methods and theories of HOW and WHEN to split a hosta plant.

Described below are my methods and seasons of splitting the friendly plant:

If it is spring, I look for the eyes of the plant protruding the earth. If I see at least 5 eyes, I know that I can split the plant. I take my flat spade and place it right in the center of the hosta plant. I always want at least 3 eyes when I divide. I then make sure that the hole I left is filled in with dirt and plant the other immediately. The reason I plant it immediately is that I always pre-plan where I'm going to replant.

If it is summer, I try to dig up the entire plant by digging a circle around the perimeter of the leaves. I find it easier to divide the roots once they are out of the ground. I take my flat spade, (I have also used a sharp knife, depending on the size of the hosta) and find the natural split in the roots. If there isn't a natural split, I look at the size of the root and try to divide proportionally. I have split one hosta as many as five times, again it all depends on the hosta size. If the hosta is to big to dig out, I move the leaves to look for the natural division of the plant. once I locate that, I place my flat spade right on the spot to divide. I then slowly push the spade in with my foot. If it is too dry, you may have to deploy at lot of power to break the surface of the plant.

My favorite time to split my hostas is in the fall when the flowers are gone and the leaves start to go dormant for the winter. I am able to visualize the locations for my new garden and insert the hosta where I want it while it is still above ground.

If you have a method that works well for you, pleases let me know and I will share it on my blog. Happy Hosta gardening!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Why a Kingdom! Why Hosta plants!

It wasn't long after my divorce that I realized that I needed an outlet to escape the emotional burden and scars that going through a divorce has on the soul. What better way to escape than to tackle 40 acres of a jungle like woodlands? In essence to get back to my roots and allow the magical healing power of mother nature to take over. That is when I first discovered the magic of having my very own kingdom. The freedom to escape the trial and tribulations that life has to offer and a place to promote the inner child that is within all of us. As I cleared the brush piles and saw light for the first time peak through the tall lumbering trees, it was then I started to think of the secret gardens that I could produce.

My first garden was just off the bank of the stream (pictured above) that runs through my kingdom. It was here that I wanted to build my first garden. The problem with the area was that it was filled with poison ivy and other unknown weeds. My friends Ruthie and Dave helped out by making a fire pit out of the river stone, and later to be used for cooking purposes, and burned the debris so that I could begin my quest to build my first garden. Funny lesson to me, not to them...never get in the line of smoke when burning poison ivy. David informed me a week later that he was finally getting over the poison ivy that hit him in places on his body that he never knew could get poison ivy.

After a few weeks, the debris was finally cleared and it was time to build my first garden in my kingdom. My chosen location was amongst some very tall ash, maple, elm and cherry trees.

Needless to say, my perennial garden wasn't going to get a whole lot of sun. I had to choose some perennials plants that could be grown in shade. After consulting with my mother, who has a lot of knowledge on plants, she recommended hosta plants. So my quest for hosta began! It was through a lot of trial and error, but my garden looks like this today!

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Hosta Obsession: From the Beginning!

Welcome to Tim’s wonderful world of Hosta obsession, from the beginning. I haven’t been a hosta plant lover forever, as a matter of fact my obsession for this hardy perennial began about 5 years ago. However, I am writing to inform you today that I am and will be forever; splitting, planting, sharing, writing, and dreaming of more ways to share my passion with others.

It all began in 2003 when my brother and I inherited 40 acres of jungle like woods from my grandparents. The “Woods” was nothing more than an old pasture of trees that was untouched for approximately 50 years. Through poison ivy, burned up chainsaws, foot spiked with a Hawthorne needle, and numerous other gruesome stories to share, the woods became a great place to dream, sort of like the great Katherine Paterson's classic young adult novel, Bridge to Terebithia. I had my very own Kingdom to play or should I say, to plant, hosta planting! Check out my very first hosta seedling in the top picture on the left.

Over the course of 5 years, I have continued to collect, split and grow my own hosta’s. It is my goal to learn all I can about this easy to grow, shade loving perennial that I have grown so fond of and to share my knowledge and interest with others. My collection is varied and growing more and more as I visit nurseries, friend’s home, and other places willing to share my passion for the hosta plant.

If anyone is visiting Central Ohio and would like to see my favorite place to see a wonderful array of hosta plants, Wade and Gatton Nurseries is a must see stop. They have an unbelievable collection of hosta plants and other perennials.

If you have any favorite hosta places in Ohio that you think would be a great place to visit, please email with the location.