The Buzz

Hosta advice from Larry Tucker - guest post by Larry Tucker


As you wander the botanic garden and admire spring beauty, you may also wonder why the Hosta Trail is filled with sunken pots. The reasons are twofold. When the Mid-South Hosta Society created these nationally acclaimed beds, members realized their favorite plants must be protected from hungry voles and thirsty tree roots.

Hostas love rich, moist, loose soil, but few thrive in competition with these subterranean foes. In the spring of 1999, MSHS members planted the first of seven beds with specimen hostas in wire cages. Around the perimeter, they planted common hostas without protection. A year later, all of the sacrificial common hostas had been devoured by voles. Like garden sharks, these creatures must keep eating to maintain their metabolism. The hosta society’s caged hostas dodged the mouse-like “undertakers,” but viability of the club’s more desirable plants was diminished by invading tree roots.     

Since those early days, Hosta Trail additions have been planted in 3-, 4- and 5-gallon black plastic nursery pots, which are raised a couple inches above ground to discourage voles from “dumpster-diving.” Voles otherwise burrow no deeper than about 6 inches and are unable to penetrate the containers. Over time, tree roots can creep into these protective pots through drain holes, sap the hostas of moisture and strangle the plants. That can be averted by periodically lifting and twisting pots and breaking off a tree’s tenacious tentacles.     

During the off-season, hosta pots may be unsightly, but they’re disguised by foliage once the growing season commences.   

Posted by Bonnie Grosshans at 10:05 AM


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