It’s Spring! Don’t Step on the Hostas

May 2, 2013 at 10:32 am Leave a comment


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Every spring, I look forward to getting out into the garden to look for signs of my hostas (and other plants) emerging. I’m giddy this time of year as everything comes to life after a long, cold, dark winter. And that’s probably why I reacted badly when my daughter, who happened to be looking out the window to see if my son and his girlfriend had come back from their walk, commented, “Those doofuses just ran right through your garden.”

I fumed and muttered that my son should know better. Walking in the garden has always been taboo around here, and there are some good reasons why.

Take a look at the photo above. That’s an emerging hosta in my garden. The little pointy things are what many hosta people refer to as pips. Each pip is made up of several tightly-wrapped sets of leaves that will unfurl as the season progresses. In my photo, the pips are well above ground and fairly easy to avoid. Early on, though, the pips can be right at the soil line or still hidden under mulch.

The problem with walking in the hosta garden is that accidentally stepping on an emerging hosta can have negative consequences, especially if perfect leaves are your goal. (And really, why wouldn’t they be? Hostas are all about leaves.) Bending or crushing the pip often tears the emerging leaves before they even unfurl, leaving them looking tattered.

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The photo above shows leaf damage to a hosta that’s been accidentally stepped on while emerging.

It’s frustrating to see hostas that you’ve been waiting for all season unfurl with damaged leaves. Lots of other things, from slugs to hail to foliar nematodes, can cause damage to hosta leaves, but stepped-on damage is easily preventable–just don’t stomp around in your hosta garden (or at least step very carefully), and try to keep others out of it.

I did let my son and his girlfriend get away with their trespassing mostly unscathed. The only consequences they suffered were the Mom Look of Death ™ and a boring lecture on the anatomy of a hosta pip. Hopefully they understand now why stepping in my garden is verboten.

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Entry filed under: Gardening Tips, Hostas. Tags: , , .

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