Questions and answers about gardening: holey hostas and more

hosta leaves in Buffalo NYI’m trying something new today. Let me know what you think.

Occasionally readers contact me with specific gardening questions. Since I’m not an expert gardener, I often can’t answer the question myself, so I try to seek out someone who can.

Did you know you can use the same resources I use when trying to answer questions?

Often I call the Master Gardeners with Cornell Cooperative Extension Erie County at (716) 652-5400. These knowledgeable volunteers are available from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays. You can also email them at There are helpful Cornell Cooperative Extension offices in other counties, too. Find contact information here for your county’s Cooperative Extension office.

You can also stop at a garden center to get great information. Check out our advertisers, click on their ad and you’ll be taken to their website or Facebook page to get their hours, address and other important information.

If you have a specific gardening question, I suggest using those routes. It will be the quickest and most efficient way to get the information you need.

Today we’ll try something where we can get a wide range of responses. I’m going to post three questions I have received and let my readers respond. You can join the conversation by leaving a comment. We welcome input from Master Gardeners and from our advertisers, too.

If you have questions that lend themselves to this process, email me at You can even attach a photo to illustrate your question.

Please leave a comment if you can help these readers with their questions, or just let me know what you think of this idea.


Question #1

My hostas are unfurling and look beautiful, but sooner than later, will be buggy and have holes.  What can be sprayed, or what can be used on these plants to stop the leaves from being eaten?

Diane Wacker


Question #2

All of a sudden, I have wild leeks growing throughout my gardens.  Last year they were in one section, now they are everywhere.  I have to dig down up to 8 inches to get the bulbs but they still come back.  How do I get rid of them?

Mary Fadeley


Question #3

This question was sent to me some months ago, and while I kept track of the question, I lost the information on who sent it– my apologies! The reader had heard about growing artichokes, and wanted to know if it can be done in Western New York.

I already talked to Bev Caffery, a Master Gardener intern at Cornell Cooperative Extension, who said you can’t really grow artichokes around here because they need mild winters and cool foggy summers. They are generally recommended for zones 7 to 9, which is warmer than Western New York. While artichokes are normally planted in fall, you could try treating them as an annual and plant them in spring, but you may or may not get a harvest. You could try to prune and mulch them in an attempt to get them through the winter, but she wasn’t optimistic that it would work.

There may not be much to add to this answer, but if anyone has tried growing artichokes, let us know how it turned out for you.



8 Comments on “Questions and answers about gardening: holey hostas and more

  1. Holey Hosta, Batman! Causes might include:
    Susceptible varieties — choose slug resistant Hosta, that is, Hosta with good substance (thick leaves)
    Debris from above — trees, shrubs, grass clipping from mowing
    Fertilizer scattered or splashed on the foliage
    Slugs, of course — start very widely (approximately one grain per square foot) distributing SLUGGO (or other brand) very very early (before pips appear) and repeat every 2-4 weeks in the first season, again in second season but decrease frequency after the first application. Then once or twice each season in the following years. But it’s never too late to scatter but avoid hitting the leaves. Of course, slugs can be picked off individually for a pesticide-free garden. Chickens will help, if the gardener is inclined!

  2. Holey hostas can be prevented by scattering diatomaceous earth beneath the plants or all over the soil before they emerge. This severely discourages slug movement (the diatoms are sharp on the bellies of critters). The earth can be bought cheaply at a pool store (got a big bag for $10 at Pool Mart). They sell it for pool filters. It is benign and does not harm the environment. This is a tip I picked up from a master gardener at a Cornell Extension presentation a few years ago (sorry the credit can’t be more specific…can’t remember who).

  3. Oh, that could certainly be what happened. I did try to water them when it was dry. Plus they were positioned near the hose and probably got splashed a lot.

  4. A lot of hosta can take sun BUT if you spray them with a hose and then the sun hits them they will burn.

  5. Kathy, thanks for that answer. I’ve had trouble with my hostas the last couple years, too. They would come up fine, then around June they would get brown spots. I decided that what was once a shady garden was now a sunny garden and they were getting burnt up by the sun. This year I had two patches that already looked terrible and thought maybe it was because the frost nipped them. I hope I haven’t misdiagnosed the problem.

  6. My hostas used to look terrible. They were either eaten down to the nubs or they had huge holes in them. The causes were either deer, who ate them down to the nubs or slugs, who ate holes in them. To deter the dear I used a deer repellant (ex: liquid fence) and for the slugs I used the granules they sell to kill them.

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