What is Eating My Hostas? (Pest Guide + Solutions)

We understand the heart-ache you experience when you discover your hostas have been ravaged by a hungry animal or garden pest. All your time and energy spent nurturing your beautiful plants, wasted after your hostas are carelessly treated as a salad bar. It’s enough to want to make you drop to the ground and throw a temper tantrum like a toddler! The big question is…what animals eat Hostas plants?

For a hungry animal, hosta plants present as a smorgasbord of delicious leafy greens that are ripe for the taking. There are many pests that would happily indulge in your hosta garden, such as large game like deer, or ground dwelling pests, such as rabbits, rodents, groundhogs and squirrels. With so many pests lining up to take a share of your hosta plants, which one is your number one suspect? To help you, we suggest embracing your inner detective, and focus on the evidence left behind at the crime scene.

What Animals Eat Hostas Plants

Welcome to the Garden Bench Top, today we will be helping you solve the mystery of your eaten hosta plants. We are not only going to help you identify your thief, we’ll provide solutions for deterring any future raids on your beautiful hostas.

So go grab your trench coat and deer stalker hat, because we have a case to solve!

NOTE: Just to be clear, the deerstalker hat is a specific type of hat worn by Dr Holmes, and is not implying the deer is our primary suspect.

Do Squirrels & Chipmunks Eat Hostas?

These cheeky little pests can be the source of frustration experienced by many home and garden owners. Both squirrels and chipmunks have incredible climbing abilities. This, coupled with their powerful jumping skills, makes it almost impossible to keep them away from your garden.

So what parts of the hostas will squirrels and chipmunks eat?

Squirrels love to dig down below the ground and snack on the juicy roots for nutrients and hydration. Squirrels receive a lot of their daily water requirements from the food they consume (like fruits and vegetables). This is why you often see half-eaten produce and plants scattered around the grounds of your garden. The squirrels will satiate their thirst, and discard the rest.

On the other hand, chipmunks will usually go for the leaves of your hosta. Hostas aren’t necessarily their favorite food, however if they are hungry enough and have scarce food sources, a hosta leaf will satisfy their hunger.

Do chipmunks eat hostas

How to Stop Squirrels and Chipmunks from Eating Your Hosta

Because squirrels and chipmunks are similar in nature, the methods of deterring them will work on both animals.

Squirrels and chipmunks have a fantastic sense of smell. And it is this strength that we can use against them to keep them away from your hostas. By spreading strong scents around your garden, you can deter these mischievous suspects away from your garden. Irish Spring Soap is a popular scent that many gardeners have strung up around their garden.

You can also try sprinkling chili, cayenne pepper and even ground up garlic to create a smell barrier around your hostas.

At the other extreme, many home gardeners have given up fighting squirrels and chipmunks and resorted to living with them. This doesn’t mean they have thrown in the towel. Rather, the gardeners have embraced the local animals and taken a different approach by growing a sacrificial garden.

This method involves planting a variety of fruit trees and native plants for the local animals to feed on. Of course, this method has risks that it may attract more wildlife that will inevitably find your other precious hostas. So we recommend planting the sacrificial garden far away from your hosta plants.

Do Rabbits Eat Hosta Plants?

If there are soft leafy greens available in your garden, you can be confident there will be rabbits lurking around waiting for the opportunity to make a meal out of it. And hostas are definitely high up there on a rabbit’s menu.

If you notice any new growth on your hostas has been nibbled away, you can bet your bottom dollar rabbits are the ones to blame. They love to target new growth because it is soft, tender and juicy. They will even indulge in the soft, fragrant hosta flowers. However, when a rabbit is hungry enough, they will eat the older, more mature leaves.

Besides missing new hosta growth, the other way to tell rabbits are raiding your hostas is to look for rabbit droppings. Rabbits will defecate while they treat themselves to your garden. You can also look for evidence of their burrows around your garden.

Do rabbits eat hostas

How to Prevent Rabbits from Eating Your Hostas

An effective method of keeping rabbits away from your hostas is to erect a fence line between the rabbits and your garden. Rabbits are disadvantaged by their height and will effectively be shut out by a wire 4-foot fence.

Rabbits do have great digging abilities, therefore it is important to ensure your fence line extends into the ground. To be effective, we recommend extending the fence 1 foot below ground level.

Other effective methods of deterring rabbits away from your hostas are to spray unpleasant smells onto the leaves of your hostas. Like squirrels, chili, cayenne pepper and anything spicy will keep rabbits well away from your beautiful plants.

Do Deer Eat Hostas?

Deer have become a common garden adversary for many home garden owners, primarily due to the damage they can do to a beautiful kept garden in a single night.

Deer love to invade gardens at dusk and work their way through the delicious foliage through the night. Deer are not clean eaters. They tear and pull at branches and stems, stripping the leaves off in one swift move.

It is easy to tell if deer have raided your hostas, because you will only find broken stems, effectively cleared of all their foliage. Your entire hosta bush will be unrecognizable.

Like rabbits, deer will also leave behind droppings as they make their way through your garden. This coupled with hoof prints will provide more than enough evidence to identify that a herd of deer are the ones responsible for your missing hostas.

Do deer eat hostas

How to Keep Deer Away from Your Hostas

Deer are notoriously hard to keep away from your garden. Let’s just say, if the deer want in, they will find a way. Which is why deer have developed a bad reputation amongst home gardeners.

You can try building a fence around the perimeter of your garden. However, deer have the uncanny ability to leap over obstacles, so your fence would have to be at least 8 feet tall to be effective. Some gardeners have been able to get away from fences that are only 6 feet tall. But they have angled the fence outwards, so it makes it harder for deer to clear the fence.

If enclosing your garden within a fortress doesn’t sound like a solution for you, don’t worry there are a few more options.

Try using a deer repellent around the perimeter of your garden to keep deer out. There are commercial options available online (like Amazon), or at your local nursery supply store that you can spray on your hostas.

Another option is to hang bars of soap on rope around the garden. Like squirrels, deer’s have sensitive smells, and they will smell the soap a mile away. Most wild deer tend to associate the scent of soap with humans, which will make them extra cautious when they catch a whiff of the scent around your garden. Generally, they will opt for the safer option, and move on to a safer area to graze.

Sprinkling human hair clippings around the garden has the same effect as the bar on the soap concept. Again, the smell of humans around your garden will scare deer away, and keep your garden safe. The only downside is maintenance. Because you will have to repeat the process when the hair gets blown away in the wind, or washed away with the rain.

Do Voles, Rats and Mice Eat Hosta Plants?

Voles, rats and mice are another group of garden pests that we need to consider in the mystery case of your eaten hostas.

These sneaky rodents are hard to see due to their size, and tendency to roam around your garden under the cover of darkness. They quickly dart around your plants looking for tender and juicy meals, like your hostas’ leaves and roots.

It is easy to tell when voles, rats and mice have attacked your hostas. They will eat the foliage, leaving ragged edges with chunks missing. They will also dig down to the rhizome (roots) of the plant, satiating their hunger and thirst with the juicy roots. Unfortunately, this is probably the worst kind of attack out of all the pests. By eating the roots, the rodents have essentially sentenced your hosta to death, as opposed to a few missing leaves and flowers.

Do vole eat hostas

How to Prevent Voles, Rats and Mice from Killing Your Hostas?

As we said earlier, to protect your hostas from rodents, we need to focus on preventing them from accessing the root system. We can handle a few nibbled leaves, however we will not put up with completely losing your plant.

The best method of preventing voles, rats and mice from accessing the rhizomes is to encase your hostas within a fencing made from wire (or chicken wire). The fence needs to be constructed from wire, because rodents have sharp teeth, and can chew through plastic and wooden materials.

Do Groundhogs Eat Hosta Plants?

Groundhogs are a menace to gardens and their owners. Not only because they will eat anything (including hostas) they can get their grubby little paws on, but they can destroy the soil and fill the ground with dangerous holes.

Not only are they proficient diggers, they can also climb and scale anything that they can grip onto or leverage their way up. They are also quite strong, which means they can pull down potted plants from a height, giving them access to a meal and often breaking the pots in the process. As if eating our garden wasn’t enough, now they have to destroy everything else.

How to Prevent Groundhogs from Eating Your Hostas

Groundhogs are intelligent creatures. They are efficient burrowers, which means standard fences will not keep them out.

As we mentioned earlier, they also possess the ability to climb, so keeping things out of their reach will also be difficult.

Like the other garden pests, smell is your greatest defense. Try sprinkling Epsom salts at the entrance of their burrows to prevent them from using it as a thoroughfare. Some other home gardeners say castor oil has worked for them too.

In a similar vein to deterring deer and squirrels, try spreading clippings of human hair around your plants to discourage them from approaching your crops. Again, the smell of human hair will trick them into thinking a threat is around, and they should retreat to safer grounds.

Case Closed in the Mystery of What Animals Eat Hostas Plants?

Have you been able to identify the culprit of your eaten and missing hostas?

Let’s take a closer look at the evidence shall we…

credit: tenor

If your hostas has had all the leaves stripped from their stems, and there are droppings and hoof prints around, then Mrs Deer is your prime suspect.

However, on the other hand, if the new growth has been gnawed back to the stem, and the lower leaves are missing, then clever Mr Rabbit may be at fault.

Evidence of digging and eaten hosta roots indicates that rodents like voles, rats, mice and squirrels could be responsible for your hosta massacre.

Whoever is guilty, it is clear you need to implement preventative measures to protect your precious hostas from these common garden pests!