You can find this wire mesh at Lowe's. It's sold to cover dryer vents to keep critters out, or in the roofing section to keep leaves from the gutters. Comes in a big roll and is 8" wide. You can make a circle as big as you need, smaller ones for younger plants and bigger ones for larger. Yes the roots will eventually grow through the mesh, but the crown and most of the roots are safe from vole damage. I use black plastic cable ties to close the circle.
Bear with me, it looks like I can only post one photo at a time
Add soil to bring your crown up to the proper height and plant your hosta. Top off with another 1" of gravel. It's a slow process, I know. But I won't put another new hosta in the ground any other way, and I'm getting my other hostas caged also. I have found vole holes right up against the cages, but they only dig down about 4 inches and gave up.
So far, I have not lost any caged hostas. I live in the woods and there just is not way
I'd be able to trap or poison every vole.
Pam, how big a cage do you have to make for a large hosta- say one that is 3-4 feet at maturity? And do you worry about the impact of digging up mature hosta to cage them? Will you have to dig all of them up every few years to replace the cage as they rust out? That seems like it would be very difficult to do when the roots start to grow thru the holes?
You could probably use a 2 gal pot to form the cage. I've only had them in cages for 2 years so far, so I'm still waiting to see how long they last, but replacing the cages is easier than replacing the damaged hosta.
Good info Pam! I'm lucky I don't have that big a problem yet, but they say the vole population is increasing, especially in areas that are seeming to have warmer winters.
I just wanted to mention a couple of things. I talked about using poison bait on voles before, and it is very effective, but only when they don't have a lot of other sources of food. So late fall to early winter is the time to bait for them. It won't do any good while they have vegetation to munch on.
A castor oil soak is said to help. Drench the area where you see openings to the tunnels.
1 tablespoon castor oil
2 tablespoons liquid detergent
One gallon warm water
And just so people know, voles are commonly referred to as field mice, almost every area has them.
So that castor oil soak is probably the same product I mentioned in the other thread, but a homemade and far less expensive recipe.
Yes, they are called field mice. I think our gardens are just easy pickins'. They really don't have to dig deep to eat a hosta, and there are plentiful in one spot. We need some hungry hawks and owls to help us out.
Pam, do you have any issues with the gravel mulch covering the crown like that? I keep all my pine mulch pulled away because I'm afraid of crown rot, but I noticed that some of the vole holes are right at the base of the plant. And the eyes don't have a problem pushing up thru the gravel in the Spring?
Is the burning enough to kill them? All of my onions died because of those critters eating their roots. I've noticed many holes in my strawberry bed too. I hate them and I want their death to be a sure thing!
pollyk, thanks that's just what I was looking for, I've tried the other castor oils and they have no effect on the moles, I've found a bait that works but it takes a lot of effort. spraying stuff on the lawn is easier if it works, Jim
Jim, why wouldn't the wire cage protect against both our mole and vole friends?
Woodthrush, I have been using the same cages for years.
I have a huge roll of 'hardware cloth' which I cut and roll just as you do.
I also secure with cable ties.
I use them both below ground to protect roots against burrowing critters,
but also above ground to protect newbies from bunnies.
I have cages of all sizes scattered throughout my yard.
My shrubs and trees are wrapped in netting to protect against deer antler rubbing.
My wife complains my garden looks more like a war zone.
But sometimes I think the 'war zone' analogy isn't so far from the truth.
It's a war out there!
It sure is a war. We've been setting traps for voles and haven't caught a single one. I don't want to dig up anything else at this late time, but I'm trying to make gravel moats as much as I can around the established hosta. It's gonna be a nerve-wracking winter here.
The cages would work for moles, but moles don't bother plants so it wouldn't be necessary. They eat grubs, apparently.
I don't know if you garden organically, if not the Bayer Tree and Shrub drench with Imidacloprid as the active ingredient is very effective in my garden. It's supposed to be effective for 12 months, and I apply it in the spring. Just once.
I have an iris nursery, and I use the soil drench so I will not have thrips and aphids, but I have had no problem with my hostas, nor with the dreaded lily beetle, and I think it's due to the Bayer drench.
I was origionally told the Imidacloprid was not able to be purchased in NY, but thankfully that's not the case, as it's the product that works best for me.
In fact my inspector recommended it. It was once thought to be killing honeybees, and I would never consider using it in that case, but my understanding is it turned out to be mites that were killing the bees, not the Imidacloprid.
I imagine getting rid of grubs would discourage moles, yes, but would have no effect on the voles since they don't care about grubs. I'd much rather have moles instead of voles! But I guess they sort of work in tandem, because the voles apparently like to use mole tunnels to get around.
I used the Bayer Rose stuff on my astilbe that always gets tarnished plant bugs (I think that's what they are called) and I think it worked to minimize their damage. Next year I will apply it sooner. I think that's Imidacloprid too. I tried organic solutions first, which didn't work, so I had to go to chemicals. They destroy my astilbe buds every year before they get a chance to bloom and I've had enough of it. I may try the Bayer next year on a few hosta I suspect may have nematodes.
FYI, for those who don't feel up to construction projects like wire cage production, you can purchase similar cages commercially. Here is a pix of one of the cages. They are mailed flattened in a case. They open to form a wire cage w/ wire-enclosed bottom. I use them both in the holes against voles and above ground to protect young plants from rabbits (and also to keep young woodland plants from getting smothered by soggy leaves over winter).
Weerobin, aren't those holes big enough for a vole to get in? Those certainly would make it easier- cutting and working with hardware cloth is really a pain. I picked up some plastic hardware cloth the other day at Home Depot and am debating using it. I figure they could probably chew thru it, but maybe will decide not to bother. I haven't unrolled it yet, but it seems like pretty sturdy plastic
I think the holes are too big in those commercial cages also. Vole entrance holes in the garden are small. Moles are fatter than voles. And who could afford commercial cages for every hosta. I have 1200 varieties, and even more with duplicates and extras from the co-ops.
The gopher cages are smaller gauge than chicken wire.
The manufacturer claims it's small enough to prevent small rodents.
I've been satisfied so far.
There's no question they're too expensive to use for every planting.
But I've used them as a guarantee for those 'special' plants I would really hate to lose.
I have both home-made hardware cloth cages and the commercial cages - they both work fine.
I'm sorry I missed this thread last year but happy for some inspiration! The rabbits ate several new hostas (I guess they were a tender delicacy like baby lettuce??) and ALL my lillies down to the ground last year. Animal deterrent sprays and pellets didn't have any effect.
So I think that wire mesh from Lowe's will work nicely. I hope I even have some of the new mini/small hostas left to protect! And poor Queen Josephine!
Well I spent most of last summer making wire baskets and planting with Permatil.
I am pleased to announced I only lost one hosta in the ground.
I'm guessing that variety needed more protection or mulch.
But all others in ground survived.
Guess a chipped tooth from attempting to munch thru the wire cage is a deterrent after all! :)
I have a question. I have made a few, as I am redoing my front garden. Its a huge sun/shade spot where no grass grows so we mulch it. I forgot to put gravel on bottom and top. So I am going to redo the ones I already did and fix that. My question is, hosta's spread right? So I think my cages might be too small for future years. Should I redo the size of them also. Since I am digging them up again anyhow?
Kristin, I think it would help to know how large your hostas might grow and how fast. Personally, I would probably enlarge the cages for the fast growers. That way you still have time to redo the other ones later.
Thankfully, I don't have to contend with voles or moles, just squirrels and rabbits. My new cages seem to be squirrel-proof so far!I may have to make changes when the rabbits return this summer. Here's a "surround" cage for tiny Hosta venusta:
I used plastic hardware cloth to protect a clematis Montana Rubens from voles. The guy at the hardware store told me it would last many years, where hardware cloth would rust out. The first spring after planting I went out to prune and the whole vine swung away from the trellis at the bottom- they had eaten everything that was underground. So before I planted the replacement I dug a huge hole and lined it with the plastic. I brought the plastic together at the top in the shape of a drawstring bag around the stems trying to leave space for more stems as the plant grew, stapled it together just above the ground, then mulched. That was four years ago-- so far, so good. I wish I'd thought of gravel for the top. Next time!
The voles don't bother my poor few hosta, the deer eat them to the ground. Also the daylilies. I gave up and just plant what they don't like, which they only munch on in early spring when greens are scarce.
So I made a bunch of baskets yesterday. I folded the bottoms in on itself and zip-tyed them off. They look pretty darn good I must say. I did the hydrangeas and hostas that I just bought this weekend. Im not sure if they go after the hydrangeas or not, but Im not taking any chances. I left them a few inches above ground only because my yard seems to be one giant ledge. (stupid New England!) Hope it works. Thanks for all the help.
I also made some last year using the black plastic hardware cloth. I imagine a determined vole could chew through it, but I'm hoping it will at least be a deterrent. It is certainly a hundred times easier to work with than the metal mesh, and cheaper. I also kept many plants in nursery pots that I sunk in the ground, including one hydrangea. Everything came through the winter in great shape.
I was actually thinking about cutting the bottom of the plastic nursery pot the hydrangea came in. But I was worried that the roots would rather grow laterally. I thought the mesh would allow them to run through. We will see how it goes.
I had thought I lucked out in not getting any vermin but one moved in last year. It probably stays out of the main part of the front yard because of the two huge Silver Maples and all of the surface roots. Since I am running out of room to plant there I now have to plant in a 5' strip on the other side of the driveway where this little digger has been going all over the place. I am planting Liberty over there and I am taking no chances with it. I made a basket 12" in diameter and 16" tall out of hardware cloth with a bottom. I left 2" of the cage above ground.