I'm still clearing fall debris from my hosta beds. Last fall I piled a bit of manure around my hostas thinking that the freezing and thawing would incorporate the manure into the soil. Instead I'm finding that the manure has turned to powder. What is everyone doing re fertilizer? Is milorganite a good idea in the spring or is Miracle Grow (MG) a better alternative? If I use milorganite or MG, can I also put down a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote? I'm afraid of overfertilizing.
Hopefully I'll get around to the ammonia bath when most of my hostas have started to emerge. I feel I won't be able to keep track of which hostas have been treated if I start too early as I have over 250 varieties at this point. Does anyone have a good method of keeping track? I suppose it doesn't matter if some are treated more than once?? Sure would be nice to keep down the slug and earwig population.
With the recent ban on herbicides in Ontario, I'm seeing WEEDS, WEEDS like never before and it's not just dandelions and thistles. What are the rest of you Ontarians doing to combat the problem in your beds? Have you tried corn gluten meal in your hosta beds?
Is everyone feeling as overwhelmed as I am? The unseasonable warm weather just seems to me to have compressed the hosta chores into a too short space of time or is this just my imagination? I'm looking forward to some of the more creative aspects of hosta gardening such as planting some new ones.
This year I am trying Osmocote 14-14-14, 3 to 4 month fertilizer, It was $118.00US for a 50lb bag. I wouldn't use too many types of fertilizers together unless they all have low numbers. I don't use any herbicides. I just do it the old fashioned way and weed by hand every time I am out there. I cleaned out my beds over a month ago when the warm weather started and things started coming up. I have had to cover everything three times.
I bought the Osmocote locally at a very old seed/hardware store that has been here forever. You can buy it online in bulk from A.M. Leonard. It came out to about the same price with shipping. It is $88.99 before shipping.
I don't fertilize my hosta that are in the ground at all. This year, I'd like to fertilize the ones in pots without repotting them. I'm wondering what to use. Osmocote is easy but is it effective if it's not worked down into the soil? I've only used that when mixing potting soil for annuals. I was going to use some Plant Tone, but every time I use that or Holly Tone my dogs go insane from the smell and the new puppy is already driving me crazy in the garden...I don't want to have to chase him away from all the potted hosta. So I'm sorta thinking about just using Miracle Grow. Anyone use that?
I am also overhwhelmed. I am STILL raking up leaves, though I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel. My hosta are really coming up now and the projected rain is gonna make things speed up even more. All my unfurling ones are already damaged by slugs, but I've been working so hard out there that I don't have the energy to combat them right now. Grrr
When I went up to Hornbaker Gardens this year I asked them what they use in their pots since their website blog stated that they feed the hosta in pots before they even emerge. They just sprinkle some slow release fertilizer on top of the potting mix and don't work it in.
I hear y'all on still cleaning leaves and debris from last year. Our oak trees don't finish dropping leaves until a month after the last city leaf pickup. Even so, my beds probably look better this year than any other, just because I've been out there cleaning up a little at a time. And I started weeding early. Roundup gives me the heebie-jeebies, so I just weed by hand.
I'd also never fertilized the hostas until last year. I read that someone else on DG used Milorganite, so I read up on it. Decided to go ahead and use some, since it's such a low dose that there's no worry about runoff and it won't burn the plants. I sprinkled some Milorganite on each of the hostas and added a top dressing of mushroom compost for good measure. I'm not really sure how much it helped the hostas, but the Dogwood in the back bloomed well for the first time since we moved in 4 years ago.
Oops, had to edit because I said redbud instead of dogwood.
Gosh, it makes me feel better knowing others are in the same boat. I went out this afternoon thinking the rain had stopped. DETERMINED to get some more work done. I hardly felt the drizzle under the tree canopy and got another bed cleaned out. Hopefully, the trees will protect my plants if we do get snow on Monday.
Frank I'm glad to hear that Osmocote is available in bulk. Like Noreaster I've used it in the past for perennials and annuals working it into the soil at planting but it got expensive. I'm probably going to use the bag of Miloganite/nitrogen I bought last spring but never got around to applying. I dug up my poor Sagae last summer to see what was going on as it had developed almost no eyes or top growth since 2006. The roots were well developed so the nitrogen boost might just be what the poor thing needs, what with all the other root competition for nutrients. Love that redbud, Eleven, must have been all that Milorganite and mushroom compost. I must have read the same post on DG as you. Frank, please keep us posted on your results with Osmocote as I'd like to try it next year.
Eleven, at least your city picks up leaves! We are on our own, here. We have to bag them and take them to the town dump, where we then have to dump them out of the bags.
Congrats on the redbud blooming! Those are the prettiest color blooms. I don't think I see a lot of redbuds around here for some reason. I was down in VA earlier this month and they were blooming all over the place.
Irene - we also have a lot more weeds, but most are dandelions. We've got some corn gluten for the lawn. Might be worth trying in the hosta beds too. I think the best thing is a thick layer of the composted pine mulch that Artistic Landscape sells. Trouble is the delivery is as expensive as the mulch.
ViolaAnn ... I use pine needles in my hosta beds but haven't applied a thick layer thinking that it would encourage more slugs and earwigs. Actually my shade gardens aren't too bad for weeds except at the edges where the breeze blows weed seeds from the lawn. The dandelions aren't too difficult to dig out, its this weed that has white flowers that's become a problem the last two years in the sunnier beds. I've applied corn gluten meal around the edges.
At home, in IL [zone5] a few weeks ago i topped dressed with a mixture of mushroom compost and humus
in Wisc [zone4] - just last evening, I worked the ground around the hostas [didn't get to them all] and sprinkled the Osmocote and worked it in. I have sandy soil and its on a slope, everything washes downhill ... so i attempted to work it in.
I have never really fertilized before... just hoping this helps.
I purchased the container of Osmocote at home depot or walmart last year. -- not bulk though, just a small container.
I think I'm heading home [to IL] today for 4 days... .I can't wait to see my hosta bed. should be pretty full by now.
tcs, sounds like you've been working like a trooper. I'm nowhere near your stage of hosta gardening. I have no help with the garden beds on an acre and a third of property. My husband looks after the lawn, the deck, trims the hedges, prunes the trees, opens and closes the pool, hauls the weeds to the dump all of the hard stuff. AND he loves to golf. He says the flower beds are my babies as he's not into gardening. I would like to compost but just don't have the time and he's not interested. Good luck with your soil amendments.
BTW, I'm thoroughly confused by all the terms flying around about soil: humus, garden soil, top soil, black earth etc. Does anyone have a good link so I can educate myself further.
Don't forget "loam". I am confused, too. And don't even get me started on the confusion I feel over fertilizers, understanding nitrogen, phosphorus levels, organic vs chemicals etc. Too much science for me to grasp, I'm afraid. I just like the artistry part of gardening.
Me too. Re the nitrogen, phosphorous etc composition this old geezer (nice man) at one of our local nuseries told me that the three components in fertilizer's effect on plants could be summerized by three words (not sure in which order though) was "up, down, around". I got a good explanation but unfortunately have a poor memory. I will have to go back for a refresher course. I believe 1st component= Up=foliage (nitrogen)
Second component = Down=roots (phosphorous)
Third component=Around = overall plant health ??? (potash) I've read this stuff several times but the info just will not stick.
Yep Bellie. Not complaining. He's a sweetheart and I've just been overwhelmed the last few year's with "stuff" going on in my life. The "stuff" will soon be settled and then I will look into composting.
i read once that mushroom compost was good for hostas... so I bought some. had a bit left over, and the humus stuff was cheap enough... so i mixed the two.
I honestly have no idea what i'm doing... ROFL.
irawon -- I just started collecting in 07, so only 5 yrs with them.
So many of mine here in IL are fully open and oh so pretty.
Therese - the person who owns the biggest hosta nurser here in Ottawa claims to plant his in pure mushroom compost. Don't know if that's what makes the difference, but the hostas in his back yard are HUGE!
Speaking of potting soil, I have been getting it from Norfolk feed and seed 20lb for 7.99 and when I sent my husband he got 50lb for same price. Got good deal on the Millorganite, 36lb for 19.99. Low dose fertilizer to keep rabbits out of garden, very good for grass and hostas, etc. :)
I used to buy potting soil but I go through so much I started mixing my own using peat and perlite. A three cubic foot bale of peat is $10.00 at Lowes and I buy four cubic foot bags of perlite at a local hardware & seed store for $18.00. It saves me a lot of money. Some people add a wetting agent when using peat to make a potting mix. I don't since I never let it dry out completely.
Those are good prices! Might need to talk to the Hubbie. Well my main reason for the Millorganite was because the rabbits do not like the smell.
Then this evening when I got home I had an email type news letter from Hornbakergardens and they are ranting about the Repellex Systemic Animal Repellent, they say it makes your plants taste like hot peppers and so nothing eats them it even works on the feral hogs, gophers, voles, rabbits, deer, dogs, cats, etc.
Bellie, I googled milorganite.com for information on Milorganite. The website stated that it contains a low amount of all three components of fertillizer as well as important trace elements. Check it out.
VioaAnn, are you referring to Don Budd? He sometimes plants 3 of a kind together to get quick results. For example, his 'Patriot' is huge. However, I didn't know he plants them in pure mushroom compost. That's good to know.
Yes, Don Budd. And the three plants together works. Of course he has the raw material readily available and he's as addicted as the rest of us. But when I had my big sale last year, I completely divided most of the plants I dug and many of them were replanted in groups of three - obviously not as large as they were, but looking not far from it.
I should add, that if you divide again in a few years, you can likely lift just one of the divisions.
I did this last year because I did a MAJOR sale of my plants and raised over $1000 for the building project at my church. I do NOT plan to divide this year unless it's a variety that has not been touched in awhile and there is a really good reason to do so.
The guy at our local Seed and Feed store told me that they have stopped stocking Milorganite because heavy metals were detected in it. As a result the removal of these heavy metals have incresed the cost and it is no longer completely natural as synthetic fertilizers have been added to the product.
SO, I'm joining Frank in the use of OSMOCOTE 14-14-14 this year. I bought a 20 kilo bag, which translates to 48 pounds (20 x2.4 lbs) for $90.00. I feel when Canada converted to the metric system, we consumers got gipped. In this case by 2 pounds ($1.88).
I also bought some more bulk corn gluten meal for my hosta beds to suppress weed germination. The guy said I could apply it in a heavier quantity as it is an all natural product. He told me the nitrogen in it will make my perennials really green. However, I don't think I will apply a heavier dose because I'm going to use Osmocote as well.
The Milorganite that I have left is going on the lawn.
I'm going with Osmocote too, but still have a hard time understanding how it works when it's just sprinkled on top. Better than nothing, I guess. I used Rose Tone on my Clematis and my naughty little dog is all over that...the organic stuff smells much too enticing for dogs, I'm afraid. I wanted to use Holly Tone on my hydrangeas but it's probably impossible.
The one drawback in using corn gluten meal is that you won't get any self sown hosta seedlings.
Heat is what makes Osmocote work. The warmer the temps the more it releases. Hornbaker Gardens where I buy a lot of hosta uses a slow release fertilizer on top in their pots each Spring when they bring them out of winter storage before the hosta even start leafing out.
Good point about the hosta seedlings, Frank. Perhaps I will restrict the use of corn gluten meal to only certain areas of my hosta beds such as the edges and around some non-hosta perennials. I did transplant some hosta seedlings last year and am looking forward to seeing them develop this year.
I'm hoping to get to the rare and unusual plant sale at our experimental farm on May 13. Last year I bought H. 'Risky Business' there.