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What to Do About Hailstone Damage to Your Hostas..

Garden with a recent covering of Hailstones
Garden with a covering of Hailstones

It doesn’t matter what we do to protect our Hostas from the great Yorkshire weather, we are always on a losing streak.

Too much rain (it doesn’t seem to have stopped since last October), too little rain, having to water twice daily, freezing cold winds from all directions, late frosts and snow, and of course probably the most damaging of all, for Hostas … hailstones.

Hailstones are formed when raindrops are carried upward by thunderstorm updrafts into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere and freeze. Hailstones then grow by colliding with liquid water drops that freeze onto the hailstone's surface, even when the sun is shining.

The last hailstorm that we had, was combined with a strong wind, and looked like it came in sideways. Protection from above had little effect.

Hostas have very delicate large fleshy leaves, particularly the new growth at this time of year. The combination of fresh leaves and hail is not a good one.

When it happens, it usually doesn’t last for long. This one was no more than 10 minutes duration. Then the sun came out.

Hosta leaf with Hail damage

However, this was enough to cause lots & lots of damage to the leaves of the Hostas.

Most of our Hostas are grown in pots & containers.

All of our Hostas are grown outdoors, and the more exposed Hostas, the leaves were shredded. The more sheltered Hostas were just potted with holes. Some escaped completely as they were behind a hedge or fence, protecting them from the worst of the hail & wind, coming in sideways.

The question is …. What can we do about the damage?

The good news, if there is to be any good news, is that Hostas are still young and have a lot of growing ahead of them for this season. So even if you do nothing, they will recover and carry on as normal.

So, what if you do nothing? You will not only have some ugly looking plants, there will also be a lot of damaged leaves. These leaves, if left, will be prey to a host of predators. Particularly as the leaves are young and juicy, just right for slugs & snails to have a go at. Once they start on those, the rest of the plant is at risk.

So, do I cut them back, or take off the damaged leaves?

It will depend on both the amount of damage to the individual Hosta and how big the Hostas is at this point in the season. Remember, being grown outdoors in the Yorkshire weather, some of these will still only just be starting to show.

Hosta leaf with Hail damage

With the more established Hostas, which will normally be bigger by now, there will probably be more open leaves and therefore probably more damage done by the storm. These will be the ones that have been shredded.

The damaged leaves will need to be removed, allowing the unaffected, stronger growth come out from the middle. Remove all the leaf, back to the outer base. These are not infected and can therefore be composted.

Some of the Hostas won’t look so bad, so should we be cutting these back as well?

The very young Hostas, 1 yr old or less, will still be quite small. It may not be prudent to remove all the foliage. Why not give it a few weeks for more foliage to grow, before cutting off the damaged leaves. Keep a sharp eye out for any predator action.

Those, somewhere in between, it is a judgement call. Just don’t de-nude the Hosta if you can help it. Take off what you are comfortable with. Remember, these plants will recover quite quickly.

Some advice around suggests that you can cut the whole plant down and let it re-sprout. This is not good advice! Do not try this at home! You do not need to remove any undamaged foliage at all. The plant needs the foliage to create its food. If you take it all away, it must work that much harder to get back to where it was.

Those more established Hostas, already planted in borders, the suggestion is the same. Newly planted Hostas clean up carefully, but those established clumps, tidy up any damaged leaves.

If you are lucky enough to know in advance about a hailstorm, and I am not sure we ever will, your plants can be protected with sheets of cloth, hessian, fleece or plastic. You need to know well in advance though.

Hailstorms appear almost out of nowhere, and there is very little we can do to protect and exposed Hostas before it happens.

We just have to roll with it! and think ourselves lucky we are not in America where everything is bigger!!!

Car in America with Extreme Haistone Damage
Car in America with Extreme Hailstone Damage

Shop for Hostas HERE


John Plant

Rewela Hostas

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