Q: My hostas now have tiny holes in the leaves. Is this early for slugs? What can it be?
A: This has been such an unusual year for the weather that you will have to be a detective to figure out what is making the holes in your hosta foliage. Let's start with the weird weather. Did you have one of those early hail storms this year? In some places, tiny hail made holes in many plants with newly emerging, soft foliage. These holes will appear more like rips, and you may see the leaf tissue still partly attached to the round hole.
Frosty water droplets also can cause holes in leaves. Were your plants up when that freaky frost happened? Pale mushy or shriveled leaves are also a sign of frost damage.
It is early and a bit cool for fungus problems, but that could be the issue if you notice black spots that turn into holes. Spray with a readily available rose fungicide.
But if it is slugs, and it very well might be, you can use the tried-and-true methods. Slug bait is available at nurseries, but you should be sure to keep it away from birds or pets. The easiest way is to make a small mound of the pellets beneath a concave rock or a plant saucer. Be sure that it is in the path toward your hostas but not where your pets can get to it.
Another remedy is a straight-sided saucer with about 3/4 of an inch of beer. It will attract slugs, and they will probably die a very happy death. Empty it every day.
A plain square board will protect a bunch of slugs in the heat of the day, overturn the hiding place, and you can sprinkle them with salt and end them. You can take your morning grapefruit half and turn it upside down in the evening, and by morning you should have a bunch of slugs that you can deposit in the garbage.
You also can sprinkle lime on the ground around your hostas, and that will reduce slug infestations.
Do your investigating, and keep using any of these low-tech methods, and your slug population should be reduced.
Contact Pat Lea at firstname.lastname@example.org.