Herbicides are chemicals
meant to kill herbs i.e. plants that do not form a woody
stem. The most commonly used
2,4-D which is used to control broadleaf
weeds in the lawn. If you have ever used it and have
seen the dandelions twist and turn and become distorted
as they slowly die, that is what 2,4-D does to plants.
It is an effect called epinasty and it is...nasty.
Well, when other plants,
such as hostas are exposed to this chemical, they also
respond with twisted, distorted, bubbly and bumpy
foliage. Most of the exposure occurs accidentally when
liquid herbicides are sprayed on the nearby lawn during
a windy day. The drift goes over and lands on
"non-target" plants including the
A less understood source
of the contamination is through miss-application of
fertilizers. Everyone seems to understand
the "Feed" part of the equation but they don't always
realize that the "Weed" part is a plant killer. They use
broadcast spreaders and, when they get near the hosta
bed or border, some of the pellets fly around. Later,
they melt in the next rain or irrigation and enter the
root system of the hosta.
The best thing to do is
to avoid the contact in the first place by using
herbicides sparingly and more cautiously. Normally, a
healthy, established hosta will not die from exposure
but will look terrible for the rest of the season.
Fortunately, the foliage dies back in the fall and
usually, the new foliage the following year will be o.k.