How to get rid of hostas pests.

How to Stop Bugs from Eating Hostas (Naturally)

So, you have bugs eating your hostas plants. And you need to stop them to protect your hostas.

In this complete tutorial, you’ll learn:

  • How to identify what’s eating your hostas leaves
  • How to prevent bugs from attacking your plant
  • Natural ways to get rid of bugs on your hostas
  • How to repel pests to protect your hostas
  • And more

By the end of this guide, you’ll have everything you need to know to effectively get started and safeguard your hostas from bugs so it can flourish.

Feel free to bookmark this page for quick reference!

And if you have any questions, ask me by leaving a comment.

Sound good? Let’s dive in.

What keeps eating my hostas?

Hostas damage from bugs.
Hostas plants are a common target for slugs and snails.

Hostas, or plantain lilies, have a lot of natural bugs that like to chew on the leaves and take a big bite out of ’em.

There are usually two main culprits that eat hostas plants. It’s usually bugs or animals.

This should be relatively easy for you to determine by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you see deer, rabbits, chipmunks, or other critters in your yard?
  • Or do your hostas seem to “magically” get holes out of nowhere?

What animal will eat hostas?

There are a few animals that eat hostas, such as voles, squirrels, deer, rabbits, and small rodents. If you have any of these animals native to your area, they may be the culprit for why you have damaged plants.

These succulents provide plenty of nutrient-dense leaves which animals have no problem consuming, so you can expect holes or damaged leaves. Some larger animals like deer will eat the leaves by the mouthful, whereas rabbits will tend to nibble on the plant here and there.

Either way, these animals can cause some major damage to them. This is why you should fence off the plant from them. You can relocate the plant or use mesh to cover the entirety of the leaves. Or if you have native animals, you can use some kind of barrier or fencing to protect the plant.

But then again, animals may be hard to control. Especially if you’re on a farm.

You should check to make sure that it’s actually an animal or bug that’s eating your plant first before you do anything. This way, you’re repelling the right pest and save yourself the time and energy.

What bugs eat hostas?

Plantain lily pest damage on plant leaves.
Plantain lilies can be protected by using some DIY remedies.

As for bugs, there are quite a few that feed on hostas leaves.

The most popular ones are cutworks, beetles, aphids, grasshoppers, slugs, snails, pill bugs and spider mites.

The methods outlined in this DIY pest control guide will help get you started on repelling those bugs and protein your hostas plant.

If you have any of those bugs listed, read the linked pest control guide for each one to learn how to get rid of it.

If you see animals and rodents in your yard, chances are that they’re feeding on your plant. Whether or not you’re there. If the problem comes from an animal, you can use natural repellent, set up fencing, or use a protective plant mesh to cover your hostas.

If you don’t see animals, then you probably have bugs that are eating your leaves. This guide will cover how to kill and prevent bugs. Let’s get started.

Homemade remedies to protect hosta plants from bugs

Hostas damage.
You can kill and repel pests from your hosta plant using some basic techniques.

Here are some home remedies you can do to stop pests from eating your hostas. Test a few of them out and see what works best for your situation. These should stop bugs from eating your hostas.

Use strong pepper

Pepper will drive off bugs that come near your hostas plant without damaging the plant itself.

The reason why pepper is so effective is that it emits a very powerful scent that many pests can’t stand.

Thus, it’s an effective natural repellent against many types of bugs. Without harming your hostas.

  • You never should apply pepper directly to the plant, as this can be too strong.
  • Make a pepper spray by diluting it with water.
  • Get a small spray bottle and add 3 cups of water and a half cup of pepper.
  • Swirl the mixture until the pepper is evenly distributed in the bottle.
  • Then add 1 tablespoon of dish soap to help make the pepper “stick” to the hostas. If you don’t add dish soap, the pepper spray will simply fall off the plant or evaporate.
  • Dish soap is safe for hostas when used correctly and also repels pests.
  • Spray the repellent on the hostas leaves evenly. This will stick the pepper on there and repel any bugs that try to eat and make holes in your hostas leaves.

You’ll find that the pepper is effective for many pests and this may be all you need to stop them.

You can change the concentration of pepper and also use different types, such as chili, cayenne, etc. Reduce the pepper amount if you notice plant damage. Or add more if you notice the pepper doesn’t seem to be working.

Depending on how much soap you use, you may be able to keep the pepper on the hostas even after light rains or winds. Reapply as necessary.

Check your plant every week to see if the pepper is still stuck on there.

Mint oil

Mint is another DIY remedy that you can do for cheap.

You can buy mint in essential oil form at most grocery stores. Add a few drops (2-3 drops) to 1 cup of water and 8 drops of dish soap.

Mix it all together in a spray bottle and then spray your hostas with it. The solution will stick to the leaves just like the pepper and keep the bugs away.

You have to apply again after rains or wind, but it should be relatively effective during the process. You can also use more mint or less water to make the solution stronger.

Fresh mint

You can buy mint at the store and just chop up some fresh cut mint.

Sprinkle it around your hostas in the soil or container if you have it potted. The smell of mint repels bugs naturally. Replace the mint when you see it start to rot. Mint’s strong odor acts as a natural repellent.

Keep adding mint until all the bugs are gone, or until you find some other permanent way to keep the bugs away and protect your plant.

You may have to do this for an extended period if necessary if bugs are always a problem for your hostas.

Citrus oil

You can also use citrus essential oil as a spray to protect your plant.

Just like pepper and mint, you can use citrus in the form of lime or lemon. Add 4 drops to 1 cup of water.

Then add 8 drops of dish soap. Mix it together and spray it on your hostas.

Similar to the other techniques on this page, you’ll want to apply again when it rains or when you notice the effectiveness of the repellent wearing off.

Citronella oil

Citronella is a very effective pest repellent and can protect your hostas from pests.

You can use many different forms of it such as citronella sprays, candles, or even oils. Any of them will be effective.

You can use citronella spray as directed on the label if you buy it, or you can make your own citronella repellent at home. Just add 20 drops of citronella oil, 10 drops of dish soap, and 2 cups of water into a spray bottle.

Citronella candles

You can also light citronella around your hostas.

The candles repel all sorts of pests, from mosquitoes to earwigs. Of course, this can’t be a permanent solution because the candles will get expensive and you can’t always have candles outdoors.

This can be a temporary solution as you get your pest problem sorted.

Lemon juice

You can also spray lemon or lime just directly onto the plant as a spray. Just mix equal parts lemon juice and water.

And then spray it on your plant to keep the bugs away from it. Pests hate lemon and lime juice, or any citrus, so that should offer some safety for your hostas plant. This is a cheap and effective way to get rid of bugs on hostas.

Use fresh lemons

You can cut up lemons and place the slices around your hostas plant. The scent of the citrus fruit may help deter the bugs and protect the leaves.


Onion is another powerful veggie that pests hate. You can cut up and dice an onion and then sprinkle the pieces all over the soil around your hostas.

The scent of the powerful onion will keep bugs away and maybe even get rid of some that are already eating your plant. This method is cheap and effective.

Tea tree oil

You can use tea tree oil as another essential oil to keep bugs from eating your hostas. First, you’ll have to buy some oil at a specialty shop. Check apothecaries or department stores.

After that, add just 8 drops to 2 cups of water. Stir gently. Tea tree oil happens to be very odorous and powerful, so you’ll want to test the spray on a small part of the hostas first. Make sure the plant doesn’t burn. If it’s OK, then spray the whole thing.

Allow the plant 48 hours to react to the oil first. Tea tree oil will help prevent bugs from eating your hosta leaves and making holes all over your plant. You may have difficulty finding pure tea tree oil, but you should get it as pure as you possibly can.

Also, be aware that some pets and humans are sensitive to the methods on this list, so always do your research first before attempting anything.

This is one of the best ways to get rid of bugs on hostas.

Dish soap

You can make a dish soap at home quite easily by using 2 tablespoons of dish detergent to 1 gallon of water. Stir the mixture gently and you’ll have a gallon of liquid bug killer you can use on your hostas plants.

Pour some of the dish soap mixture into a spray bottle and spray it directly on your plant leaves. This mixture will kill bugs like thrips, green aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites that are currently on the plant. Dish soap even repels skunks!

Be sure to get the underside of the leaves also because many pests hide under there or lay eggs. Reapply every other day until the pests are gone.

Just like any other DIY mixture, test some out on a small part of the plant first before using on the entire hostas.

Vegetable oil

Adding vegetable oil to your dish soap mixture can help by making it more “sticky” and lasting longer. Consider adding 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (any type) to your DIY dish soap recipe.

This is called horticultural oil and will stick to the leaves so you don’t have to apply the pesticide/repellent so often.


Herbal teas can be an effective repellent for slugs and snails, especially wormwood tea. You can buy this tea online or at specialty shops. Add 2 tablespoons of wormwood leaves to 2 cups of water.

Then spray your hosta leaves with the tea.

This will kill many pests- such as slugs and snails. Another excellent way to get rid of bugs on hostas naturally without any chemicals. The tea is safe for plants, but you’ll still need to test it first.


You can kill worms by using cornmeal and sprinkling some on your hosta leaves. Many worms, such as cutworms, eat the cornmeal and will die because they’re not able to tolerate the food.

Cover your plant

Lastly, if you have animals eating your hostas plants such as rabbits, deer, or chipmunks, you can use a protective mesh cover to save your plants.

Or you can get a barrier to prevent these animals from coming close to your hostas plants in the first place. Consider using some sturdy mesh or fencing for animals.

What kills slugs on hostas?

Slug outdoors.
Slugs and snails eat hostas plants like crazy.

Slugs are a major source of holes in your hostas leaves.

They munch through the plant like no tomorrow and leave jagged and irregular holes in your leaves. Snails are also just as bad.

To get rid of them, avoid using a synthetic pesticide and consider using these natural and organic control methods first.

Use your coffee grounds if you drink coffee. And if you don’t, buy some.

Coffee grounds are a natural and safe way to get rid of slugs on your hostas. The caffeine coffee grounds is the magic key that’ll kill slugs when they feed on your leaves. The slugs don’t even need to eat it, they just crawl over it and it’ll kill them.

Other than coffee grounds, you can also make slug traps by using small planters and turning them upside down. Put some pieces of cardboard or paper towels under the planter and roll them or stack them on each other. Leave the pot there overnight. The next day, you’ll find that there are slugs under the pot. Go ahead and dispose of them.

Beer traps

You can also use beer in a pan to kill slugs. Get a small bowl or frisbee and fill it up to the top with beer. Any cheap alcohol can do the job. Leave it out overnight.

Slugs will be attracted to the beer and then drown in it.

Manual removal

Last is to manually remove slugs by hand. You can do this at night when they come out to feed. Wear gloves and pick them off and then dispose of them.

Also, check for snail eggs that might be in the soil around your hostas. Use a flashlight to spot them. Slugs typically hide on the bottom of leaves that are damaged or dark areas.

Use commercial slug killer

Out of options? Then use some commercial slug killer.

Since I don’t suggest using these due to harmful pesticides, all I can say is to read the directions on the package and use it as directed. Get a natural or organic one if possible.

How to prevent holes in hosta leaves

The main reason you have holes in your hostas leaves is simply from pests or animals that are eating your plant.

Use a combination of the DIY methods to protect your plant on this page and you should be able to reduce the number of bugs or animals munching on your leaves.

Assuming that you don’t have a plant nutrient deficiency, the only other reason for the jagged or weirdly shaped holes on your plant is often from bugs and animals.

Bugs will eat the leaves for their nutrients and this causes holes in your hosta leaves.

What do you do with holes in hostas?

Hostas holes damaged by pests.
Hostas eaten by bugs or animals will have visible damage.

Prune them. Rather than letting the holes stay there and rot, you should prune them off your hostas so the plant doesn’t waste energy trying to grow that leaf.

There’s no reason to keep the leaf there was the plant doesn’t grow leaves back after being eaten.

Will hostas grow back after being eaten?

The leaves won’t regrow, but the plant will continue to branch out with new leaves. The root system will continue to grow more stems and leaves to replace the eaten ones.

But you need to take care of the pest or animal problem first or else they’ll just get eaten again.

Do hostas multiply?

Hosta plants are grown from a single rhizome. The plant enlarges from the single rhizome and then eventually can be divided into smaller hosta plants.

Hostas multiply slowly and don’t make new roots until the first foliage hardens off. You can divide your hostas plant manually, but you should wait until the plant is ready to be split.

How do you keep hostas healthy?

Fertilize them using an all-purpose fertilizer each spring. You can also use granular fertilizers but never leave the granules directly onto the leaves.

Keep the leaves and crown rot free. Hostas are a sturdy plant that doesn’t need much maintenance as they’re disease-free for the most part.

Their succulent leaves attract slugs and snails, but you can use a variety of home remedies to keep bugs away such as tea tree oil, dish soap, and manual removal.

Further reading

Here are some additional resources you can reference that may be useful for you:

Did you get rid of the bugs on your hostas?

Hosta plants outdoors no pests.
Protect your plants and be patient.

That’s all I have for you.

You now have a good foundation to get started and protect your plant.

You can now repel, kill, and deter common pests that eat hostas, and with this knowledge, you should be able to safeguard your plants.

This guide took some time to put together so if you find it helpful, leave a comment and let me know. Tell a friend who also has hostas or share it on your social media =]!

If you have any questions, you can comment below for a quick response!

10 thoughts on “How to Stop Bugs from Eating Hostas (Naturally)”

  1. This year we transplanted our hostas, unfortunately we got busy with the rest of the garden and now we find them all in a sad shape (many holes and discoloured). Do I dispose of the unhealthy plants and start again taking proper care. Do you have another solution?

  2. Hi, I am on my way to a beautiful hosta garden by a dry creek bed. But……the slugs have shown up, yuk.
    Have been using the beer method, but am creeped out by having to look at the little buggers.
    Sooooooo, I appreciate all your recipes and can’t wait to try them ! Thank you!

  3. As I website possessor I believe the content matter here is rattling excellent , appreciate it for your hard work. You should keep it up forever! Best of luck.

  4. Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the
    challenges. It was really informative. Your website is extremely helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

  5. Linda Naylor

    Thank you for all the recipes, to fight bugs against hostas, The edges get chewed which might make you think animal, But then you get a big chewed out area in the middle of leaves, I usually pinch off damaged leaf, I have been trying diatomaceous earth, It works as long as I keep it powdered on thick, But it has been raining every other day, Going to try some of your concoctions, Also soap and neem oil, Have not so far seen any of the bugs, Have also hatched out some of the lacewings, Should get me some preying mantis, Except they eat the good bugs too.

  6. Enjoyed reading what you have suggested and will try them on my hosta garden. Since some of the leaves were torn, I thought perhaps the neighborhood bunny or maybe a turtle since we have a creek in the back yard. I had some Neem oil for another plant and wonder if that could be used on the hostas. Do you have any suggestions on using that? Thanks again for your information.

  7. My husband weed Wacker my NEW king hosta clear down to the ground. All you can see is a small piece of stem peaking through the ground. What can I do to help it grow back or is it trashed at this point? Please help!

  8. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell andgave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” Sheput the shell to her ear and screamed. There wasa hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but Ihad to tell someone!

  9. I have maybe 90 different hostas. I have had a few slugs but this year has been hit heavily by them. I am concerned by what is happening to the stems, though. It loks like something is burrowing them. Is this the slugs or some other critter. Also, I have used lots of pine needles for mulch. Is this a good move? I have in the past used leaves for mulch. Please help!

  10. My hosts was coming up and the next time I looked the leaves were gone. 😳
    I looked closer and there is rolley polley’s all around the base of the plant. 🤷‍♀️ Do you have any suggestions?

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