I have hostas and hellebores in a corner shade garden that are not doing well. Every summer for the last 2-3 yr the hostas start to turn brown, and wilt, but do not die completely. I was going to replace them last fall, but the root ball looked ok. They came up this spring, but now they are wilting again. The hellebores in the same area are finicky. A number have died, and 2 plants look good. Could this be nematodes? Your publications talk about this with regards to crops, but not with garden ornamentals. I am thinking of simply digging up much of the soil in this area and replacing it.
Nematodes can be in any soil and can affect ornamentals just like crops. Before you begin removing soil, why not take a soil sample with some of the hosta roots with it into your local county extension office. For a fee you can get the soil tested for nematodes, and then a recommendation for control. Here is a link to our website on how to take a sample for nematode testing. http://www.aragriculture.org/nematodes/nematode_clinic.htm I do think that potentially there is something wrong with the site, since various unrelated plants are struggling. However, if the root system looked good on the hostas, then nematodes may not be the culprit. Nematodes feed on the root system of the plants and cause stunted and/or deformed roots. I would also suggest taking a regular soil sample in to your county extension office and see about the pH and nutrition levels. I would also consider taking one of the hostas that is struggling in to be sent to the disease diagnostic lab. This is a free service of our extension service. When we have problems in the garden, you have to be a detective and cover as many bases as possible to find out what is causing the plants to suffer.
All links to external sites open in a new window. You may return to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture web site by closing this window when you are finished. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information, or the accessibility for people with disabilities listed at any external site.
Links to commercial sites are provided for information and convenience only. Inclusion of sites does not imply University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture's approval of their product or service to the exclusion of others that may be similar, nor does it guarantee or warrant the standard of the products or service offered.
The mention of any commercial product in this web site does not imply its endorsement by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture over other products not named, nor does the omission imply that they are not satisfactory.