What To Spray on Hostas for Bugs?

Hostas‘ velvety, heart-shaped leaves make them a favorite of gardeners and pests alike. Aphids, snails, and pill bugs love to nibble on hostas and can quickly decimate a plant if not controlled.

To keep your hostas healthy, it’s essential to regularly inspect them for pests and take steps to manage any infestations.

You can spray your hostas with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, or neem oil to kill and repel pests. Pepper is also an effective natural pest repellent; you can use it in a homemade spray. When spraying hostas, coat the underside of the leaves, as most pests like to hide here.

There’s nothing worse than seeing your beautiful hostas attacked by garden bugs, but don’t worry, there are ways and means of eradicating these destructive pests.

Please read on to explore what to spray on hostas for bugs, including natural and homemade solutions. We’ll also provide some tips on preventing pests from infesting your plants in the first place.

Bug Sprays for Hostas

While several broad-spectrum insecticides on the market will kill most bugs affecting hostas, they can also harm beneficial insects, such as bees and ladybirds.

If you are looking for a more natural solution, there are several homemade and organic sprays you can use to control pests on your hostas. You can easily prepare these sprays using ingredients that you probably already have in your home.

Horticultural Oil

Horticultural oil is a petroleum-based product that suffocates and kills most kinds of soft-bodied insects, such as aphids, mites, and whiteflies. It is relatively safe and will not harm beneficial insects, such as bees and ladybirds.

When applied to the bugs, it blocks their spiracles (breathing holes), causing them to suffocate and die. It also disrupts the metabolism of the pests’ eggs and their feeding ability, causing them to starve to death. You can purchase horticultural oils from most garden stores or online retailers.

To make your own horticultural oil spray do the following:

  1. Mix one cup of oil with one tablespoon of dish soap and one gallon (3.7L) of water in a clean spray bottle.
  2. Shake the mixture thoroughly until the mixture turns white.
  3. Dilute as needed and spray to the affected plants, covering all the nooks and crannies where pests may be hiding, including the undersides.
  4. Apply the spray in the evening, as the oil can cause leaves to scorch in direct sunlight.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural, plant-based oil extracted from the neem tree’s seeds. It is a popular organic insecticide used to control a wide variety of pests, including aphids, mites, whiteflies, and beetles.

Neem oil interferes with the pests’ ability to feed and reproduce. It also disrupts the life cycle of many pests, causing them to die before adulthood. You can purchase neem oil from a garden store or prepare your spray at home.

To make a neem oil spray, you will need 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of neem oil, 1 liter (34 fl oz) of warm water, and 1-2 ml of mild liquid soap or detergent. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Mix the soap with water in a clean spray bottle. Shake the mixture until you have dissolved all the soap.
  2. Add the neem oil to the mixture and shake again.
  3. Spray on the affected plants, covering the undersides of leaves where pests often hide.

Peppermint Oil

Another effective way to control your hostas’ pests is peppermint oil. It is a natural, plant-based oil extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant. Peppermint oil has a strong, pungent smell that deters many pests, including aphids, mites, whiteflies, and beetles. It is eco-friendly and has no side effects on humans, animals, or plants.

To make a peppermint oil spray, follow these simple steps:

  1. Mix 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of peppermint oil with 1 liter (34 fl oz) of warm water in a clean spray bottle.
  2. Add a few drops of liquid soap or detergent to help the peppermint oil stick to the leaves better.
  3. Shake well before spraying on the affected plants.

Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap is a safe and eco-friendly way to control pests on your plants. It works by dissolving the protective wax coating on the insects’ bodies, causing them to dehydrate and die.

Unfortunately, insecticidal soaps aren’t effective on chewing bugs such as beetles and caterpillars.

Due to its harsh nature, insecticidal soap can also damage the leaves of your plants if not used properly. You can try it out on a small area of the plant first to see if there are any adverse effects after 24 hours before spraying it on the entire plant.

To prepare insecticidal soap, follow these steps:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon insecticidal soap with 1 liter (0.26 gal.) of water in a clean spray bottle.
  2. Shake well and spray directly on the pests, covering every nook and cranny.
  3. Apply the spray in the evening to avoid harming beneficial insects, such as bees, that are active during the day.

If you are using a purchased insecticidal soap, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label for best results.

Common Bugs That Affect Hostas

The succulent leaves of hostas are a tasty treat for many common garden pests. Since most of these pests feed on the undersides of leaves, you may not notice them until they have done significant damage. The following are some of the most common bugs that affect hostas:


An aphid is a small, pear-shaped bug that sucks the sap of plants. They are often found in large groups on the undersides of leaves and can cause distortion or yellowing of the foliage. Aphids also produce a sticky substance called honeydew, which can attract ants and promote the growth of sooty mold.

Snails and Slugs

Snails and slugs are the most common bugs that affect hostas in moist, shady conditions. These slimy pests chew holes in the leaves of plants and destroy a hosta quickly if left unchecked.

They are nocturnal creatures and love hiding in mulch or under rocks during the day. These slimy critters leave a trail of slime behind as they move, so it’s easy to tell if you have an infestation. It’s best to look for them when the conditions are damp at night because they will emerge from their lairs to feast on your plants.

Pill Bugs

Pill bugs, also known as rolly pollies, are small, segmented insects that love to feast on hosta leaves. They are often found in damp, shady areas and usually attach to the underside of leaves. Pill bugs can distort the foliage and may eventually kill a plant if left unchecked.


Japanese beetles and other types of beetles are common pests of hostas. These shiny, hard-bodied insects chew on the leaves of plants, causing them to turn brown and die. You can often spot adult beetles flying around in gardens, and their larvae (grubs) live in the soil, feeding on plant roots.

Deer, Rabbits, and Other Mammals

While not technically bugs, deer, rabbits, and other mammals can cause severe damage to hostas. These animals love to munch on the tender leaves of plants and can quickly destroy a host.

If you live in an area with a high population of deer or rabbits, like Georgia, Alabama, and Oklahoma, erecting a fence around your garden is the best way to protect your plants. You can also use a deer or rabbit repellent to deter these animals from entering your garden.

How To Prevent Bugs From Attacking Your Hostas

While there are several ways to get rid of pests that have already infested your plants, the best way to deal with them is to prevent them from attacking in the first place. Here are a few tips to help you keep your hostas bug-free:

  • Keep your garden clean: Pests are attracted to cluttered and messy gardens. Keep your garden tidy and free of debris to deter them from setting up shop. Regularly remove dead leaves and stems, and dispose of them in the trash.
  • Plant-resistant varieties: Some hosta varieties are more resistant to pests than others. Talk to your local nursery or gardening center to find out which types are best for your area.
  • Encourage beneficial insects: Beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, help keep pests in check. Attract them to your garden by planting various flowers that bloom at different times of the year. You can also purchase them from a garden center or online and release them into your garden.
  • Fence off your garden: A wall can go a long way in keeping pests out of your garden. Deer, rabbits, and other animals are known to munch on hostas, so a fence will help keep them away.
  • Plant bug-repelling plants: Some plants, such as marigolds, mint, and Rosemary, deter pests with their pungent smell. Plant them around the perimeter of your garden to keep pests at bay.
  • Check your plants regularly: Inspect your plants regularly for signs of pests or damage. Catching an infestation as it begins is key to preventing it from getting out of control.

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Final Thoughts

Bugs such as aphids, pill bugs, beetles, and snails can wreak havoc on your hostas when left unchecked, turning even the lushest, picturesque garden into an unsightly mess. Spraying your plants with insecticidal soap, neem oil, or peppermint oil is an effective way to eliminate these pests.

You can also prevent them from attacking in the first place by keeping your garden clean, planting resistant varieties, and encouraging beneficial insects. You can keep your hostas looking their best all season long with a little effort.

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