Sunday, September 18, 2011

Banish the Garden Thugs

How can I take back my gardens from the voles – little brown rodents with short tails that love to eat plant roots all year long? This year the vole population has exploded and I am seeing signs of vole damage in all my hosta gardens.

Voles love the big fleshy roots of my hosta plants. These mouse-like creatures burrow through the garden, creating shallow tunnels to travel through. When they find some tender hosta roots underground – they can stop for a meal, eating a little, or the whole root system and even the plant’s crown.

The other day my husband was mowing the lawn and reported that he saw a whole hosta turned upside down. He thought a large animal had dug up the plant. When I inspected the plant closely, I discovered that all the roots were missing. This was no large animal, it was a small, four inch, beady-eyed vole on a vegetarian diet.

Usually my vole damage to hostas is minimal over the summer because there are lots of food options available. I usually see more damage in winter as their activities continues under the snow.  I need to get these little herbivores in check before the winter snow flies.
How can I get the voles under control? All summer I have been setting traps and have had little success catching anything. I am stepping up the fight this fall. I'm planting a few key hosta in wire baskets to help keep the voles at a distance.  I’m spreading castor oil pellets throughout the gardens as a deterrent because they do not like the oil on their coat. I also ordered Capsaicin tablets – little pellets of hot pepper that can be tucked under the plant.  The voles will not like the taste of the hot pepper that is absorbed through of the plant's root system. 

There is no guaranteed method for fighting these little garden thugs. I can only hope that a combination of tactics will help reduce the vole population and stop the damage to my hosta plants.


  1. That sounds horrible! It was such a beautiful plant. Hope there will be less voles in your garden next season. Olga.

  2. Same concern for lilies... my best weapon?... the farm cats from next door! Larry

  3. Hi!

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    ~ Janey


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