Mysterious holes…

Learned something interesting earlier this spring. A man came into the nursery, and asked if we could help him identify what was wrong with his Hosta leaves. They had holes, but there was no sign of anything eating them. Instead, they were shredded along the veins, like in the photo below.

See how they are shredded along the veins? We were mystified... (Photo from Missouri Botanical Garden.)

See how they are shredded along the veins? We were mystified… (Photo from Missouri Botanical Garden.)

Long story short – we’re not one to turn down a good mystery. We eventually learned that in springs where temperatures yo-yo up and down a lot like it did this past one, this might happen. During warming periods, plants are encouraged to grow, only to be hit by a hard frost once they get started. If they – like these Hostas – were still in their bullet stage (as in rolled up tight, as they emerge) when the hard frost hit, the fluids contained within the leaves might freeze, which causes them to expand. If this happens when they are in their tightly rolled up state, causes them to rip the leaves apart along the veins. So, when the leaves finally open, they have this shredded look.

Hostas in their bullet stage.

Hostas in their bullet stage.

This discovery made a bit of an impression on me. I’d never have expected that something like that could happen, but it really does make perfect sense, so why not? Soon after, I discovered a similar phenomenon in my own garden. It was the large leaves of my Podophyllum pleianthum, which when they unfolded yielded a similar thing…

Podophyllum pleianthum with holes

After the yo-yoing temperatures of his spring, the umbrella foliage of my Podophyllum pleianthum opened up with these odd holes randomly strewn throughout its large umbrella leaves.

Odd, aren't they?

Odd, aren’t they?

After the yo-yoing temperatures of his spring, the umbrella foliage of my Podophyllum pleianthum opened up with these odd holes randomly strewn throughout its large umbrella leaves.

Here’s another close -up.

At least I think that is what these are – freeze damaged as a result of temperature fluctuations. One of the greatest things about this obsession is that you keep learning new things – there is something to marvel at just about every day. For now, I’m going to believe that this is what caused my shredded leaves. If you have a better answer to this mystery, please let me know. I’m all ears…

About annamadeit

Born and raised in Sweden, my aesthetics and outlook on life are strongly shaped by a culture rich in history and tradition. I care a great deal about environmental responsibility, and my aesthetic reflects the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia. I was trained as an architect at the University of Cincinnati and as a color specialist at the Scandinavian Colour Institute in Stockholm. I'm obsessed with plants and gardens, and aim to take my skill set a step further by designing gardens as well as interiors. As someone so aptly said: " Architecture is the skin that separates the exterior from the interior". So true - you can't successfully focus on one without incorporating the other. I'm also an avid cook, and I love to ski. In addition, I put time and efforts into trying to rectify things that I feel are wrong in my immediate community. As you will see, The Creative Flux will touch on all these things, and more. For sure, it's all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blog!
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15 Responses to Mysterious holes…

  1. I didn’t know this! Thank you!

  2. Hmmm…that makes sense…I have them too and well, I’ll take that over a mystery bug in the middle of the night. I like it!

  3. rickii says:

    Always fun to learn something new. I like that hostas have a “bullet phase” before they unfurl and become totally non-threatening.

    • annamadeit says:

      Isn’t that funny? I had some vague memory of there being a term for it, but couldn’t remember what it was, so I looked it up. Maybe next time, I’ll remember… it is a rather striking term.

  4. mattb325 says:

    Amazing – I would never have guessed that. But it’s akin to cutting up the edges and centres of folded paper to make little patterns when unfolded. Nifty!

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh absolutely! Maybe there is a way to control where the holes are and what they look like – you know like control joints in concrete? Now you got an idea into my head… 😉

  5. Good sleuthing 😊 I never thought about that sort of damage to leaves, but it makes perfect sense . Glad to know it wasn’t insect damage .

    • annamadeit says:

      Yes, that’s for sure – for as sad as any damage is to such fabulous leaves, this kind is much more tolerable than the snacking of insects.

      • True, but you are right that it is sad to see, and the damage is there for the season. These late frosts really wreck havoc with so many plants. A great post 😉 WG

  6. Kris P says:

    Interesting finding (even if I’m lucky enough not to have a problem with frost).

  7. This is really interesting. I’ve had holes like this before but always thought it was some weird bug. Now I know!

  8. annamadeit says:

    Pretty cool, isn’t it? No bug – just physics!

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