I can count on one hand the number of hail storms that I remember. My particular part of the state and the country is blessed not to receive such weather. Hip deep snows, yes, on a regular basis. Hail, not so much.
So a couple of weeks ago when it started hailing, my immediate worry was the plants. Everyone else worries, naturally enough, about their cars. I figure that my car is insured. But I am not going to make an insurance claim for my plants, most of which are annuals or vegetables. The perennials will recover and grow back. The house plants too, eventually.
But this presumes that you don’t need all those containers that are planted for a lecture any time soon–as I do. And even I am not crazy enough to go running out into a thunderstorm with hail to try to save them. If need be, I will find–or plant–something else.
So, after a hailstorm, how do you distinguish hail damage from insect damage? I guess it depends on the size of your hail.
Back in 2009, our last significant hail storm, there was no doubt. Everything was shredded.
But this time, we had small hail.
Here it is in one of my pots. At best, I would call this “pea” sized. But don’t be deceived. It can still do a lot of damage.
This hosta leaf survived pretty well because it was under a Japanese maple. The force of the hail was broken.
Contrast the hosta leaf with this begonia grandis which was out in the open (just above the pot full of hail, in fact).
These violet leaves are showing both hail damage (the leaf to the far right of the photo) and insects chewing (the top leaf in the photo). Contrast the way the leaf is chewed irregularly, and down to the ribs of the leaf, with the small circular holes caused by the hail.
Here’s more insect damage, this time on some small bean shoots. They are the plants nearest the bamboo stake–there are a few plants in the photo.
The bean leaf nearest the parsley has clearly been chewed. Do I know by what? I haven’t a clue. Since I am not seeing slug slime trails and I am seeing lots of earwigs, I will guess that it’s earwigs, but it’s just a guess. It also could be slugs.
I will watch closely just in case it turns out to be bean beetles but I have seen no evidence of those either and they are a daytime pest, so I should be seeing those.
In any event, it’s only two leaves. It’s hardly a crisis.
But at all times, it is important to be watchful in the garden, to know what’s causing plant damage, and to take action, if necessary.