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Growing hostas – Planting tips, propagation, general care and more
Last Updated on January 21, 2020 by John
Hostas are easy to grow, with bold foliage from spring through Autumn and stunning flowers emerging on spikes above the foliage. You can enjoy a plant for years at a time, and propagate from successful plants by dividing which is really easy and successful to get more of the stunning plants. Some of our favourite varieties include Gold Standard, Whirlwind, and Undulata, all of which are variegated and add a great collection of colour, best of all they are are also great plants for shady areas where most plants fail and they grow well in containers.
Where to plant Hostas
You should figure out where to plant your hostas before you buy them because once you get them from your local garden centre or even on online they should be transplanted immediately into the ground. Hostas prefer soil that is moist with partial shade but well-draining. There are a few that are tolerant of sunny conditions but it’s best to find a shady area.
How to plant Hostas
In terms of when, you can plant your hostas at any point during the year but if you can, avoid the middle of summer when temperatures are at their highest.
Plant in a shady spot in moist but well-drained soil
Hostas do best with moist soil and partial shade no matter where you plant them. That said, if you are planting in the ground, you can help out heavy clay soil by adding well-rotted manure and some horticultural grit to open the soil up a little and improve the overall drainage. You should avoid planting them anywhere that has very dry soil or is regularly exposed to the wind as they do not like this and will suffer and may even die.
Give them plenty of space to grow with adequate spacing
How you plant your hostas is contingent upon where you are growing them. If you are going to grow your hostas in borders a long your garden, it takes a matter of minutes. You plant them the same way you would plant any other perennial spacing them up to 2-3ft apart based on the ultimate height and spread they will reach, something you can verify by reading the labels.
Don’t plant too deep and water well until established
Dig a hole the depth of the root ball and twice the width of the root ball. Before you place the root ball in the hole, tease out the roots so that they are loosened. Water your hostas as soon as they are planted so that they have an opportunity to settle. Add mulch to help conserve moisture and be sure to water regularly during the first summer and during any dry weather. Try to avoid watering the large leaves if possible as this can leave watermarks on the leaves with black spots and even damage them.
If you are growing miniature hostas they need particularly good drainage so you can improve the soil by adding garden compost or grit.
Growing hostas in pots
If you want to grow hosta in pots we recommend using a mix of John Innes potting compost which is soil-based and mix it with about 50% multipurpose compost and even a little grit to improve drainage. Potted hostas usually require watering more often and it usually helps to add grit to the surface of the pot to help retain moisture and deter slugs.
Propagating hostas by division
If you have larger plants that are older, it is best to divide your plants so that you have multiple plants, generally, you should probably do this about once every 4 years. Once they’re looking overcrowded, it best to divide them either in spring just as they’re starting to grow or in autumn as they die back for winter. You should plan on dividing the hostas by either digging them out of the ground and slicing them where you see natural divots or digging directly into the ground to splice them every four or five years.
Watering and feeding
Keep hosters damp but not overwater as this can lead to root rot
For ongoing, general hosta care, your hostas need to be watered in the ground during a dry spell but they generally take care of themselves once established. You want to make sure that the soil is at least slightly damp under the surface of the soil, specially when they are in full leaf as they need lots of water to sustain the foliage. You can dig near the hosta just to verify if necessary but be careful not to damage the roots.
Mulch in spring and feed over summer with a multipurpose feed once a month
Fertile soils can benefit from an additional well-rotted manure layer or compost on an annual basis in spring. If you have poor soil you can add fertilizers during the Spring to help encourage better moisture retention and foliage which can be done once a month.
Cutting back spent flower stems
You can leave the flower stalks where they are until late Autumn when all of the leaves die back at the same time. Once this happens you can deadhead and tidy up the entire plant and simply but the plant foliage into your compost bin. Alternatively, you can wait until the blooms fade and immediately deadhead.
These plants will do exceedingly well for most of the year and the foliage dies back at the end of autumn. But the plant remains dormant until the middle of spring at which point it comes back with full growth. Nonetheless, newer leaves that emerge in the springtime can be damaged by an unexpectedly late frost which you can help by adding two or three layers of Horticultural fleece around your plants if you see that the forecast says frost is pending. If you have hostas which are grown in pots you can wrap the pots in lagging or fleece to protect the roots and they are best placed in a sheltered spot again a wall or fence or even in a cold greenhouse if you have one.
Hosta pest, diseases and other problems
There are few diseases that hostas will face, but they do battle with snails and slugs. You can protect your plants with beer traps. Be on the lookout for signs of too much direct sun, which can burn the leaves and vine weevil on the leaves and grubs which can be problematic to hostas grown in pots.