Expert Tips to an Ultimate Hosta Garden
Need help keeping your hosta garden healthy throughout the season? Learn about hosta care and how to divide hostas to make your garden a "hosta heaven."
Hostas are one of the most commonly grown shade plants. Gardeners love them because they're among the easiest plants to grow and are a perfect addition to any garden. Follow these tips from the experts on everything involving hosta plant care: when and where to plant hostas, how to divide hostas, caring for hostas, and pruning hostas.
When to Divide Hostas
The best time of year to divide hostas is late summer (August or early September). But don't worry if you forget—you can divide hostas any time from spring to fall.
Dividing Hostas in the Spring
You'll have about a four-week window to divide your hostas. Dividing hostas in the spring is best before they have fully developed and when the hosta eyes are starting to grow up.
Dividing Hostas in the Fall
Fall division is also about a four-week window. September to October is the ideal time, especially in northern climates—the farther north you are, the earlier you divide. Make sure to allow at least three or four weeks for the hostas to become established before the soil freezes solid. A cooler, humid climate is best for dividing hostas.
Here's a hint: If you need to divide your hostas in the summer, be sure to keep them well-watered for a few weeks to help them get through the shock of being transplanted.
You'll know your hostas need to be divided when they get too crowded and the center of a clump starts to die out. As a general rule, count on dividing the plants every three to four years to keep them at their healthiest. Some slow-growing varieties may need more time before they're ready for division. You may be able to divide fast-growing varieties every two or three years.
Where to Plant Hostas
Making sure your hostas are planted in the correct location is key to their survival. Choose shady areas with low levels of sunlight. Hostas love moisture, so staying away from the sun and its damaging rays is an ideal part of hosta care.
You will want to plant hostas with fresh, organic matter. This way, your hosta garden will retain as much water as possible. Fresh soil also helps in disease control.
How to Divide Hostas
Every three to four years, divide hostas to keep your garden alive and well.
If your hostas aren't too large, dig out the entire clump.
- Dig around the hosta clump in a circle, then use your shovel as a lever to lift the clump out of the ground.
- Once it's out of the ground, you should notice that the clump is made up of many individual plants. If there's still a lot of soil around the plant, wash it off so you can see the hosta crowns.
- Carefully break apart the clumps into divisions made up of at least three sets of shoots coming out of a crown.
If your hostas are too large, use your shovel to cut the clump into divisions.
- Carefully dig out the sections from the original hole.
- Replant themin a low light or shady area.
Here's a hint: Many gardeners find that it's easiest to divide hostas using a garden fork or flat spade.
Basic Hosta Plant Care
Once your hostas are planted, maintenance is the easy part. Water hostas frequently—they thrive on moisture and humid climates. Too much sun dries out hostas and interrupts their growth. Although hostas are typically not disease-prone, slugs are a difficulty you may face. There are a number of different "slug traps" to rid your garden of these pests, one of which includes beer (you heard us right—beer!). Fill a shallow dish with beer and place next to your hostas. Slugs are attracted to yeast, so they'll steer away from your hostas and toward the beer trap. Also try spreading eggshells or coffee grounds around your hosta plant—both of these are fatal barriers to slugs.
Pruning your plants, or cutting away dead or overgrown plant matter, is necessary in order to keep your plant alive—and pruning hostas is no different.
Simply cut off all the yellow, damaged, or dead leaves. Make sure to remove these leaves at their root or the point where they start to emerge from the main plant. Be sure to throw away all unwanted scraps to decrease the likelihood of disease development.