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Past Articles Library | Growing Hostas

If you are looking for an easy perennial to grow then you should consider the hosta.  This perennial plant comes in several different shades of green and cream.  To add a splash of color, the hosta will send up a flower stalk that can be covered in light pink to lavender blooms.

Most people believe that hostas can only survive in shady areas.  While this is true, there are varieties that can tolerate partial shade that stays sunnier than the traditional definition of partial shade but not as sunny as direct shade.  To guide you into the proper sunlight requirement, take a look at your plant.  If the leaves are a lighter color then they require more sunlight.  On the other hand, if they are dark green then they require shade. 

Beyond the sunlight requirement, hostas need a slightly acidic soil.

Once you have the perfect location picked out, the next step is to plant your hosta.  To begin this process, one will need to dig a hole that is the same depth as the pot that your hosta is plant in.  The width needs to 2 to 3 times wider than the pot.  After the hole has been dug, test out the hole by placing the potted hosta in the hole and adjust as needed.

The next step in this process is to take care of your newly planted hosta.  Established hostas require little care but newly planted ones will need to have their soil moisture monitored.  Do not let the roots dry out but do not overwater.  Hostas like an even soil moisture level when they are newly planted.  As they age in the landscaping, they can tolerate some dryness. 

Once your hosta has been in the ground for a year, you can begin to fertilize it with an all-purpose fertilizer in the spring.  The easiest way to do this is by adding a slow release fertilizer to the soil.  Whether you choose this technique or a weekly fertilization schedule, make sure not to let fertilizer sit on leaves.  This will cause the leaves to burn.

Two problems that hostas can suffer from is crown rot and slugs.  Crown rot is caused by heavy soils and/or wet environmental conditions.  While you cannot control the weather, making sure you have planted your hosta in well draining soil will help reduce the chances of developing this problem.

The other problem is with slugs.  These little creatures love to nibble on the young shoots of the hosta.  While there are many ways of getting rid of slugs, one of the easiest ways is to simply sprinkle sand around the hosta.  The coarseness of the sand will cut into the slug and in doing so will kill it.

Now that you have a general sense on how to plant and take care of a hosta, let’s look into the ways hostas are propagated.  Hostas can be grown from seed, and division.  Seed propagation is one that many gardeners do not try.  The germination rate of hosta seed is general low but it is fun to just try your hand at it.  To begin this process, one will need to clean your container with bleach water, rinse in clear water, and allow to dry.  Once that is done, fill your pot with a well draining potting soil mix that has bee premoistened.  The next step is to simply sprinkle the soil surface with the seeds and cover with 1/8 inch of soil.  Place in a shady location and keep the soil evenly moist.  If you do not want to plant the seeds in a container, consider broadcasting the seed in a prepared garden space that is in a shady location. 

Continue to monitor the soil moisture.  Once your seeds have germinated, continue to care for them in the pot or ground until they have at least 4 or 5 leaves.  After that happens, transplant the hostas into their own container.  Carry on with your hosta care until you are ready to plant in your garden space.

The other way of propagating hostas is through division.  This can occur in three different ways, which includes slicing, dividing, and stomping.  The slicing method is what it sounds like.  You simply take a shovel and slice into the hosta so that you come out with a pie shaped piece.  Once you do that, just replant the slice.  As far as the Mother plant goes, fill in the area where the slice came from with garden soil.

Dividing is very similar to slicing but instead of just lifting out a piece, you dig up the Mother plant.  While this process may sound easy, there is a science behind it.  First, your shovel will need to be sharp.  You will take your shovel and make a cut into the soil all the way around the hosta.  After that is done, gently push down on the handle of the shovel and lift out the Mother plant from the hole.  At this point, you can cut up the hosta to divide it.  Once you have your divisions, replant as usual.  Keep in mind though, this technique is the hardest on the Mother plant.

The last technique is called stomping and is the hardest for the gardener.  Yes, I said for the gardener.  This technique is done in the early spring when the hosta is first breaking ground.  What you will want to do is to go out and grind down the new shoots with your foot.  Why in the world would you want to do that?  Well, this process will cause the plant to produce more shoots, which means more plant material by which you can divide. 

While dividing of the hosta can be done anytime, it is best to do it in the summer.  The reason for this is the fact that the soil is warm, and the humidity is up, which will spur root development.  Having said that though, do not wait too long into the summer.  You will need to make sure that you have at least 30 days before your local frost date.  This will give your plant time to recover and establish itself before it needs to go dormant.


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When to Water

If you can, it is always best to water early in the morning. This allows the plant's leaves and flowers to dry off as the day warms up.

If you water at night, the plant stays wet for hours in the cool, which are prime conditions for fungi and other problems to set in.

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