Hey there, fellow gardeners! For years, I’ve been nurturing and expanding my collection of hosta varieties. Over this time, I’ve divided them multiple times and have gathered a wealth of experience in the process. In this article, I’ll share my method for dividing hostas.
You might wonder, “Why even bother dividing them?” It’s a valid question. Left undivided, hostas will naturally grow larger and appear more vibrant and lush. Yet, there are benefits to dividing them. For one, it’s a great way to multiply your plants. Plus, sometimes hostas can grow quite large, and dividing them can help manage their size, ensuring they fit comfortably in your garden space.
I’m going to provide a step-by-step guide on how to divide hostas, covering five fundamental steps. Along the way, I’ll also delve into other relevant aspects of this gardening task. Enjoy!
Water the hosta
The first step is to water the hosta if the soil is dry. The point is that dividing the hosta will weaken it greatly and to recover the hosta needs a lot of moisture.
If before the day when you decide to divide the hosta has not rained for several days, then be sure to check the soil. If the soil is dry, water the hosta with 1-2 gallons of water or more. Allow one day for the plant to soak up the water and only then divide.
One trick I often use here. Instead of watering the hosta with regular water I water it with water and liquid fertilizer. This greatly increases the growth rate of the divisions. Simply dilute the multipurpose liquid fertilizer in water as recommended by the manufacturer and pour it on the hosta that you are going to divide.
Dig up the hosta
The second step involves carefully excavating the hosta. It’s crucial to retain as many roots as possible during this process. The more roots you preserve, the better the chances for the new divisions to thrive.
Begin by positioning yourself about a foot away from the shoots before starting to dig. If you’re dealing with a larger hosta, you might need to give it even more space. Make sure you’re careful not to harm the top part of the hosta during this process.
Circle around the hosta’s crown with your shovel. Then, use the shovel as leverage to gently lift the hosta, bringing up the entire clump, complete with its roots and the surrounding soil.
For a clearer idea of the process, refer to the accompanying photo above.
Divide the hosta
The third step involves splitting the rhizome. But before diving into that, it’s a good idea to shake off the soil from the roots, ensuring you don’t harm them in the process.
While it’s an option to completely clean and wash the roots of soil, it’s not always necessary. I typically only go through this full cleaning process if I’m dealing with a dwarf hosta, where the divisions are going to be quite small.
When dividing the rhizome, you can split it into as many sections as you like, but ensure that each piece has at least three shoots. Generally speaking, the larger the divisions, the faster they’ll mature into full-sized plants.
Given this, I’d advise against overly fragmenting the rhizome. In my own practice, I usually split my hostas into a maximum of four sections.
Choose your preferred tool for the division. I personally favor a garden knife, but we’ll delve deeper into that in a later section. Whatever tool you pick, just make sure it’s sharp and clean.
Once you’ve made your divisions, place them in a shaded area and move on to the subsequent steps.
Prepare the planting hole
Step four: Prepare the planting hole. Your chosen spot for the hostas should be shaded, meaning it shouldn’t receive direct sunlight. Also, ensure the area has good drainage so water doesn’t pool.
For each hosta, dig a hole that’s deep enough to accommodate its roots. Space the holes at least 1-2 feet apart. Remember, larger varieties will need more room to flourish.
Enrich each hole by adding compost and mixing it with the native soil. This will give the young plants a boost as they grow.
If the soil feels dry, pour about a gallon of water into each hole. Wait for the water to be fully absorbed. Once that’s done, you’re ready to plant your divided hostas.
Plant the divisions
The fifth step involves planting the divided hosta in its new spot. Set the plant into the prepared hole and backfill with a blend of compost and the native soil.
Ensure that the point where the shoots connect to the rhizome is level with the ground. This means the hosta should sit at the same depth as it was prior to being divided.
Gently firm down the soil around the plant, adding more if needed. Be careful not to pack the soil too tightly to prevent harming the roots.
Water the newly planted hosta with about 1-2 gallons of water, ensuring the soil is just moistened. It’s essential to avoid drenching the soil; excessive moisture could cause the division to rot.
With that, you’ve successfully divided and replanted your hosta! There are additional measures you can take to ensure the health and growth of your plant, which I’ll discuss in the aftercare section.
What is the best time to divide hostas?
The optimal time to divide hostas is during the spring. I typically divide them when the shoots are just peeking through the soil and haven’t yet spread out into leaves. This gives the hostas ample time post-division to heal and grow before the year concludes.
On occasions when I’m pressed for time, I’ve divided hostas even after their leaves have fully opened, which tends to be in late spring. When doing so, I take extra caution to avoid damaging the stems and leaves.
I’ve also divided hostas in late summer or early fall on a few occasions. While it’s not my go-to time frame, it can be done.
However, what I steer clear of is dividing hostas during the peak of summer or in the midst of winter. These periods are simply not conducive to the process.
First and foremost, after planting the divisions, I’d advise shading them. This becomes particularly crucial if the leaves have fully unfurled or if the weather is sunny and warm. Just provide some temporary shading for a couple of weeks to ease the transition for the plant.
Watering is your next priority. While it’s essential to keep the soil around the hosta from drying out, you don’t want to drown it either. Regularly check the soil’s moisture levels, aiming to keep it consistently damp for the initial few months.
About a month post-division, nourish the hostas with a liquid fertilizer. This boost can be pivotal for their growth and well-being.
Lastly, be vigilant about monitoring the hosta’s health throughout its first year. After being divided, hostas can be more vulnerable to diseases and pests. At the first sign of any damage or distress, act promptly to address the issue.
As previously mentioned, you can use any tool that you find convenient for dividing hostas. Just ensure your tools are sharp and sanitized with antiseptic before use.
Here’s my go-to toolkit:
- A narrow-bladed shovel.
- A garden knife.
- Pruning shears.
- A garden saw.
That wraps up my guide. I hope you’ve gleaned some valuable insights from it. Wishing you all the best with your hostas and happy gardening!