Hostas are quite vigorous plants and grow well on their own. However, if you have poor soil in your yard or want to help your hostas a little, then it makes sense to use nutrients.
The best kind of fertilizer for hostas is NPK 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer. These products are made as pellets and will feed your hosta for 90 days or more.
NPK means the fertilizer contains nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and potassium. The number 10-10-10 is the ratio of these nutrients in the fertilizer. However, other ratios can also be used.
For example, a ratio of 15-9-12 also works well for hostas. The main thing is that the amount of nitrogen should not be too high.
In addition, such products are usually complex, i.e., they contain other ingredients that the plants need. Make sure that the fertilizer has iron, magnesium, and zinc in it. The amounts of these elements may not be high, but they must be present.
In the following, we will look at all aspects of hosta fertilization. You will also find out what other types of fertilizer can be used.
When should I fertilize hostas?
The best time to fertilize your hosta is early spring. This applies to all types of fertilizer. By fertilizing in the spring you can expect vigorous growth for the whole growing season.
If we are talking about a slow-release fertilizer, it should only be applied in the spring. One application will be enough for the whole growing season. Avoid applying this type of fertilizer in the second half of the year or twice a season.
In the case of liquid fertilizer, it can be applied any time the hosta is active. But it is best to apply liquid fertilizer in the summer after the hosta has flowered. Avoid applying this fertilizer in late autumn.
As for organic fertilizer, you can also apply it whenever you want except in winter. It is best to mulch the hosta with organic fertilizer after it has shed its leaves in the fall.
How to feed?
Before fertilizing, lightly loosen the soil around the hosta. Do this about 1 foot away from the leaf petioles. Be careful not to damage the roots or other parts of the plant.
Next, spread one portion of slow-release pellets evenly around the hosta. Spread a layer of soil half an inch thick on top of the pellets. This is so that the rain will not wash the pellets away and they will always remain in the root zone.
As for the amount of fertilizer, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on the label. But usually, 1.5 ounces is enough for a medium-sized hosta. For larger hostas, use 2-3 ounces.
Avoid over-fertilizing the hosta and putting the granules right on the roots. If there is too much fertilizer, it can burn the roots and cause the leaves to turn brown.
It is also a good idea to check the soil pH. This is to make sure that your soil is not too alkaline. In alkaline soil, the hosta will not be able to take your fertilizer.
Use a soil pH test kit designed for this purpose. You can easily find one on the market. If the soil pH is much more than 7.0 then acidify it with aluminum sulfate or garden sulfur. Fertilize only after the soil is neutral or slightly acidic.
Liquid fertilizer for hostas
The second type of fertilizer you can use for your hostas is liquid fertilizer. This product has a very short life span but the effect is noticeable immediately.
Liquid fertilizer is best used in the summer after the hosta has bloomed. This will give the plant some energy to grow more vigorously. In fact, flowering and seed ripening is quite an energy-consuming process.
Water the hosta once after the flowers have faded and that’s it. One watering in the middle of the season is enough. Avoid using this product later than mid-fall.
Another time to use liquid fertilizer is when the hosta is damaged. This can be sunburn, mechanical damage, disease or pests. Fertilizing your hosta at this time will speed up the recovery process a bit.
Add half as much fertilizer to the solution as the label recommends. It is better if the solution is lighter because liquid fertilizer is very easy to damage the root system. It is easier for the solution to penetrate the roots than for the granules, and if it is too concentrated, the roots can be burned.
Read more: Do hostas like Miracle-Gro?
Organic hosta fertilizer
Natural fertilizer is also a great solution to improve the growth of your hostas. Organic materials can noticeably improve the soil and be a source of nutrition for plants.
The best organic fertilizer is compost. The most important thing here is that you choose the right supplier. The compost should be free of pathogens and pests.
Introduce organic fertilizer when planting your hosta. Just put some compost in the planting hole and mix it with the soil.
You can also mulch your hostas with compost in the fall or spring. This will also give a boost to your hostas.
Every time you transplant or divide your hostas, use compost for planting. This will result in vigorous and healthy plants.
Homemade fertilizer for hostas
You can also make your own organic fertilizer for your hostas. However, it is best to start if you have such experience because improperly prepared compost can do more harm than good.
In short, use shredded young tree branches for composting. You can also use shredded bark.
Avoid composting from old leaves or branches of old trees. These materials can contain disease pathogens. Also, do not put kitchen scraps in the compost.
Composting should be done with free access of air to all layers of compost. The decomposition time of the raw materials is about 2 years.
Another organic material for fertilizing hostas can be eggshells. This material contains a lot of calcium that helps the plant produce harder leaves and leaf petioles.
However, eggshells will not decompose on their own in the soil. Unless the soil is very acidic.
To improve this you need to grind the eggshells to powder. In this form, it will be available to the plant and will bring a lot of benefits.
Read more: Does Epsom Salt help hostas grow?