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Planting Hostas In Pots – Tips For Growing Hostas In Containers

For a true plant lover, there is always not enough space in the garden for his plant collection. As a result, the plants migrate to new places, such as a patio or terrace. Usually, in such places, plants can only grow in pots. Therefore, many fans of hostas have a question: can hostas grow in pots?

Hostas can grow in pots, and this requires a pot of appropriate size and soil that retains moisture better. The plants will also need additional fertilization and more frequent watering.

Soil should be nutritious and moist.

The soil for pot cultivation will be different from that used for growing hostas in the garden. First of all, it must retain moisture well so that you do not have to water too often. Also, the soil should be nutritious because, in the limited space of the pot, the hostas will be less able to extract the necessary trace elements from the environment.

There are two ways to achieve the above goal. The first is to buy potting soil. This is a good solution; the advantages of this substrate are that it is sterile and does not contain diseases and pests. The second advantage is that it is quite loose and nutritious.

Now let’s talk about its shortcomings; the first is that it dries quickly enough. Usually, such soils are made on the basis of peat, and peat, although able to retain a lot of moisture, still dries quickly. As a result, you will have to water the hostas too often.

Another disadvantage is that such soil quickly loses its structure, and you have to change it every year or every two years.

The second way is to create your own soil mix. As components, I recommend using compost and garden soil (clay soil).

Compost will be the basis of the mix. You should use good clean compost prepared by the right technology because improperly created compost (without access to oxygen) will contain aggressive substances that can harm plants. Buy good quality compost from reliable producers, read reviews about it in advance.

The second component is clay soil. This will allow your mix to retain moisture better, so watering will not be so frequent.

Take three-quarters of the compost and mix with a quarter of the clay soil, this will be the best soil mix for hostas in pots. Compost will make the soil mix lose and nutritious, and the clay soil will retain moisture longer.

Plant them correctly.

You need to give the hostas enough size to grow. I recommend planting them in pots no smaller than their current width (the width to which the leaves have spread). The width of the rhizome will be less (about twice).

Such size will be enough for the plant to grow for several years once the rhizome has almost grown to the size of a pot you need to transplant the plant into a larger container.

Below I give a table of the maximum sizes of pots that will need hostas in maturity. Of course, they can be grown in smaller containers, but then they will grow more slowly and will be smaller.

Size of Hosta Pots width Pots height
Miniature (Blue Mouse Ears, Praying Hands) 10 inches (25 cm) 12 inches (0.3 m)
Dwarf (White Feather, Fire Island, Autumn Frost) 18 inches (0.45 m) 20 inches (0.5 m)
Medium (Halcyon, June, First Frost, Stained Glass, Golden Tiara) 38 inches (0.95 m) 40 inches (1 m)
Large (Frances Williams, Francee, Sum and Substance) 50 inches (1.25 m) 60 inches (1.5 m)
Giant (Empress Wu) 70 inches (1.75 m) 80 inches (2 m)

The table shows that large and giant hostas are difficult to grow in pots. They need huge containers, and it will be difficult to deal with them alone.

There should also be drainage holes in the pots. Three holes are enough, and excess water will drain without problems.

If you use pots with a lot of drainage holes, then water will flow out too quickly. Another problem, in this case, is that the soil will be washed out of the pots, and you will have to renew it often.

Both plastic and clay pots are suitable for planting. Clay pots are more beautiful, but in severe frosts, they can crack. Plastic is less decorative but more resistant to frost and cheaper.

When to plant?

The time of planting in pots will be different from the time of planting hostas in the garden. The best time in the garden is two periods, spring and autumn. However, it is better to plant in pots in the spring at the beginning of the season.

This recommendation is due to the fact that the plants should take root well and heal wounds before severe climatic conditions (summer heat or frost). In the case of planting hostas in the garden, even if they do not take root before winter, they still overwinter because the roots will be covered with earth. In the case of potted hostas, things are a little different.

If you plant a hosta in a pot in early spring when the plants wake up from the winter, it will take root and form a normal root system. In this case, the plant will be easier to survive the hot summer and winter.

I do not recommend planting hostas in pots in summer or autumn, because the plant will be difficult in such conditions. However, if you do, then try to give the plant maximum shade and humidity. You can spray the leaf with water from time to time.

How to plant?

The planting process is quite simple, although there are subtleties.

First of all, you should not pour stones or expanded clay on the bottom of the pot for drainage. Some people recommend doing it, but it’s unnecessary. Overwater hosta in a pot is quite difficult; on the contrary, drainage can dry out the soil too quickly. Therefore, no drainage is required; 3-4 drainage holes are enough.

Arrange the plant so that the crown is slightly below the level of the edge of the pot (half an inch). Straighten all the roots evenly over the container. Fill all the free space with the prepared soil mix and lightly compact. Do not fill the soil above the level where the stems connect with the rhizome. If you cover the stems with soil, it can lead to rot of the crown.

Water the plant with a little water. When the water comes down, add more soil if necessary because usually after the first watering, the soil settles. Then pour more water again.

Place the hosta in full shade, even if you have planted a variety that can grow in partial sun. Let the first 1-2 months the hosta takes root in the shade. Then you can expose it to a sunnier place.

Feed hostas once a year.

Due to the limited space of the pot, the hosta can not get enough nutrients from the soil, so you must provide it with this.

What to feed?

As I wrote above, the best soil will be a compost-based mix. Good compost will be a great fertilizer for your plants. However, something needs to be clarified here.

First, the compost must be done correctly. Nutritious compost should be made from shredded young branches. These branches must be free from diseases and pests.

Next, the raw material must decompose properly. During decomposition on all depth of raw materials, there should be access to air then compost will turn out good. Otherwise, acids are formed there, which will make the environment unsuitable for plants.

To avoid a negative result, buy a good quality product from reputable sellers.

The second thing you need to feed your plants is slow-release fertilizers. They are usually produced in granules and have a standard NPK formula. In the case of hostas, you can use a fertilizer that has more nitrogen, that’s what they need.

Pour into each pot as much fertilizer as indicated on the label, and that’s it, you don’t need to do anything else.

Do not overfeed the hostas, as this will cause overgrowth and lead to brittle stems and reduced immunity.

When can you feed?

The best time for fertilizing will be immediately after planting. The plant will receive the necessary substances for better rooting.

In the future, feed the hosta once a year at the beginning of the season (spring). That will be enough.

Feeding in summer or autumn is not recommended, because it can cause vigorous growth of new leaves and hostas. As a result, the plant will be depleted by winter, and it will be difficult to survive.

Water hostas twice per week.

Hostas in pots will have to be watered more often than in the garden. In the summer heat, the soil in the container can dry out in one day, and the plants will not be comfortable.

Depending on the size of the plant, watering will be different.

Large varieties need to be watered once or twice a week if there is no rain, and they are placed in the shade. The amount of water should be sufficient, and you need to soak the whole soil in a pot. Two gallons of water should suffice.

For small and medium varieties growing in the same conditions (full shade), watering will be required once or twice a week with one gallon of water.

Size of Hosta Full Shade Partial Sun
Dwarf, Medium 1-2 per week 1 gallon 2 per week 1 gallon
Large 2 per week 2 gallons 3 per week 2 gallons

In the partial sun, large hostas need watering every two days with three gallons of water. If the weather is too hot, then you have to water every day.

For small and medium hostas, watering also should be increased. If you grow them in the sun, then watering will be needed three times a week.

In case a little rain has passed, but the pots are not completely wet, you need to water the hostas. As well, if you are not sure whether the hostas need watering, check the soil moisture with your fingers or a stick if the soil began to dry out, water the plants with plenty of water.

It is difficult to overwater hostas in pots. Excess water will spill over the edge or drain through drainage holes. However, try not to exceed the recommendations of this chapter.

If you did not have the opportunity to water in time, the hostas might begin to wither. This is not critical at first; if you water them the next day, then everything will be ok. However, you do not need to postpone watering because the leaves may dry out, and the plant will take a long time to recover.

Mulch them

Mulching hostas has many benefits. When growing plants in pots, its benefits are even more significant.

Mulch prevents the top layer of soil from drying out quickly, and this is very important for potted hostas. In this case, the risk of overdrying the plants is reduced.

The heat in the pots is better retained in the presence of the top layer of mulch. This will help to better withstand low temperatures. Also, in the summer, excess heat will be reflected by mulch.

Thanks to mulch weeds will grow less. Weeds are another serious problem. If the weed is well-rooted in the pot, then it will be difficult to remove it. You will have to pull the hosta out of the pot and untwist the roots. This can be avoided with mulch.

There are four best materials for mulching hostas:

  • Compost
  • Pine needle
  • Pine bark
  • Shredded hardwood bark

They are all good in their own way. Someone has more advantages than others, but in any case, if you use any of these materials, you will win.

The thickness of the mulch layer should not exceed 1 inch (in the case of pine needles no more than 2-3 inches). There should also be a gap of at least 0.5 inches between the stems and mulch.

If you cover the base of the stems with mulch, then there will be constant moisture, and this can lead to a disease called Petiole rot.

Overwintering hostas in containers

Despite the fact that the hosta is a frost-resistant plant, many gardeners have a question on how to winterize hostas in containers?

In general, wintering hostas in pots is almost no different from wintering in the garden. Most varieties can overwinter in pots in Hardiness zones 5-8 without problems. The exception will be Hardiness zones 3-4, so let’s talk about it.

According to many gardeners, the hostas overwintered in pots in Hardiness zone 3 for many years, but one year there were very severe frosts, and as a result, many plants died.

Miniature varieties are also more vulnerable to frost. You may have problems wintering them in containers if you live in Hardiness zones 3-4. Especially dangerous if there are severe frost and no snow.

How to protect them?

If you live in the northern United States and want to grow hostas in pots, then you should take care to protect them for the winter.

The first thing you can do is plant hostas in pots in the ground. This is a fairly common practice, this will protect the roots from the frosty wind, and as a result, the plants will survive the winter more comfortably.

Just bury the pot in the ground almost to its full height. Only the top edge of the pot should remain on the surface. Do not pour earth on top. Instead of soil, pour a thin layer of mulch (up to 1 inch) on top of the buried pot. In the spring, the mulch should be removed.

The second thing you can do is cover the hostas with a covering material. There are many quality fabrics on the market that are designed to cover the plant for the winter. Choose the best one and cover the pots with one or two layers of this fabric. Such a shelter will retain the heat given off by the earth, and the conditions will be more favorable.

Another thing you can do is move the containers to a cold room. It can be a garage or a basement or an outdoor storage shed. This room should not be heated, because the hostas need a low temperature to remain dormant.

Indoors, severe frosts and winds will not be able to harm the plant. In the spring, the pots need to be taken outside.

Slugs can damage hostas in pots.

No matter where your hostas grow, they can still be eaten by snails. For these pests, it will be a little harder to climb into the pot, but overall this is not a problem for them. Therefore, you should take care of protection.

Unfortunately, there is no 100% effective remedy that can protect plants. As always, a systematic approach with a set of diverse measures is needed.

The first thing to do is to clean the garden from the remains of plants in which snails like to hide. Also, throw away all unnecessary things that lie in your yard, under them live, and breed these mollusks.

Next, you need to lubricate the outer edge of the pots with Vaseline around the perimeter (or around the circumference if the pots are round). The line should be about half an inch wide. It should be done one inch below the top edge of the pot on the outside.

Generously powder the vaseline line with salt so that the salt sticks well to the Vaseline. No snail will cross such a border. The line needs to be renewed from time to time.

And the last thing you need to do is put a small number of iron phosphate pellets near each pot. This is a very effective method against snails.

All this will help keep your hostas intact throughout the season.

Dividing potted hostas

Potted hostas should be divided in the spring when the plants have woken up from hibernation, and new “teeth” (young shoots) have appeared, but the leaf has not yet opened. It is not recommended to separate later because, in pots, it will be more difficult for plants to heal wounds.

Divide the rhizome when it has at least 6-7 “teeth.” In this case, it can be divided into no more than two parts. The younger plant should not be divided because it still does not have enough strength.

Before dividing, water the plant several times to soak it with water, it is better to start work in the morning on a cloudy day.

Remove the hosta from the pot, then remove all dirt from the roots. Rinse everything from the roots with a stream of water.

Use a sharp and sterile knife to cut the rhizome into pieces. Each part must have at least 3 “teeth.”

Try to cut at the border where the teeth meet. Each piece must have at least a few roots. The more roots left, the better the young plants will grow.

Soak the wounds in an aqueous solution of a fungicide that is labeled against rot. Sprinkle the wounds with crushed ashes.

Place the new plants in separate pots and cover them with soil. Do not bury the shoots in the ground.

Water the plants with a little water. From time to time, moisten the soil in pots.

After a few days, water with liquid fertilizer, it will add energy to the young hostas.

Pots should be in full shade for the first two months.

Repotting hostas

Potted hostas should be transplanted in the spring. By winter, the plant forms new roots and easily overwinters.

Water the hosta a few times before transplanting.

Choose a new pot twice the size of the one in which the plant grew before. This is because you don’t have to transplant them too often.

Use the same soil I recommended above.

Remove the plant from the pot, try not to damage the roots, and do not shake the ground out of them.

Pour into a new pot of soil and place a hosta there, fill all the free space with soil. Do not pour soil on top of the crown.

Water the plant with a little water, let the water drain. Then add more soil and water again.

Apply some fertilizer under the plant.

Place the pot in full shade for 2-3 weeks.

How to look after planting?

We have already talked about how to take care of potted hostas. However, some topics have not yet been addressed, so let’s do this in this chapter.

The first thing to talk about is diseases. They can affect hostas, even in pots, so you should take care of it.

Briefly, the disease can be divided into three groups:

  • Fungi and bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Nematodes

To avoid fungal and bacterial infections, always keep pots and everything around clean from plant debris. Use only sterile tools. Do not place pots too close; give the plants space.

Several times a year, spray the hostas with various fungicides against common diseases.

Unfortunately, it is useless to fight against viruses, so at the first signs of the virus, you need to remove the plant from the garden.

If your hostas are affected by nematodes, then you should cut the stems and leaves in late summer without waiting for it to turn yellow. These leaves should be taken away from the yard.

The second thing to say is pests. You have already read about snails above. Other pests can be divided into two groups:

  • Insects
  • Rodents

Usage of Neem oil and systemic pesticides will be most effective against insects. I recommend using these remedies for prevention.

With rodents and deer, everything is more difficult. If they bother you seriously, then it is best to make a fence around the garden or the whole yard. The second thing to do is to use repellents regularly.

People also ask

How to grow miniature hostas in containers?

Miniature hostas in pots are grown in the same way as others. Only if you live in the north, then you should shelter them for the winter.

Growing giant hostas in containers are different?

It is difficult to grow large hostas in pots. This will require big containers and frequent watering.

How to grow hostas in window boxes?

For growing hostas on window boxes, you need to use large enough pots, water the plants often and place them only on the north side of the house.