Hosta is a delightful plant that is primarily prized for its beautiful leaves. Leopold Trattinnick first found this plant in Asia and named it in honor of another botanist, Nicolaus Thomas Host. It is also sometimes called plantain lilies.
Over many years of cultivation, plant breeders have given the world a huge number of different varieties. Now you can find dwarf hostas up to 4 inches across and giant ones over 7 feet wide. In this article, you will find all the information you need to successfully cultivate this plant.
Hosta care tips
- Provide full shade for the hosta
- Water when the soil is 1.5 to 2 inches dry
- Plant it in a light and draining soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0
- Fertilize the hosta with a slow-release multipurpose fertilizer once a year
- Protect the hosta from slugs by using iron phosphate
- Use repellent to protect it from deer
- Remove dead foliage at the end of the season
- Mulch your hosta with organic matter 1-2 inches thick
|Care/requirements||Hosta, Plantain Lilies, Funkia|
|Hardiness:||USDA zone 3-9|
|Size:||Height 4 ft and width 4 ft|
|Shape:||Low rounded bush|
|Light requirements:||Full shade|
|Soil:||Loam or amended soil|
|Soil pH:||6.0-7.0 Grow best in neutral soil.|
|Watering:||1-2 times per week in drought. Don’t water in the winter.|
|Growth rate:||Slow to fast|
|Blooming:||Late spring, summer|
|Leaves color:||Green, blue, white, yellow|
|Pots:||Needs a large pot and frequent watering.|
|Best time for planting:||Early spring and early fall|
|Spacing:||4-6 feet apart (center to center)|
|Transplanting:||Early fall or early spring|
|Fertilizer:||Balanced NPK formula, once per year.|
|Propagation:||By dividing in spring.|
|Pests:||Nematodes, Snails, Deer, Rodents, Insects|
|Diseases:||Anthracnose, Petiole rot, HVX|
The best time to plant a hosta is spring. Once the ground has thawed and the sun begins to warm up the environment it is time to plant. By planting in the spring you can be sure that the hosta will take root and overwinter well.
The second favorable period is early fall before the plant loses its leaves. At this time of year, it is best to plant large shrubs with strong roots. Small hostas with undeveloped root systems are best left for the following spring.
Avoid planting in hot and dry summers. Also do not plant in winter. Otherwise, the plant may stunt or even die.
Morning or evening is the most suitable time of day for planting because the sun is usually not shining very much at this time.
It is also better to choose an overcast day the day before with little rain. If it has not rained, water the hosta for 1-2 days before planting.
Where to plant?
The best place to plant a hosta is full shade in the garden. There are many different varieties that can grow even in direct sunlight, but the universal rule is to plant the hosta in the shade.
Planting in the dappled sun is also possible, in which case most varieties will grow well. Only blue hostas can suffer from too much sun. To achieve such lighting, you can plant the hosta under trees.
The north side of any building is good for planting. The leaves will receive reflected light, which is best. Anything in the yard that can provide protection from the sun is a good place to plant it.
Avoid planting the hosta where water stagnates or there are streams of water. For example, you should not place the bush close to a rainwater gutter. Otherwise, the crown may begin to rot, resulting in the loss of the plant.
How to plant?
The planting hole must be at least twice the size of the root ball for the hosta to take root. Fill the bottom of the hole with a mixture of native soil and compost in a one-to-one ratio.
Place the roots in the hole with the stems up. Don’t deepen the rhizome too much into the ground. The place where the leaf petioles join the roots should be level with the surface of the garden.
Backfill any empty space around the roots with the prepared potting soil. Lightly press the soil around the roots, but don’t overdo it to avoid damaging the plant.
Water the hosta with 1 to 3 gallons of water, depending on the size of the shrub. When the water drains off, add more soil if there are voids.
Next, you will need to mulch the surface. Mulch is very useful because it prevents the soil from drying out. Use compost or pine bark as mulching material. It should not be more than 2 to 3 inches thick and do not put mulch close to the stems.
The distance between the shrub and other plants should be at least 1 foot. For larger hostas, this distance can be increased to 4 feet or more.
Read more: How Far Apart to Plant Hostas?
The best soil for a hosta is improved native soil with compost or peat. Before planting, mix a few buckets of your garden soil with the compost and plant the hosta in this soil mix.
If your soil is clay or sandy, adding compost will only make it better. Compost or peat will make clay soil lighter and more nutritious. On the other hand, adding organic matter to sandy soil will make it a little wetter, which is what you need.
Use only quality compost from a reliable manufacturer. Otherwise, you may infest the hosta with disease or nematodes.
The best soil pH is 6.0-7.0, which means it should be neutral or slightly acidic. Most soils are in this range. If it is too acidic or too alkaline, it can cause leaf problems.
A hosta needs to be watered when the soil around it is 1 inch dry. The watering frequency will vary at different times of the year. In summer, the soil dries out very quickly so you may need to water 2-3 times a week.
Avoid adhering to a strict watering schedule as this can cause the hosta to become dehydrated or overwatered.
As soon as you notice that the topsoil has dried out a bit, water the hosta immediately. Use a drip hose for this. Just turn it on for a few minutes and let the soil soak in. Usually, 1-2 gallons of water is enough for one plant.
The hosta has large leaves that evaporate moisture very quickly so you need to keep an eye on the moisture content of the soil.
On the other hand, you don’t want to water it too often or with too much water. Otherwise, the hosta can get root rot. Also, avoid watering in rainy weather and in winter.
Read more: How Often To Water Hostas?
The best fertilizer for the hosta is a slow-release pellet fertilizer. When it comes to ingredients, it is best to choose one with more nitrogen, because it is nitrogen that produces large green leaves.
For example, the N-P-K formula 15-9-12 is good for growing hostas. This means that the product contains more nitrogen, less phosphorus, and a little more potassium. Also make sure that the fertilizer contains iron and magnesium, as these elements are essential for photosynthesis.
The best time to apply the fertilizer is in spring. Use pellets with the longest release time (6-8 months). If you follow these recommendations, the hosta will be well supplied for the entire growing season.
But if you want your hosta to grow bigger, use organic fertilizer as well. Spread compost around the plant and mix it into the soil. Or just mulch the soil around it with the compost. This will provide even more nutrients for the hosta.
Read more: How to Make Hostas Grow Bigger?
The best way to propagate a hosta is by dividing. Wait until the bush has grown to at least 1 foot wide and then start dividing.
The best time to propagate is in the spring because over the following months the wounds will not only overgrow but the plant will root well and even produce new leaves. Choose a sunless and humid day.
Dig up the rhizome and clean off the dirt. Use a knife or saw to cut it into as many pieces as needed, but each piece should have at least 3 buds.
Spray the wounds with fungicide or powder them with crushed ash. Plant all the pieces in the new location without delay, don’t let the plant lose too much moisture.
Don’t water the pieces for 1 to 2 days, then water in moderation.
Read more: How To Divide Hostas?
One of the most common hosta diseases is anthracnose. Symptoms are brown spots on the leaves caused by various pathogens.
To avoid the disease, water the hosta in moderation and ensure good air exchange around the bush. If spots appear, spray the leaves with copper fungicide. Repeat the spraying after 1 to 2 weeks.
A second disease is Petiole rot. In this case, leaf petioles turn brown at the base and break off. This is also a fungal disease that can seriously damage the hosta.
To avoid it, do not overwater the hosta and do not mulch the stems. If the disease is present, remove the damaged parts of the plant and spray the wounds with an aqueous solution of a multi-purpose fungicide.
Read more: 6 Most Common Hosta Diseases With Images.
The most common pest of hostas is slugs. These creatures like young leaves but can also seriously damage mature leaves. Sometimes they are so widespread that the hosta can’t even grow properly.
Controlling slugs is quite difficult because picking them up by hand or using eggshells has little effect. A more effective way is to use traps but iron phosphate works best.
The second pest is deer. They can eat a hosta to the ground. The plant will regenerate after a while, but it’s best to keep the deer away from your garden.
In addition, various insects can also seriously harm your hosta.
Read more: What Is Eating My Hostas?
Hosta is a very hardy plant and can tolerate quite strong frosts. The only problem may arise if the winter is frosty but there is no snow. In this case, the buds can freeze a little, and when the ground thaws, the crown can begin to rot.
To avoid this, mulch the hosta over the dormant buds with compost or pine bark. The layer of mulch should be at least 2 to 3 inches. This will prevent frosty winds from affecting the crown and trapping heat from the ground.
It is also good practice to water your hosta in the fall. This will allow the plant to accumulate enough moisture to overwinter comfortably.
You should also avoid fertilizing your hosta in the fall. Otherwise, new shoots may begin to grow and die during the winter.
Read more: Will Frost Hurt Hostas?
Growing in containers
Hosta can be grown in a container, but there are a few rules which must be followed.
First, the container must be only slightly larger than the root ball of the hosta. If there is too much moist soil around the roots, they can rot. Also, the pot should have at least 4-5 drainage holes.
Secondly, place the pot with hosta in a sheltered location for the winter. There should not be any drafts and excess moisture, do not take it indoors. If the winter is snowless, cover the entire top of the pot with mulch.
Repot the hosta every year in a slightly larger pot. The new pot should be no more than 1 to 2 inches wider than the previous pot.
In the heat of the summer, keep a close eye on the soil and don’t let it dry out more than 0.5 to 1 inch.
Read more: How To Grow Hostas In Pots?
The best time to transplant a hosta is March or April. At this time, the ground is already warm enough, but the sun is not too strong and there will be enough time for the hosta to take root in its new location before the summer heat.
Dig up the roots gently and water the plant beforehand. Avoid damaging any part of the plant. Use a wheelbarrow to move the hosta to its new location.
Dig a hole larger than the plant’s root system. Carefully put the roots in the hole and fill all the empty space with soil. Then water the bush with 1 to 3 gallons of water.
Read more: How To Transplant Hostas?