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7 Tips to Prepare Hostas for the Winter

Winterizing hostas is one of the important topics of concern for a large number of gardeners, especially if they are initially on their way to learning about this beautiful plant.

To prepare your hosta for winter, water it in the fall when the soil is 2 inches dry. Cut back stems and leaves after the first frost and be sure to mulch the hosta.

Next, I’ll cover the basic steps to prepare hostas for winter. Also, check out the main article Tips For Keeping Your Hosta Thriving.

how to prepare hosta for the winter

Water in the fall when the soil is 2 inches dry

The first thing to recommend is to give the plant enough water. The fact is that when the plants fall into hibernation, the processes of life in them do not stop, but only very slowly.

For the plant to survive, it needs moisture. But since the soil freezes at this time, the plant uses internal moisture reserves.

From all the above, we can conclude that our task is to saturate the plant with as much moisture as possible. However, this does not mean that hostas need to be overwatered.

Starting in September, irrigate hostas often but not with a large amount of water. Do not allow the soil around the plants to dry completely. On sunny autumn days, give more water. On rainy days watering is not necessary at all. Continue watering until the first frost.

Prune the hosta after the first frost

Cut the leaves as they turn yellow. If the leaves turn yellow in late summer, then cut at this time. If the leaves keep until frost, then cut it after the first frost.

Experienced gardeners recommend pruning the hosta in early fall when the leaves are still green. The reason for this recommendation is that the nematodes are in the leaves at this time. If you cut the leaves and destroy them, you will be able to control the spread of nematodes in your garden.

Many questions arise when you do not know how to cut the leaves of the hosta. You may not know whether to cut the stems or not.

I recommend cutting the leaves along with the stems 0.5 inches above ground level. Try not to damage the rhizome.

After a while, the tips you left above ground level will dry out, and I recommend removing them too. Do it with your hands, do not use tools, just tear them away from the rhizomes.

Removal of dead tips is necessary to avoid the possibility of decay of the plant.

After you finish trimming, you need to collect all the leaves and throw them away. Some say that you can use it to make compost, but I recommend moving it as far away from your yard as possible.

The fact is that the leaves collect bacteria that affect the hosta. So, even the compost from the leaves will contain these bacteria, and it can damage your plants in the next season.

Avoid fertilizing the hosta

Many people claim that fertilizing in the fall is useful for hostas. Feeding hostas at the end of the season can stimulate new growth. If there is no early frost, then things can go well. However, if the frost hits early, the young leaves will surely die.

It is not necessary that the hosta will grow after feeding, but if this happens, you increase the risk of losing the plant.

It is necessary to give feeding to hostas no later than mid-summer. An exception may be the situation when you separate them in the early fall.

In this case, it is possible to give a small amount of fertilizer for the plants to take root in a new place faster.

Cover hosta with mulch

During its growth, the hosta rises a little on the ground, and this can cause the rhizome to be damaged during the winter. As I wrote above, it is not necessary to cover the hosta because it can get sick.

You should protect the plant; for that, it is better to mulch it. That is, you need to pour a layer of mulch 2 inches above the rhizome of large hosta varieties and 1 inch above dwarf varieties.

As a mulch, I recommend using compost, and it will protect perfectly from adverse winter weather conditions.

However, you can also use tree bark. This mulch also protects the plants well. It is better to use the bark of conifers, such as pine trees. The advantage of coniferous bark is that it decays very slowly and slightly acidifies the soil, which also has a positive effect on hostas.

Clean the plant

The next thing you have to do is clean everything around the plant. Many weeds can grow near the hosta during the year. Moss loves to grow in the shade; many fallen leaves from the trees also gather around hosta bushes. All this garbage should be collected and thrown away.

While this may seem like a simple step, do not underestimate its importance. The fact is that dead vegetation is an excellent environment for the development of various problems.

First of all, under the layer of dry leaves, like to hide a lot of pests, it is an ideal environment for them. During times when the temperature is favorable in winter, these pests are sure to take the opportunity to eat your plants.

The second is fungal diseases. Decaying vegetation is a great contributor to the increase in the number of pathogenic bacteria. There are some types of fungi that can develop under the snow, so cleaning the hosta before winter is mandatory.

I should also mention the nematode. These creatures also spread in dead vegetation and can affect plants. This is one of the greatest threats to plants.

Protect the plants

The next thing I always do is spray hostas with protection products. The first thing you should spray is a fungicide, and it will avoid the development of bacteria. 

The second thing I spray on plants in the fall is an insecticide. In the warm winter, some insects can damage hostas. This remedy will make the hosta rhizome not edible for pests.

I know that there are many proponents of organic plant growing who believe that the use of chemicals is terrible. Everyone may have different views, so you have to decide whether to protect the plants for the winter or not.

Also, if you do not spray the plants, this does not necessarily mean that they will be harmed by disease and pests in winter.

Don’t give water to the hosta in winter

There is no need to water the hosta at all during the winter. This plant is able to store enough water and can survive the winter without watering.

Even if the winter is dry, the hosta can survive two to three months without moisture if it is dormant. But in most cases, the winter is wet enough.

If you water a hosta during the winter, a lot of water will accumulate around the roots. During hard frosts, the water will freeze and damage the crown of the hosta.

During a thaw, the water will penetrate into the damaged parts of the crown and rot will occur. It will be very difficult to save such a plant.