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How To Transplant Hostas?

Hostas are wonderful plants that can grow almost anywhere. However, over time they grow larger and need more space

To transplant a hosta, dig it out gently with a shovel, damaging a minimum number of roots. Then move it quickly to a new location and place it in a planting hole that is twice the size of the root ball. Fill all the free space in the hole with loose and nutritious substrate and water the hosta well.

That was a short description of how to transplant a hosta. You will learn more about it in the following chapters. Also, be sure to read the main article Complete Guide to Hostas.

When is the best time to transplant hostas?

The best time to transplant a hosta is spring. You need to catch the moment when the weather is already warm and the eyes of the hosta have begun to rise 1-2 inches above the ground, but no more.

Depending on the climate in which you live, this could be March or April. If you transplant at this time, the hosta will get minimal stress and will quickly take root in its new location.

May is usually a little late for transplanting. This is because the leaves are already unfolded by this time and you can damage them during transplanting. But if you haven’t had time to transplant sooner, you can do it in late spring as well.

Season Recommendations
Spring best time
Summer not recommended but possible
Fall best time
Winter not recommended

Another favorable period to move a hosta is in the fall. This is when the weather is milder and the ground is warm after summer. Hosta establishment in the fall is excellent.

However, you should transplant it no later than September. This is so that the hosta can take root before the first frost. Otherwise, it could be negatively affected.

As for the weather, you need to transplant in cloudy weather with rain on the eve. Avoid moving hostas on sunny, hot days. If the soil around the hosta is dry, water it the day before transplanting.

How to dig up hostas?

To properly dig up a hosta for transplanting, step back at least one foot from the petioles. For larger hostas, set back two or more feet. This is to avoid damaging the root system.

Use a sharp shovel with a long blade. It should cut through the ground easily.

Dig in a circle around the hosta. The shovel should be turned with the flat side toward the bush. When you have made the circle, stick the shovel in one side of the bush as deep as possible. Next, lift the hosta using the shovel as a lever.

Gently pull the root ball out of the hole and place it on a wheelbarrow. Move the hosta to a new planting location as quickly as possible.

When digging and transporting, be careful not to damage the roots or shake the soil off the roots. The more intact the root ball remains, the easier the hosta will handle the transplant.

Where should I transplant my hosta?

The best place to transplant a hosta is full shade. Hostas are shade-loving plants and do fine without direct sunlight. Reflected sunlight or dappled shade is the best lighting for the hosta.

However, if the hosta gets 2-4 hours of direct sun in the morning, it will be fine. Some varieties may get a little more direct sun than others. Blue hostas are the worst at tolerating direct sunlight.

What you don’t want to do is transplant the hosta into full sun. If you do, it will just burn out. The leaves will turn brown and look terrible.

There should be no stagnation or water accumulation in the new location. Avoid planting the hosta where rainwater runs off the roof or too close to a pond.

If you decide to move the hosta under a tree, don’t plant it too close to the trunk. There should be at least 1 to 2 feet of distance between the hosta and the trunk of the tree. Otherwise, the tree roots will inhibit the development of the hosta.

How do I place a hosta in a new location?

To properly place a transplanted hosta in its new location, dig a hole twice the size of the hosta’s root ball. This planting location should be at least 1 to 2 feet away from other hostas or plants.

Pour half a bucket of compost or soil conditioner into the hole. Mix the compost with the native soil. Add the same amount of compost to the soil you took out of the hole and mix as well.

Place the hosta in the hole so the place where the roots connect to the leaf petioles should be at ground level. If necessary, fill the bottom of the hole with a bit of soil mix.

Fill all the free space in the hole and compact the soil a little. Fill in some more soil so that the ground near the hosta is level. Avoid covering the petioles with soil.

How do I water a transplanted hosta?

Immediately after transplanting, water the hosta well. Use about 1 gallon of water for medium-sized hostas and 2 to 3 gallons for larger ones. The soil around the roots should be well saturated with water.

For the next 1-2 months after transplanting, water the hostas as soon as the soil around them is more than an inch dry. The hosta should not be thirsty during rooting.

When you see the hosta starting to grow, i.e., new leaves appearing, you can reduce the watering. Water when the soil is more than 2 inches dry.

To reduce the rate at which the soil dries out and prevent the root system from overheating, mulch the hosta. Use organic matter such as compost or pine bark nuggets as mulch.

The layer of mulch material should be about 2 inches thick. Avoid volcano mulching, which means do not put mulch on the leaf petioles.

Should hostas be cut back before transplanting?

You should not cut back your hostas before transplanting. Pruning will cause additional stress which can have a negative effect on growth.

Leaves provide the hosta with energy. It needs this energy to get established more quickly in its new location. For this reason, transplant hostas with leaves.

However, the leaves can be damaged during transplanting. If this happens to your hosta, it’s no big deal. Simply trim off the damaged leaves.

To avoid damage, transplant the hosta in spring as soon as it comes out of hibernation. Also, read an article on How To Deal With Hosta Transplant Shock.

Fertilizer for transplanting hostas

If you transplant a hosta in the spring, fertilize it with a slow-release fertilizer. As a result, it will be nourished throughout the season. One fertilization in the spring is enough, but always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

As for fertilizer composition, a balanced fertilizer works best. This means that the product should contain slightly more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium. Make sure it also has iron, magnesium, and zinc.

If you are transplanting in the fall, only use a liquid multi-purpose fertilizer. Just water the hosta once right after transplanting with this fertilizer and that’s it.

Also, the compost that you add to the planting hole will serve as nutrition. All of this is quite enough for vigorous growth and thriving.

How long can hostas be out of the ground?

A hosta can only be off the ground for a few hours. As long as the root ball is moist, the hosta can be on the surface of the ground.

However, do not overuse it. As soon as the soil on the roots dries out, the hosta will begin to wilt and droop. Therefore, it is best to plant the hosta in a new location as soon as you dig it up.

Of course, the rhizome of the hosta is quite hardy and contains a lot of water. This means that it can live long enough outside of the ground. This is the reason why sellers offer bare-root hostas for sale.

However, if the rhizome stays out of the ground for a while, the stems and leaves will droop and die. It will take a considerable amount of time for the hosta to recover.

Can hosta be transplanted anytime?

A hosta cannot be transplanted at any time. Incorrect timing of transplanting can lead to negative consequences.

First of all, you don’t want to transplant a hosta in the winter. This is when the plant is in hibernation. When transplanting, the rhizome can get injured and if it’s dormant it won’t be able to heal the wounds.

By spring the rhizome can simply rot away completely. Or the regeneration process may take several months.

The second period when you should not transplant a hosta is in the summer. This is because it can be very hot in the summer and the transplanted hosta can get a very hard shock. As a result, it can lose a lot of leaves.

The exception to this would be at the end of summer. In fact, the second half of August is when you can transplant your hostas. But the weather should be cool and cloudy.