Growing Hostas is a sure bet for fabulous, foolproof foliage that will enhance any garden. Hostas are the most popular perennial in the US and it’s easy to see why – these undemanding, easy-to-grow plants will thrive almost anywhere with a minimum of care. There are so many varieties of Hosta that they can fill just about any need you have in your garden. Hostas range in size from 6 inches to 3 feet tall with foliage that ranges from green to gold to blue-green. There is also a large selection of leaf textures to choose from. Smooth, seersucker, and crinkled are just a few of the many choices.
The flowers are very fragrant and include colors ranging between white, lavender, and blue. Although Hosta’s are virtually maintenance free, if you follow the subsequent guidelines when planting your next Hosta you will amazed with the outcome.
Before planting a Hosta, it is important to ensure that the site you have chosen has the appropriate characteristics to allow for proper growth. Light to full shade is ideal for most varieties of Hosta. Types of Hosta with gold or green leaves need some sun in order to develop the proper leaf color. However, the blue-leafed varieties grow best in full shade in a part of the garden with a cooler temperature. Hostas also prefer rich organic soil that is moist and well drained.
Planting your Hosta in the spring will provide you with the best results. Begin by preparing your garden bed with a tiller or garden fork to a depth of 12”. Before digging the hole, mix in a 4” layer of compost. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball. Then remove the plant for the pot and place it in the hole so that the top of the root ball is level with the top of the hole. Carefully backfill the hole and gently firm the soil. Finish by watering thoroughly.
Caring for Hostas
To care for a Hosta simply place a 2” layer of mulch around the base of the stems leaving room for the flower to breath. Water thoroughly during the summer when there is less than 1” of rain per week. After the first deep frost cut the plant back leaving only 1 or 2 inches above the ground. Dividing the plants every 3 to 4 years as the new growth begins in the spring will keep your Hostas looking their best.
Hostas aren’t heavy feeders, so a good feeding in early spring (before they break ground) is generally enough to keep them happy. A balanced slow release fertilizer such as 13-13-13 is both safe and effective for hostas. If you like to fertilize during the season, use a weak mixture of a 20-20-20 fertilizer.
Hostas like to be moist, but they don’t like to be soggy. As a general guideline, think in terms of a minimum of an inch of water per week, but be prepared to adjust according to temperature and conditions. When the temperatures are high, hostas will need more water. If you’re growing your hostas in sandy soil water will drain quickly, so you may need to increase the amount of water you provide. Watering early in the day is good for most plants, including hostas.
Deep watering is important to ensure good root development. Keeping the roots moist is particularly important when planting a new hosta or transplanting an older one, so take extra precautions. Mail-order hostas, which are frequently shipped with bare roots, should be soaked in tepid water for about a half hour before planting. If you’re dividing a large hosta or relocating a hosta to another part of your garden, water it well both before you start digging and after it has been planted.