Flowers & Landscaping
How to Grow Hostas
If you're looking for a way to add beauty to the shady parts of your yard, you can't go wrong with hostas. Learn how to grow them here.
Brighten a shady corner of your yard with a variety of gorgeous hostas. These leafy perennials bring color and texture to garden beds, yet don’t demand intense upkeep to look their best. In fact, the toughest part of growing hostas may simply be choosing which kind to grow.
Here is everything you need to know to grow hostas.
Where to Plant Hostas
To plant hostas, select a spot that receives part to full shade. Most types of hostas can withstand morning, but prefer a shady setting. It’s important to know that these perennials grow best in soil that’s fertile and full of organic matter. Avoid planting hostas in heavy clay soil, which won’t offer enough drainage. In areas that receive a lot of snow in the winter, to protect stems and leaves, place hostas where snow tends to pile up.
What Kind of Soil to Use for Hostas
When growing hostas in planting beds, enrich and improve the existing soil by mixing 3 inches of Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil in with the top 6 to 8 inches of soil already in the bed. Some gardeners prefer to grow hostas in containers. This works best in warmer regions, where winter is mild (zones 7 and warmer). When growing hostas in containers, fill pots with Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Potting Mix, which helps protect plants against over- and under-watering.
How to Choose Hostas
Hosta varieties come in many different colors and patterns, and plant size ranges from miniature to mammoth. Leaves offer hues of green, gold, white, blue, and silver, in either solid colors or variegated patterns. Most gardeners choose hostas for shady areas, but there are hostas that can tolerate a few hours of sun (though they still need protection from the hottest afternoon rays). Gold varieties actually need some sun to develop their rich color. Hostas are hardy in zones 3 to 9, which means they can be grown in virtually any part of the country.
How to Plant Hostas
The best time of year to plant hostas is in early spring or early fall (as soon as summer heat breaks), and before the rainy season if your area has one. Hosta varieties come in different sizes. To determine the right spacing in the garden, check the plant tag. All but the smallest types of hostas typically take a few years to reach their full size, and it’s important to give plants enough elbow room to mature. When planting, place the plant so that the root ball is at the same depth in soil as it was in the pot. Afterwards, be sure to water well.
How to Plant Hostas in Containers
The right container size depends on how large your hosta will become. In general, use a pot that is at least 2 inches larger than the container the plant came in. If you plant a hosta in a pot that is several times larger than the one it came in, take care not to overwater. Until roots become well established, they will retain moisture longer, which provides an ideal breeding ground for root diseases. Once you have chosen the container, follow the planting guidelines listed above.
How to Water Hostas
It is especially important to give hostas consistent moisture during the first growing season, while they are taking root. Check the soil weekly (more often in the summertime), and water when the top inch is dry. Once hosta plants are firmly established, they can often survive on rainfall, except during times of drought. When growing hostas under trees, however, tree roots typically gobble available moisture, so you’ll need to water. The same goes with larger hostas, whose leaves can form a canopy that sheds overhead water, not allowing any to reach the ground (and their roots).
How to Mulch Hostas
After planting hostas, lay down a layer of mulch that is 2 to 3 inches thick. This will help keep moisture from evaporating and weeds from sprouting up, since the mulch blocks weed growth and access to sunlight. Good mulch materials include Scotts® bagged mulch, shredded leaves, pine straw, or some other locally available material.
How to Feed Hostas
Hostas crave a steady nutrient supply throughout the growing season. A month after planting, feed them with Miracle-Gro® Shake ’n Feed® All Purpose Plant Food, making sure to follow the directions on the label. This will keep your hostas fed for up to three months.
How to Care for Hostas
One important part of caring for hostas is removing spent flowers. While this task isn’t absolutely necessary, it does help plants look their best. Clip flower stems at the base after all blossoms have faded.
The primary pests to look out for when growing hostas are slugs, deer, and rabbits. Beat slugs with pet-safe slug baits and traps that help reduce populations, or use Ortho Bug-Geta Snail & Slug Killer. With four-footed critters, protect individual plants with bird netting, or try a spray repellent like like Tomcat® Deer Repellent, which contains essential oils that animals dislike.
Hosta leaves fade in autumn and die back to the ground. Remove spent leaves once they have fully collapsed to help limit the places slugs and other pests can hide through the winter. Plants go dormant during the winter and require no special care.
How to Divide Hostas
Hostas typically grow best when they’re left alone to grow. Many hosta varieties don’t even reach maturity for five years. Once they have matured, however, you may want to divide them.
Divide hostas in spring or early fall, before the rainiest part of the season arrives. If you just want to multiply your plants to place around your yard, simply dig up any smaller plants that have formed around the main clump and replant them. To divide a large clump, unearth it, digging out as many roots as possible. (With a large hosta, you may have to dig down 18 inches to get enough root mass.) Shift the plant onto a tarp, and use your hands, a shovel, or a knife to divide it into smaller sections. Replant the sections, following the guidelines above.
How to Use Hostas
In the garden, try growing hostas to provide an eye-catching shade planting, as well as to attract hummingbirds. Planting multiple large hostas can form an effective ground cover or hedge. A row of hostas can also soften a fence, skirt a tree, or edge a driveway. Small types of hostas work well as edging plants in a shade bed.
Hosta leaves make a nice addition to garden floral bouquets. If you’re growing hostas with different leaf colors, try creating an arrangement of leaves in a vase. Hosta flowers, especially the fragrant types, bring a sweet aroma to indoor settings. The flower stalk opens blooms from bottom to top, so it’s best to pick after at least one-half of the buds have opened.
Ready to start growing hostas? Click on any of the product links above for more information, to purchase the product online, or to find a retailer near you.