Perennial plants are excellent, low-maintenance plants for your garden. Perennials survive for years without dying like other seasonal plants as the winter arrives. Hostas offer temperate shade for the garden, and there are countless varieties available to plant in your garden.
Hostas interbreed easily, so it’s possible to create a new variety if you allow them to pollinate each other. Hostas come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, with hearty-shaped, rounded or oval foliage that features lines of cream, yellow, or white running down the center or edges of the leaves.
Many varieties produce blossoms in lavender, purple, blue, or white, emitting a pleasant fragrance into the air around the plant, attracting pollinators and birds to your garden. There are many breeders of these plants, and there is a new breed of hostas produced every 12-hours.
Hostas are similar to orchids in that breeders are always looking to cross-breed species to produce a new plant. There are hundreds of orchids varieties and thousands of hostas species available. Some of these specialist varieties, such as the ‘Poke Salad Annie,’ fetch more than $200 per plant.
Getting started with growing hostas in your garden doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Visit your local nursery, and you’ll find dozens of varieties available for an affordable price.
How to Grow Hostas
Hostas grow readily in all climate conditions, from Canada to San Diego. We recommend hostas for any garden that resides in USDA zones 3 to 9.
Hostas produce beautiful flowers with a powerful fragrance in the summer, and they enjoy overwintering in colder climates. Most growers notice that a cold winter will cause the hostas to flower more in the following summer.
Hostas that enjoy growing in USDA zone 7 to 3 are larger species, with bigger root systems that can survive the cold winter. However, there are heat-tolerant varieties, such as the “Royal Standard,” that do well in warmer climates in USDA Zone 10 as well.
When selecting the right hostas for your region, plants with bluish-colors in the foliage are suitable for colder regions, while those with yellowish foliage can take stronger sunlight conditions. When planting, checking, monitoring, and maintaining your soil is paramount.
How to Plant Hostas
You can buy hostas from your local nursery, and the nursery will likely stock plants that suit growing in your local environment. Most hostas are only available in the springtime, and you can get them as bare-root divisions or as pot plants.
When planting your hostas, it’s vital that you choose a planting site with soil that drains well. Hostas don’t like to get their “feet wet,” meaning that soggy soil around the roots might result in the onset of root rot and disease in the plant.
Make sure that your soil has plenty of nutrients from mulch and other organic matter. When planting your hostas, make sure you give the roots ample room to grow and don’t plant them near other shrubs or trees.
Digg a hole in your flowerbed, and line it with potting soil. When placing the hostas in the ground, make sure that the crown of the plant is still visible above the soil line. Covering the crown results in rot, and your hostas will die.
After planting, lightly water the ground around the roots until the soil turns moist. Don’t overwater, as you might encourage root rot in the plant at this sensitive stage in its life cycle.
You can plant hostas in the shade if you like, but we prefer areas of the garden that receive around 2 to 3-hours of sunlight in the morning. Avoid planting your hostas in direct sunlight, as they might burn in warm weather.
If you live in the Southern states of the U.S, below USDA zone 7, then we recommend that you plant your hostas in the shade, as these plants will perish under direct sunlight in these areas.
Those gardeners living in southern Florida and the Gulf states need to plant heat-resistant varieties like “Hosta plantaginea,” and you’ll need to ensure that you increase the plant’s water requirements, especially during the peak of summer.
Avoid planting your hostas in clay soil. Clay has the worst drainage, and you’ll end up with your hostas developing root rot. Always plant in loose, loamy soil that has plenty of nutrients.
Feed your hostas during the early spring, using a slow-release fertilizer like blood meal or fish meal. Always follow the instructions on the fertilizer before feeding. We prefer using liquid fertilizers over granules for our hostas. Feed your plants again during the peak summer, and then leave it for the rest of the season.
Water your hostas in the early morning to prevent evaporation, especially in the warmer regions of the United States. Watering in the midday sun wastes this valuable resource, and you’ll need to double your watering requirements at this time of the day.
When watering, make sure the soil is moist, but not saturated. Hostas have sensitive roots, and if you overwater the plant, it could result in the onset of root rot. Mulch around the base of the plant to stop evaporation, but make sure that you don’t cover the crown of the hostas with mulch.
After the plant is finished flowering, remove all the dead flowers to inspire a secondary flowering phase in the late summer. Remember to clean the floor around your plants and remove any dead organic materials. Dead leaves and flowers attract pests and disease, running your hostas.
Transplant your hostas to another area of the garden, or remove it from a pot and plant it in the ground. These plants are hardy and can withstand transplant stress. However, we recommend that you do this task in the early spring as the first leaves emerge. Always transplant on a cloudy day, and remember to water after you finish planting.
When to Divide Hostas
Divide your hostas in the late spring, as well. To split the plants, you’ll need to dig up the roots. After three or four years of growth, your hosta will form clumps that are suitable for dividing and spreading to other areas of the garden.
Mature plants may provide you with as many as four or five divisions, and you’ll know it’s time to divide the plants when the hosta grows clusters of shoots around the base of the plant. Lift the entire plant out of the soil and wash the roots with water.
Use a sharp knife to cut between the shoots, leaving you individual shoots that have the roots still attached. After dividing, replant all of the divisions in prepared planting sites, and water them thoroughly to reduce transplant and division shock.
Companion Plants for Hostas
Hosta is a beautiful plant, especially when it starts to flower. Surround your hostas with companion plants that enhance the beauty of its floral display. Try combining broad-leaved hostas with other perennials that have thinner foliage, such as wild columbines, ferns, and astilbes.
Create a pastel color palette in your garden by adding plants with contrasting colors. Here are some of our top choices for companion plants.
- Solomon’s seal.
- Golden Japanese forest grass.
- Ogon sweet flag.
- Wild ginger.
- ‘Mrs. Moon’ lungwort.
Pests Affecting Hostas
There are a variety of pests and diseases affecting your hostas. The most common pest in the suburbs is deer. These animals love feeding on hostas, and a single deer can reduce your plant to a stump overnight.
- Your only defense against deer is to either enclose your garden or use deer repellant on the plants. Other than deer, hostas are relatively pest-resistant, and most bugs leave these plants alone.
- Rabbits are also an issue for hostas growers. These rodents like to chew on the stems of the plants, and you’ll notice the damage as a clean scrape on the stem. Check around the garden for signs of droppings and torn leaves for evidence of rabbits eating your plants.
- However, there are a few that take a liking to hostas, so make sure you watch out for signs of slugs and snails. If these pests are a problem in your garden, then plant the varieties that have thicker leaves, such as “Elegans,” and “Halcyon.”
- Voles also like to feed on the roots of hostas. If you live in an area that has voles, then don’t mulch your pants, as you won’t see the signs of voles dining on the roots of your plants. For those gardeners with voles lurking in the soil., we recommend you plant your hostas with gravel around the roots and use a product called “volebloc” to make it hard for the voles to feats on your hostas.
Recommended Hostas Varieties
We recommend the following varieties of hostas for newbie gardeners.
- “August Moon” – Features white blossoms with chartreuse leaves, reaches a maximum height of 20-inches. This plant sprawls out twice as wide as it is tall.
- “Halcyon” – Featuring powder-blue leaves and flowers, this plant reaches around 18-inches in height and almost 3-feet in width.
- “Royal Standard” – Featuring green leaves with deep veins and white blossoms that emit a pleasant fragrance. This variety grows up to 2-feet tall and 4-feet in width.