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Top 10 Questions About Hosta Plants

Here at Gardening Know
How
we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to
those inquiries to the best of our knowledge. Hostas are
some of the most popular of landscape plants, especially in shady areas of the
garden. But these wonderful foliage specimens are not without their problems. Below
are our answers to 10 most commonly asked questions we receive when growing hosta plants in
the landscape
.

1. When is the best time to plant hosta?

While a hosta
can be planted
at any point during the growing season, the two most ideal
times are in early spring after the last frost or in the fall, 4-6 weeks before
the first frost.

2. Should you fertilize a hosta?

Yes, you can and should fertilize a hosta plant. Fertilizer
will help your hostas achieve optimum growth. At a minimum, you should
fertilize your hostas each spring with an all-purpose garden fertilizer. You
may also wish to fertilize during the summer, but this is not completely
necessary.

3. How to fix holes in my hosta leaves?

Holes in hosta leaves are typically a calling card of slugs
or snails.
There are many tactics you can employ against these garden assailants, such as
setting up beer baits or surrounding your plants with diatomaceous earth,
crushed eggshells or copper wire.

4. How much sun will a hosta tolerate?

Hostas are mostly shade-loving plants
and enjoy soaking in dappled sunlight throughout the day. If you’re really
wanting to push the envelope for sun intensity, there are a handful of hosta
varieties
that are more adaptable for a more sunny spot – just be prepared
to water them more regularly than their shaded counterparts. These sun tolerant
hostas can withstand a few hours of direct sun a day (full morning and late
afternoon sun is best) and tend to share certain traits, such as thick leaves,
leaves with hues of white, yellow or gold and more fragrant flowers.

5. How to divide a hosta plant?

The ideal time to divide
hostas
is in early spring or in the fall. The first step is to dig up the
entire root clump. Work the plant loose from the ground by digging about 3-5
inches (7.6 to 13 cm.) around the base of the plant. Pull the plant out of the
ground and shake off any loose soil. Set the plant on the ground and part the
foliage so you can see the center of the plant. Take a flat-bottomed shovel and
split the plant down the middle from the crown down. Now it’s time to plant the
newly separated sections. Dig holes 2-3 times the size of the root masses. Add
plant food to the holes, mixed in with some compost, insert the plants and then
backfill. Give the hostas a drink of water and add some mulch around the base
of the plants.

6. Can I cut the flowers off of my hosta?

Yes, no harm will befall your hosta by cutting the flowers. They
can be trimmed at any point whether they are actively blooming or spent. Some hosta
flowers
, however, actually have a wonderful fragrance which may make you
reconsider.

7. Should you cut hosta leaves back in the fall?

As fall progresses, your hostas will begin to naturally show
signs of decline. Once the leaves start turning yellow and fading, that’s your
telltale sign to prune. Pruning and disposing of these leaves is important
because dead leaves left on the plant have the potential to harbor pests and
disease, and you don’t want that. How far should your pruning go? Prune
hosta plants
to ground level and dispose of the trimmings.

8. How to winterize hosta plants?

For in-ground plantings, cut back the hosta leaves and
spread a 2- to 3-inch (5 to 7.6 cm.) layer of mulch over the crown before the
first hard frost in the fall. The mulch will help retain moisture in the soil
as well as regulate the soil temperature, preventing the heaving that can occur
during cycles of soil freezing and thawing. For container plantings, it is
easiest to just move the containers into an unheated garage or shed when
temperatures dip below freezing. Water occasionally when the soil starts to go
dry, but do so only on mild days and when the soil or root ball in the
container is not frozen.

9. Can you grow hosta in containers?

Hostas actually make great container plants for a shady
corner on your porch or patio so long as you are mindful to water them
regularly. Knowing how
to plant hostas in a container
will allow you to be creative! Hostas can be
mixed in with other shade-loving flowers and plants to create some really
eye-popping arrangements. 

10. Why are my hosta leaves turning yellow?

There are a multitude of reasons why your hosta
leaves may be turning yellow
. The leaves could be scorching due to too much
sun exposure. Your plant could be falling victim to pests, such as foliar
nematodes, or any number of fungal diseases, rots and viruses. If it’s late in
the season (i.e. fall/winter), your plant may just be naturally declining. Or
perhaps you are simply watering it too little or not enough.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time
gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a
gardening answer
. We’re always here to help.

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