Frequently Asked Questions

  1. WHY ARE HOSTAS SO POPULAR?
    Hostas are the Number One perennial in North America for three reasons: ease of growth, low maintenance and use in landscape design. There are nearly 2000 different varieties of hosta -- so the possibilities are endless.

  2. HOW MUCH CARE DO HOSTAS REQUIRE?
    Hostas are easy to grow, shade-tolerant perennials originating in Japan, Korea and China. They last for years and mature into spectacular specimens.

  3. CAN I PLANT HOSTAS IN THE SUN?
    Morning sun seems most conducive to vigorous growth without having the strength to burn the leaves. Dappled sunlight is ideal for hostas. Some hostas will do well in the sun and they are grown primarily for their luxuriant foliage.

  4. WILL HOSTAS THRIVE IN DEEP SHADE?
    In very deep shade hostas may grow weak and develop larger, thinner leaves with smaller mounds; some sunshine is preferred.

  5. ARE HOSTAS SUITED TO CONTAINERS?
    Yes, hostas are adaptable and hardy and are a great choice for container planting. Take care that the pot is not too large as this can lead to overly wet or overly dry soil conditions. For best growth there should be no more than 2-3 inches (5-7cm) between the outside wall of the pot and the outmost roots of the plant. Small hostas in particular are extremely popular in container gardening this year. The most important factor in container gardening is drainage. Extra holes may be drilled into the bottom of the pot keeping them open for drainage. Adding a layer of gravel or stones to the bottom of the container does not improve drainage: instead it decreases the amount of soil and root growing space in the pot. A fast draining soil mix assures good drainage. Do not use normal topsoil or garden soil for pot planting. Their drainage abilities are different and may cause a lot of damage if used in a container above ground.

    Hostas in containers require more frequent watering than those grown directly in the ground. During hot and dry weather plants may require watering every other day or even daily. When watering, make sure that you see water dripping out of the pot. This ensures a thorough soaking of the root system. Frequent light watering promotes shallow root growth resulting in the plant being susceptible to drought.

  6. HOW CAN I OVER WINTER MY HOSTAS?
    If your hostas are in a pot, just plant the pot in the garden, making sure the rim of the pot is slightly below the surface of the soil.

    You can also store your hosta containers in an unheated garage, shed or cold frame. Without any natural rain or snow they may need to be given a light water occasionally. Without moisture to their root system hostas will not survive the winter. If you keep your pots outside, tip them sideways and cover them with mulch. This is to prevent ice build up on top of your pot which during the freeze thaw cycle will cause root and crown rot.

  7. WHAT ARE THE BLOOMS LIKE?
    While many perennials are cultivated for the beauty of their flowers which are of short duration, hostas are famous for their foliage. This characteristic saves you the concern of the timing of your blooms and the coordination of colour. That being said, some of the hosta blooms are wonderfully fragrant and beautiful in their simplicity.

  8. WHAT ABOUT COLOUR?
    I feel that colour in the garden is what it is all about and hostas give you lots of choice to create the mood you want to achieve. Solid greens are restful and evoke a peaceful atmosphere. Golds and yellows are available for warm colour; they can be used as beacons to draw the eye to specific areas in the garden. The blues express a cool mood and the beautiful multiplicity of variegated patterns available, provide dynamic contrast to their surroundings.

  9. CAN YOU SUGGEST PLANTING COMBINATIONS?
    The options are endless; individual collections, borders, island beds, focusing on colour, form, mass and texture. Hostas work well with a large range of perennials and annuals. Adding other plants to your hosta beds increases the interest in your garden through diversity. The most popular mix includes spring bulbs and native woodland plants. Snowdrops and crocuses flower while hostas are still dormant. Tulips and daffodils begin flowering just as hosta foliage is emerging. As the hostas grow, they cover the spring bulb foliage. For summer interest, shade-loving annuals such as coleus, impatiens and begonias complement the hosta hues. Since ferns have the same growing requirements as do hostas, they do well together. Their delicate texture is a striking contrast to hostas while tiarellas, ornamental ginger and ajuga make a great ground cover between the plants. Hostas are versatile; there is a hosta for nearly every landscape area.

  10. WHEN CAN I PLANT HOSTAS?
    Hostas can be planted in early spring as soon as the ground can be worked. The best time is when they are developing new roots which is in the spring after the first flush of leaves has hardened off or in late summer after the most intense heat is over.

  11. WHAT TYPE OF SOIL DO HOSTAS REQUIRE?
    Hostas love moist, but well-drained soil. Add organic matter such as garden compost, leaf mould, well-rotted manure, composted pine bark and peat moss to make the soil slightly acidic. Organic materials provide air space for rapid root growth but should be firm enough to discourage voles and other rodents. If you are battling tree roots, a raised bed is a good idea. Clean out the tree roots and amend the soil (mushroom compost and peat moss are the best in my opinion). Preparing your beds for future healthy, happy hostas is of utmost importance.

  12. HOW SHOULD I PLANT HOSTAS?
    Dig a hole 2-3 times as wide as your hosta plant. Hostas are considered to be a shallow-rooted plant with roots that spread horizontally. Plant the hostas so the area where the leaves and roots meet is level with the soil. I like to make a mound of compost and peat moss to rest the crown on and run the roots downward. If the hosta is bare root, soak the roots in tepid water for a few hours before planting. Planting and spacing your hostas is a matter of personal choice. Hostas display to their best advantage when given space to majestically arch and touch the ground rather than overlapping others. Some of the varieties can be planted closer together, making beautiful sweeps and borders; this method is also useful as ground cover for effective weed control.

  13. DO I NEED TO FERTILIZE HOSTAS?
    Hostas are heavy feeders and respond well to fertilizing. Depending on which method you choose, granular or liquid, most people believe in a balanced ratio. Chemical or organic fertilizers are both available. In very rich soil an annual application of leaf mould or garden compost in the autumn is sufficient. A Spring application of 10-10-10 around the base of the plant will give it a good boost. Be careful not to apply fertilizer too near to the crown, in order to prevent leaf burn.

  14. HOW MUCH WATERING DO HOSTAS REQUIRE?
    Hostas have been known to tolerate severe drought conditions but they really prefer about an 1Ē (2.5cm) of water per week during the growing season. This is especially important for the lighter type or sandy soils. Moisture is easily lost through foliage so itís important to make sure the water penetrates deeply into the soil to develop a good root system. Too little water can cause a mild burning of the leaf tops.

    If your hostas do not get enough water, leaves will droop, but hostas are tough and usually endure. Over a dry period hostas simply stop growing. If possible, ensure that your hostas are kept well-watered.

  15. DO HOSTAS REQUIRE CARE IN THE FALL?
    Label your plants because by spring those plastic tags you have, may be faded or break and blow away. Using metal labels or placing the label underground in a plastic bag seems to be more effective. I like to use the metal labels pressing them deeply into the ground to prevent their being pulled out.

    Remove all leaves, preferably in the fall, but if not, in early spring. This will help to minimize next yearís pest problems such as slugs, fungal infections and foliar nematodes. You can then add a thin layer of mulch for crown protection. This is also a great time to get all those spring bulbs in the ground for your enjoyment next year.

  16. WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT HOSTAS?
    The Hosta Handbook - Mark R.Zillis
    The Hosta Book - Paul Aden
    The Gardener's Guide of Growing Hostas - Diana Grenfell
    The Color Encyclopedia of Hostas - Diana Grenfell & Michael Shadrack



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Quick Facts:

Watering Hostas:

Always remember, for hostas to grow their best, they will usually require more water than the rain provides. Too little water can cause a mild burning of the leaf tops.
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