Latin Name Pronunciation: hos'tuh  

Who doesn't love Hostas, those distinctive perennial staples of shade gardens everywhere? Not only are they easy to grow and maintain, they can transform an otherwise unremarkable shady patch of the yard into an appealing landscape.

The hybridizers have gone wild with Hostas , which are now available in sizes from a few inches to several feet tall with foliage in many bold or subdued patterns and colors. The larger varieties can be truly architectural and stand out as specimen plants, while other forms are ideal for edging, lighting up a woodland, or stabilizing a slope.

Light/Watering: Drought-tolerant once established, these plants are at their best in evenly moist soil in partial shade, although a very few will tolerate full sun with sufficient water. Once established, Hostas can take a good bit of drought, and will compete successfully with tree roots in the North, but need regular watering in the South.

Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Hostas thrive in average, even damp, soils that are slightly acid and will benefit from a light application of fertilizer in early spring. These low-maintenance plants can be ignored and they will still perform; to get the most out of them, however, provide deep, rich soil and consistent watering along with occasional side-dressing of compost or aged manure. An organic mulch is appreciated but keep it away from the crowns.

Pests/Diseases: Slugs are the bane of Hostas; use slug bait, dishes of beer, and diatomaceous earth to discourage them. Voles have been known to decimate plantings by eating the roots; trap or use another method to repel these varmints.

Companion Plants: Hostas are lovely with other shade-lovers such as Ferns, Tiarella, taller Campanulas, Phlox divaricata, Daylilies, and, especially, true Lilies. They are ideal when planted amid patches of spring-flowering bulbs, as their foliage will obscure the bulb foliage as it dies back.

Reflowering: Very few varieties will reflower; cut flower spikes off at their base when blooming is over.

Dividing/Transplanting: These forgiving plants are best divided in spring when the new leaves are still furled up, but both division and transplanting are successful throughout the season if attention is paid to thorough follow-up watering.

Calendar of Care

Early Spring: Apply a light application of balanced or slow-release fertilizer or side-dress with compost and organic amendments when new growth appears. Divide or transplant now before leaves unfurl. Water newly planted plants well if it is unseasonably dry, as Hostas prefer evenly moist soil.

Mid-Spring: Mulch plants after soil has warmed, keeping mulch away from the crowns to discourage rot.

Late Spring: Watch for slug damage and use preventative measures if slugs are active.

Summer: Groom plants by removing yellow or dead leaves and cut flower spikes back as they finish blooming, unless you want to collect seed.

Fall: Cut foliage back to soil level. For new plants, provide a winter mulch of evergreen boughs or salt marsh hay after the ground freezes to help prevent heaving.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make Hostas grow bigger?

Hostas’ size at maturity depends on their variety; they come in all different sizes, shades, and patterns. If you’re seeking a large Hosta, be sure to choose a large variety such as Hosta Shadowland™ ‘Empress Wu’. You can ensure health and vigor by planting them in rich, well-drained soil and making sure they have a lot of water. Adding some time-release granular fertilizer at planting time is helpful, as is periodic foliar feeding throughout the growing season. Mulch will preserve moisture and keep weeds at bay.

Where to plant Hostas?

Hostas will happily grow in any well-drained spot where they receive adequate water. Though they tolerate full shade, in northern Zones, they will benefit from filtered or even full sunlight, as long as they receive enough water. Hostas love water—but not so much that it soaks their roots.

Can Hostas grow in full sun?

Many varieties of Hostas can grow in full sun in northern Zones (3-6) but their leaves tend to get burned by the hot southern sun. It’s particularly important to keep Hostas in sunny locations well-watered throughout the growing season.

How fast do Hostas grow?

Hostas rate of growth depends on several factors including plant variety, soil quality, moisture, fertilization, and sunlight. Hostas grow faster with more sunlight—though this can be counterproductive in southern Zones as noted above. Depending on the variety, Hostas can take 3–7 years to reach maturity.

Can Hostas grow in pots?

Hostas will happily grow in containers filled with enriched potting soil. It’s critical to keep your plants well watered, as pots can dry out quickly on hot sunny days. The bigger the containers the better, and they must have drainage holes.

Emerald Isle Hosta Collection

Growing Hosta