Hostas are one of the most commonly grown plants that are cultivated for their lush foliage and ease of care. Hosta plants are perennials that tolerate almost any environment and are favored by landscapers and home gardeners alike. Commercially available, this plant will withstand many conditions that other plants cannot tolerate to thrive.
Hosta plants come in an array of colors. The basic shades include green, blue, white and yellow. All of them have been hybridized and are now available in different combinations of colors where the centers of the leaves have different hues then the margins. The leaves change their shade all throughout the growing season and often transform from deep green to creamy yellow. The location and temperature are the two main factors in appearance of Hostas. You can learn even more about hosta plants varieties on this website.
Hosta also produces flowers and can bloom at any time between June and October with rows of purple flowers on single stalks. Certain species grow white flowers with lilac stripes that may resemble funnels or bells. Flowering Hostas are preferred by gardeners for their added visual value and are often used in flower beds with tulips, daffodils, anemones and snowdrops. In summer months, bright begonias and impatiens make wonderful companion plants for the Hostas.
Hostas are shade-tolerant and adapt to almost any level of light. However, the best results are obtained if the plant is grown in areas with morning sun and evening shade. An exposure to the heat of the afternoon is not recommended as these plants require at least 6 hours of shade daily to thrive. They can be planted as a preventive measure for weed control as their thick horizontal crowns leave no room or light for the weeds to grow. They are perfect for the following conditions:
- Edger/Boarder – Hosta’s growth is typically horizontal. They can spread rapidly creating a dense ground cover. They are ideal for planting at the edge of the lawn to prevent the weeds overgrowing the pathways and sidewalks.
- Ground Rings Around Trees – Hostas can be planted as focal poinst when placed around the trunk of a tree. As the plants may have a problem competing with the surface roots of the tree for nutrients and moisture, this choice is only recommended for mature trees with well established and deep root system growing vertically down into the ground
- Ground Covers – The areas of the garden that are prone to weed growth may be the ideal selection for Hosta growing. Large patches of landscaping greatly benefit from strategically planted colonies of Hostas to create carpet-like appearance that is weed and maintenance free.
- Background Planting – Large and matured Hostas are often implemented as background plants. Their intense foliage creates an ideal contrast for bright flowering plants cultivated next to them.
In this video guide you can learn about plants that complement hosta
Sun-tolerant versions of Hostas are more resilient to the hot sunrays, but have to be watered profusely several times per day. Only well established Hostas may be able to survive the exposure to the sun as long as they do not excessively lose the moisture in the soil and are protected from the winds.
Hostas can be planted as early as March and as late as October. These perennials flourish most vigorously when planted in the spring as they are provided with enough time to establish a strong root system before the dormant period of winter.
When planting, the roots should be untangled and bare. It is recommended to soak the entire root system for two hours before placing the plant in the ground. Soil bed preparation should be completed ahead of time by mixing regular garden soil with compost and fertilizer and combining all ingredients with each other few days before planting.
If planting around the trees, the soil should be periodically re-distributed and blended with additional compost and fertilizer. This method of Hosta care will ensure that the shallow roots of the tree do not invade the root system of the Hosta.
The standard fall planting time is late August or early September. The most appropriate time is 4-6 weeks before the first frost. The ground is still warm from the summer months and will allow the Hostas to enter the initial developing stages of growth making the plant durable enough to withstand the winter.
Because Hostas are completely dormant in winter, planting them any later than October comes with a risk of the plant not being able to survive until the next spring and the roots may rot for the following reasons:
- The roots are very dry when planted and then frozen
- Poor winter drainage leading to overly wet soil
- Alternating cycles of freezing and thawing occur because of mild winters
Applying small amounts of mulch around the planted Hostas will ensure stability of the ground temperature and constant moisture without over flooding.
The exact growth of Hostas is difficult to predict as it greatly depends on the type and the environment the plant is cultivated in. The most common varieties grow up to 12 inches high and 36 inches in diameter.
The miniature Hostas, such as Baby Bunting spread only few inches in each direction. The large specimens, such as Blue Angel or Sum and Substance, may reach the height and width of several feet. Many cultivated varieties (cultivars) have been developed for the specific needs of gardeners and include these features:
- Accelerated growth capacity
- Leaf colors
- Pest resistance
- Size of the blooms
- Density of the leaf crown
Growing Hostas and caring for them is a minimal task as this plant is relatively easy to cultivate and maintain.
Soil– The Hostas prefer rich organic soil with generous amounts of compost, clay and sand creating a mild alkaline environment. Special care should be taken when fertilizing as most of the components included in modern-day fertilizers lead to undesired levels of acidity. A peat moss and shredded pine bark often remedies the problem and should be thoroughly mixed with the soil before planting.
Planting – If the young plants come from a container, the roots should be vertically cut into quadrants and loosened prior
planting. Soaking them is an imperative step as it allows the plant to absorb the moisture and easily adapt to the soil.
It is also advisable not to use the soil from the container but the new mix that contains all of the necessary ingredients. The fertilizer should be incorporated into the mix instead of placing it on the top layer. The plant should be generously watered
immediately after planting and daily thereafter until fully integrated with the surrounding ground.
Fertilization – All forms of fertilizer can be used including granular and liquid applications as long as they are mixed well with the soil. The application is most beneficial when repeated every 7-10 days. All fertilizing should be halted by the end of July to allow the plant to go through the hardening process before the winter.
Water – Proper watering regimen is most essential as Hostas crave moisture during the growing season. Any wilting of the leaves is the usual sign of drought. Any irrigation systems or hand watering should be proportionate to the seasonal rainfall to ensure proper levels of moisture and optimal growth.
Watch more about how to grow hosta plants:
- Group Hostas together but allow enough space for them to spread freely.
- Hostas can be invasive and should be planted in areas with ample room to grow.
- Store Hosta bulbs in the ground over winter covered with a thin layer of mulch or straw.
- When growing them in containers, use only 1-2 plants per pot.
- Water Hostas in the morning to maintain healthy plants.
- Hostas prefer cooler climates and may not be suitable for hot and humid zones as they typically develop crown rot due to excessive above-ground moisture.
- Large Hostas are more difficult to sustain and require annual dividing to curb any excessive growth.
- Deer and rabbits find Hostas as a delightful part of their diet and wire cages or fencing may be necessary for protection.
- If yellow rings on the leaves or mottling are noticed, the plant should be discarded to prevent the
infestation by the Hosta virus.
- Slugs and snails can occasionally invade the colony of Hostas. It is advisable to purchase plants that are slug-resistant or use commercial insecticides regularly as a preventive measure. Or you can try other methods which you can find here