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Hosta Basics

 

Hostas are shade-loving favorites that return year after year

The many hosta varieties make it easy to find a perfect grouping for any shaded area. They come in all sizes and have many types of flower colors. The leaves are as showy as the flowers and range from greens to golds to blues.

Leaf color can be affected by how much sun the hosta receives. Most varieties cannot thrive in deep shade and need some sunlight filtration.

Begin fertilizing the hosta beds before new leaves begin to sprout in the spring. Slow-release balanced formulas work best. However, new plants - those that have just be transplanted from a pot - should be given time to establish a healthy root system before adding a weak fertilizer.

The flower stalks (scapes) can be cut back after flowering - this is wise for new plants to encourage leaf growth.

Hostas need a cold dormant period for regrowth. They need this environment for at least a couple of months. In regions where daytime temperatures may unseasonably rise but nighttime temperatures drop, extra mulch should be added to keep the root system stable. Smaller hostas should receive thicker mulch layers as their roots are closer to the surface.

You may choose never to divide your hostas and that is perfectly fine. Some choose to do so to create new borders or groupings. Division should be done when there are no more shoots sprouting in the middle of the plant. Most experts suggest that division be done in spring just as new shoots begin to appear. Others will recommend August as this gives the root system time to continue growing and to reestablish itself in each of the new plants before the first frost.

Hostas do have some pests and animals to deal with including rabbits, deer, slugs, and snails.

When ordering by mail or on-line, you may receive your hosta plants as a rhizome or bare-root plant. Place these directly in the ground and begin watering. Hostas tend to be spreaders and will typically grow wider than tall. Space according to instructions per species.

Note: One year ago, we planted hostas for the first time in East Texas red clay - with a good mix of "regular" soil. Before we got them in the ground a hailstorm damaged most of them. We planted, anyway, and they struggled through the summer. This year, they are all beginning to sprout new leaves through the mulch. This speaks to the extreme hardiness of hostas.

 

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