Hostas Care, Transplanting Hostas, & Hosta Varieties

Tips for hostas care, transplanting hostas, hosta varieties and more. One of the most popular shade-loving perennials, hostas are super easy to grow. Includes tips on how to keep deer from eating hostas.

hosta varieties with flagstone border shade-loving perennials
‘Royal Standard’ | Classic hosta, solid green leaves, wide-growing.

If your gardening goal is to have as little maintenance as possible, hosta plants (sometimes referred to as a plantain lilies) are the answer. As a DIY, self-taught gardener, I can honestly say that maintaining hosta plants is the easiest thing I’ve ever done outside. Here are a few facts that, if you need a little convincing, will do the trick.

Hosta Varieties

  • Hostas are available in a wide range of sizes.
  • These shade-loving perennials come in a variety of leaf shapes.
  • Because there is such a huge number of hosta varieties, they are available in an amazing array of colors, both variegated and solid.
  • There are more than 2500 cultivars to choose from.
hosta varieties variegated leaves shade-loving perennials
Hosta ‘Vulcan’ | Variegated with large, curly leaves.

Hostas Care

When it comes to shade-loving perennials, nothing could be easier to grow than hostas. 

  • Hostas are hardy and are considered perennials in US zones 3 thru 9. If planting in zones 8 & 9, they will definitely need shade and a bit of extra water. 
  • When planting, leave enough room for the width of the mature plant…and they do get big. Some giant hostas can grow to be 5 feet wide. 
  • Amending the soil is important for growing hostas as well as for good drainage. Before planting, add compost or manure to your soil. They like an acidic pH but are known to thrive in any kind of soil.
  • Slugs love to munch on hosta leaves. It is so frustrating to have holes chewed in your beautiful hosta plants. Sprinkling sand or lime in a circle around a plant will help keep the slugs away.
  • Hostas die down in the fall and go dormant in the winter months. This dormant period during cold weather serves two purposes. It allows the plants to re-charge for the next growing season, plus it makes for easy clean-up of garden beds. Just rake away the dried leaves but make sure to dispose of them properly. Do not add them to a compost pile.
  • If planted in pots or planters, hostas grow and thrive beautifully, but it’s best to put them in the ground for the winter months. 
transplanting hostas with solid greed leaves
Hosta ‘Lancifolia’ | Solid green with slender, shiny leaves.

Transplanting Hostas

The best time of year to plant hostas is during the early spring weeks when the ground is soft and can be easily amended. They can also be planted in the early fall, but make sure you have at least 4 to 6 weeks before a hard frost so the roots can settle in. 

Hostas live for many years. If they get too big, they can be divided in the spring just after their green shoots pop through the soil. Transplanting hostas is easy. Just dig up the entire plant and carefully split with a shovel. Dividing and transplanting hostas is also a great way to grow your garden with free plants. 

*Some links lead to websites where I am an affiliate. See my disclosure statement HERE.

How to keep deer from eating hostas

UPDATE: After this post was published, I received quite a few questions about how to keep deer from eating hostas. I don’t have that problem, so I asked in my gardening group. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Fishing line at about deer eye/neck level. This a bit hard to gauge but with a little patience and a few tries, it does work. 
  • Liquid Fence Spray: It has to be sprayed at least twice a week and after it rains. Probably a little hard to keep up with. Also available: Liquid Fence Granules.
  • A product called Messina’s Deer Stopper. Works well if applied regularly.
  • Milorganite Fertilizer. You can read more about it HERE.
  • From a reader: Use Dawn dish detergent mixed with water in a spray bottle. Squirt the plants once per week and after it rains. 
    “Works like a charm and is cheap.”

shade loving perennials hostas daylilies

Shade-Loving Perennials 

The color of the foliage on all the hosta varieties will tell you how much sun each hosta plant can withstand. Plants with variegated leaves that have white or light green coloring can take much more sun than plants with darker green, solid leaves. Hostas pair nicely with other shade-loving perennials like bleeding hearts, ferns, daylilies or impatiens. Mix and match different hosta varieties for your own signature garden design. 

One of my favorite things to do with hosta leaves is to use them in garden flower arrangements. The leaves literally last for days, they add interest and amazing color. 

hosta daisy arrangement in blue ball jar

So…have I convinced you to plant some hostas? I hope so because, with just a little bit of effort, hosta plants will bring you many years of beauty and joy. Here’s to many fulfilling hours in the garden!

Are you looking for the HOSTA PLANT infographic?
Click {HERE.}

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77 Comments

  1. Mary Alice Kenley says:

    Love the info on hostas. Is there a variety that does well in a hanging basket?

  2. My yard is very shady. Thanks for the help!

  3. I love hosta too. Their leaves are vibrant and beautiful!! Thank you for sharing your tips and I love reading your blog posts.

  4. 5 stars
    Always pick up something new from your updates. Thanks so much also want to tell you I appreciate the new download for the iPhone calendar. It is great.

  5. Yours always look so lovely, I think I’ll plant some now. We have so many trees and a lot of shade, so they should be happy. Thanks for the tips – am happy to learn they’ll grow in my zone.

  6. I keep deer away from my garden plants by making what I call “deer cans.” Basically, a can opened with a cut off opener and two holes poked opposite each other on the sides of the unopenned end. Soak a cloth in the deer repellent, stuff it inside the can (careful of that sharp edged lid), and press the lid into can to hold the cloth in. Use one punched hole to hang it (or just hide it in the plant) and use the other hole to refresh the cloth once a month. Inside the can, the repellant does not wash away in the rain if the top faces downward.

  7. I have tried but they just don’t seem to like South Georgia. ☹️

  8. paula lewis says:

    Yes, the black nursery pots that shrubs come in. I also just learned that people are using wire mesh trash cans from Dollar Tree. I am checking on their web site today to see if I can order some.

  9. I have very established hostas of about 15 years. I live in Utah. They do very well until about the end of July when it gets very hot. I read somewhere that they can be cut back like in the fall and they will grow back again full and beautiful in about 2-3 weeks. I wanted to make sure this was accurate before I cut them back. I have a family reunion the end of August that I would like the yard to look nice for.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      My hostas are dried out too! I cut my hostas back in the fall, when I’m cleaning up the leaves. I have never heard that they will come back in the same season. I think daylilies can be cut back in mid summer, and they will bloom again in the fall. The hostas need to completely die down in order for the plant to feed itself and come back the next year. To be on the safe side, I wouldn’t cut them back before your reunion.

  10. I HAD A FUN TIME READING ABOUT HOSTAS. I HAVE ONE LARGE ONE AT OUR HOME BUT AFTER READING YOUR BLOG POST I BELIEVE I WILL BE BUYING MORE FOR A MORE VIBRANT LOOK. THANK YOU FOR SHARING AND STAY SAFE.

  11. I love hostas because they are so easy to grow and if you don’t care for the look of the flower stems, you can cut them off without hurting the plant. They also make the perfect gift. I gave my daughter’s teacher a hosta called “School Mouse”; and when my cousin Sally moved into her new house, I gave her a hosta called “Mustang Sally”.

  12. I had no idea that the color of the leaves was a guide to sunlight tolerance! That is so cool! Thanks for sharing that. I live in the woods. Hostas are about all that grows here, haha! Good thing I love them!

  13. Mary Bollinger says:

    You said NOT to put hosts in the compost. Why?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Mary! I read that hosta leaves take a very long time to break down and are very resilient. They could actually survive in a compost pile. There is also a quick moving virus that spreads among hosta. It’s called Virus X. I don’t know much about it, but if your hostas happen to have this virus, you don’t want to add the leaves to your compost pile.

  14. Sue Dunlap says:

    I live in N. Alabama and Hostas are very popular here. I planted some last year on the east side of my house. It took them a little while to get going, but they did pretty well.
    It has taken them a long while to come up and some still haven’t. When walking in my neighborhood, I’ve noticed lots of thriving Hostas. Should I be concerned about mine??

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Sue…if they aren’t up by now, they probably didn’t make it. It’s important to let them completely die down in the fall, so they are fed for the next season. Over the years, I have lost hostas too. Sometimes they just don’t return. I don’t know why…or why some die and some don’t. I hope this helps!

  15. Thank you for an informative post. I have a lot of variegated hostas in my yard and I really like them. However, later in the summer they all get brown rimmed holes in them. I’ve never seen slugs around them. Is there another mold or virus that affects hostas that you know of?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Lauren…I am not sure about a mold or virus. I do know some hostas can get something called Virus X, but I don’t know anything about it. I have never seen slugs either…but I know they are there from the holes in the hosta leaves.

  16. I have used a product called Bobbex to deter deer. It lasts for a week and isn’t washed off with rain as long as there is no rain within 24 hours. It works great if you follow the directions.

  17. Steve Shaw says:

    Ann, Thank you for all the great information about hostas. I live in Atlanta Georgia and have one question that I have not been able to find an answer to. I have several well established hostas that are planted around a small pond in my backyard. Over the years the dirt around the pond has settled and I need to add about 12 inches of soil. Can I cover the hostas with that much dirt or should I dig them up and replant them after I have added the dirt? Thanks for your help. Yours, Steve

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Steve…I am not an expert, but I doubt the hostas would be able to find their way through a foot of topsoil. Since the hostas are well established, it would be a shame to lose them. To be on the safe said, I would dig them up, add the soil, and then replant. It sounds like a lot of work…good luck!

  18. That’s good to know, thank you so much!

  19. Hi Ann!

    Thanks so much for the great information, I’m a hosta lover myself. I do have a question: why should the leaves not be added to the compost pile?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Rebecca! Hosta leaves take a very long time to break down and are very resilient. They could actually survive in a compost pile. There is also a quick moving virus that spreads among hosta. It’s called Virus X. I don’t know much about it, but if your hostas happen to have this virus, you don’t want to add the leaves to your compost pile.

  20. For some reason I will always choose hostas before anything else. I love the leaves that have so many variations of color and seem to frill out. Layer after beautiful layer. I printed your booklet and saved what you just wrote. And I printed your baked bean recipe and your fruit dip which will be served by me at our picnic wedding. Thank you for all you share. Say Happy Mother’s Day to your mom. She will hear you as I will to my mom. And to you Ann.

  21. Yvonne Beaudreau Burkett says:

    Hi again, Ann. This is Yvonne from Southern California thanking you for your disappounting reply to my question about growing hostas in SoCal. We only get but maybe 2 nights of below freezing temperatures per winter. Sadly they will not be found in my garden.
    Thanks again,
    Hosta-less Yvonne

  22. Penny Niles says:

    Ann – I am with you! Just LOVE, LOVE and LOVE hostas. I put them in many places in my yard in AR. Now living in NM and can’t grow them here. I miss them! So easy and beautiful and VERY low maintenance. I found that ordering from some large or specialty garden catalogues permitted me to find many more species than in the local garden centers in my small town. What was fun was planting swaths of them with varying colors and sizes. They are just such interesting plants. Now as for slugs — We had tons and tons of pine trees in AR and they dropped tons of needles. Just LEAVE the needles (or put some there) in the hosta beds over the winter (or very very early spring) and you won’t have slugs. Pine needles cut up their little slimy bodies. The other sure thing to deter slugs for both hostas and canna’s plantings is to spread around “gum balls”. Gum trees dump hundreds of these “gum balls” that are round and very stickery. This is a serious good use for them rather than just raking them up. You won’t have a snail anywhere near your hostas if you do either of these two things! Hope this helps and I oh so miss my pretty hostas. Thanks Ann — loved seeing them!

  23. Yvonne Burkett says:

    Ann, love your landscaping! I don’t think I’ve seen hostas here in Southern California. Are we not able to grow them here? If so, I will be disappointed. 😔

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Yvonne…I’m honestly not sure. Hosta need a cold period where they die down and renew for the next growing season. It has to be at least below freezing for an extended period of time. Do you ever get below 30 degrees?

  24. Love those big white pavers edging your beds. Where did you find them?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Mildred…I got the flagstone at a local masonry business. It’s actually used for retaining walls and even fireplaces. I had it delivered and it came on a pallet. I hope this helps!

  25. I have quite a few hostas, , almost all started from one plant. I did give many away over the years, since they were all the same variety. Several years ago I started to expand my selection…so glad I did. So I have a nice variety now. Thanks for the information on preventing deer from eating them. They are my only threat….they eat the early shoots, and later, the flowers. Happy Gardening! ;)

  26. Smiling as I read this… Just this morning I spotted two small hostas popping back up in my flower bed off my deck !! But I confess…. I’ve never seen them grow as big as the ones in your pictures….thank you so much for the info on these gorgeous plants !!!!

  27. I would love to try some Hostas in a shady area in my backyard. We have a lot of rabbits. I think I’ll give it a try anyway. Maybe start out with one or two small ones and see how it goes.

  28. Judy Chastain says:

    I love hostas. When we lived in Western NY, I had some beauties. The ones I planted in MS are growing well. By next year, they should be much bigger. Thanks, Ann.

  29. Love the Hosta post. I just planted 6 new varieties with ferns and astilbe. Need to transplant some and now I know spring is when to do it.

  30. linda leugers says:

    I had beautiful hostas for 2 years this year they have not come back. what can I do ? should I dig up the area to see why or if I can find any signs of life. I did try to losen the top of the soil a very little bit

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Linda…I honestly don’t know why that happens but I have experienced the same thing. I had a beautiful row of hostas along the side of my house and they are almost all gone. I think it must just be poor growing conditions. Too much or too little water, high heat, too much sun. When that happens to me, I just start over.

    2. paula lewis says:

      I know what happened to your Hostas. I had divided and nursed mine along for several years and I had 42 big clumps of Hostas that were my pride and joy. One Spring they did not come back. It was it was voles. They are a small mammal that will run along the mole tunnels. Moles are carnivores that are looking for worms and beetle grubs. Voles however are plant eaters and they apparently really love Hosta roots. The voles just use the mole tunnels . To grow Hostas I have to get big nursery pots and cut the bottom out. Dig a big enough hole to put the nursery pot almost all the way into the ground, leaving just a bit above the ground level, then plant the the Hostas into the pot which is already in the ground. This will keep the voles from getting to the roots. They do not dig down, just straight ahead. I learned about this from the Goldsmith’s Garden Center in Audubon Park in Memphis.

      1. Ann Drake says:

        This is wonderful advice…thank you so much! By nursery pots do you mean basic plastic pots?

  31. I love Hostas, but it’s not the deer so much as slugs eat those faster than anything. Any suggestions for slugs?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I don’t get slugs every year but when I do, I sprinkle lime around. It seems to get rid of them but it might take a couple of applications.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply. I never thought of that, I will try it!

  32. Thank you for the info about Hostas. My backyard loses a little more sun every year due to neighbors trees. Hosts will be a nice change from dying grass. Thanks again~
    Nina

  33. Love hostas! I have a couple in pot ‘s and they are doing great. The only way you can keep the deer away is to put up a fence. There are some nice decorative ones I’ve seen in our neighborhood.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I think you are right Gloria…that was the opinion of almost everyone in my gardening group! I need to update the post. :)

  34. I love hostas, but unfortunately so do the deer that visit my yard. After many years of having hostas, last year the deer finally discovered them. It seems that with less and less land for them to graze on, they are coming into our neighborhood. I have tried everything, from spraying vinegar to soap shavings, and even bursts of water, but to no avail they still nibble away. If you have any other suggestions, they would be appreciated. Your hostas are gorgeous. Thanks for the lovely post!

  35. I love hostas and I plan to plant some more this season. Thanks for the tips. Diana

  36. Thank you for all the info on Hostas. I have them In my yard also and I am always amazed at how fast they grow when they start renewing in the spring. Mine need to be divided so badly but I’m afraid I’ve waited too long now. One thing I learned on here is that you can grow them in pots. I didn’t know that. Since they are shade loving plants can they be grown in pots indoors? I also would have never thought about cutting a few leaves to add to small flower arrangements. What a novel idea. Love your blog!

  37. Hostas . . .AKA Deer Candy!! any suggestions oh how to keep them safe from the 4 legged leaf eating machines?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I am not an expert on deer…but I’m going to ask in my gardening group and see if anyone else has some advice. I’ll report back!

  38. Sheila DelCharco says:

    Yes you have! Thank you for the thoroughness of this how-to!

  39. Carole Thomas says:

    Ann, this is great advice on Hostas, my favorite use of foliage under my trees. I mostly use pots, so have different varieties grouped together. My collection is small, but increases each year, and is an interesting little hobby. Thanks for this information. Your posts are always so interesting.

  40. You are right Ann, hostas are a wonderful plant because of being an easy-care plant. I started out with a few and now I have many and my son who is a landscaper sometimes brings me ones that he dug up when his customers want new landscaping. My only problem is the deer. Because we have a wooded area on our property and are more countryish we get many deer wandering around eating anything that they can, especially my hostas. My grandkids love when they are around at dinnertime and they can see the deer right outside our kitchen bow window, but Nana wishes they would just leave my plants alone. Sigh . . .
    Thanks for the ebook!

  41. Fern Trudeau says:

    This is a great article with loads of information for a lover of hostas like me. One quick question – why do we not add hosta leaves to the compost pile?

  42. Denise Warrick says:

    I love HOSTAS too. However I was too sick with cancer a few years ago and was not able to water them during a blazing hot and drie summer and I lost all of them. I think I am finally strong enough for some gardening this summer. I am looking forward to planting HOSTAS once again. Thanks for the info.

  43. I have hostas in my garden and wanted to thank you for all of the wonderful information. This is going directly into my gardening binder!! Thank you again.

  44. Paul’s Glory is a favorite, though I’ve never met a hosta I didn’t like. Why do you say to not add the leaf litter from the hosta bed to the compost pile? I put almost everything there, except weeds, which also go to a separate pile.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I’m not an expert on compost piles, but I was told that the hosta leaves take a long time to die and break down. They could actually survive in a compost pile which is not what you want. I hope this helps!

  45. JimmieDean Briley says:

    I love Hosta..I have lots and have shared with friends….

  46. Katharine Nielsen says:

    Ann,
    Glad you did this piece on hostas, as they are fabulous and fabulously easy! What you need to inform your “readers” about, however, is the critter that thinks hostas are their candies……the good old whitetail deer! They will decimate plantings of hostas unless you are vigilant about applying some sort of deer deterrent and applying it religiously. Nothing like hostas for dessert!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      When it comes to deer, I have no experience so I was hesitant to include anything. Thank you for your comment..we all appreciate the advice!

  47. I have just planted about 17 hostas around my house and down the road across from all my neighbors back yards.. It is open woods and i thought it would be nice to add some color.. I have Rose of Sharon that i did the same thing with about 2 years ago.. They are finally getting some width and height. Another year or two and everything should be gorgeous.. Thanks for the info, i will be buying more in the fall or next spring. Your the best.

  48. Thank you for this post Ann, on hostas….something to dream about as I sit here watching the snow pile up. I’m starting another hosta bed…I already have one…and appreciate the reminders. I cannot wait til spring finally arrives, for good! ;)

  49. Ann,

    We were just talking about our garden and wanting to add some Hostas in the shady area. This is awesome.

    First…we need to dig out of 14” of snow that fell on us in Minnesota yesterday. It is still snowing and more coming today.

    Thanks for letting me dream a bit.

  50. Josephine says:

    I love Hostas . I have 3 varieties now, one from my mother’s home, one from a plant swap, and one that I actually bought at a nursery. I am hoping to get some divisions from my MIL to add to my collection. We live the White Mountains of NH and the front of our house faces North, so we have shade loving plants there. Rhododendrons grow nice with hostas as well. Another old way to deal with slugs, is to fill a shallow bowl with beer, I show that to my husband and he was amazed that we had 10 slugs the night. Diatomaceous earth will also help.

  51. I love hostas and had them in all my homes but unfortunately the deer love them also.Living in Florida now, we do have a deer issue, it’s hard to have flowers or anything decorative in your landscaping.

  52. I love hostas but we live in the south so not sure if they would get enough shade. Thanks for sharing the information. Jean

  53. Robin in New Jersey says:

    Thank you for all this information. I can say from experience that hostas take care if themselves. We had them all over our yard and I loved them. The deer decided they did too and they chewed them all down to nothing. 😢 Now they are eating the bushes by my front door. I try to grow plants in planters on my deck, but it’s full sun there all day and they don’t do well in the heat of summer. Love your blog!☺

  54. Kelle Evans says:

    I lOVE hostas! I moved from a home with a lot of sun (grew over 300 antique roses) to a home with a lot of shade. We planted over 50 hostas and I just love them. There is an amazing nursery here in Oregon, Sebrite Gardens and I believe they have the largest variety of hostas in the U.S. The guys that run it are wonderful, friendly and knowledgeable. Here is their website if interested:http://www.sebrightgardens.com/hosta_visiting.aspx
    Hostas add such beauty to a shade garden.

  55. Jeanette Duke says:

    Ann, your home and yard is beautiful! We are getting ready to plant more hostas. The deer love the ones in the front yard so we are trying them in the back. Well, good luck to me as they probably will mow those down as well. 😘 Thanks for all this hosta info!

    1. I live in lower Michigan and have very good luck with hostas but occasionally I will have some that don’t show up the next year. They look great going into the fall but don’t show up come spring. Some are several years old. I have one that is at least 15 years old and has received minimum care that just thrives. Any thoughts?

      1. Ann Drake says:

        Hi Marie…the only thing I can think of is that for some reason, the leaves weren’t able to recharge for the next year’s growth. I’ve had it happen before as well with mature plants. I wish I could be more help!

  56. Your hostas are absolutely gorgeous!! Thanks so much for all the great information! Any chance you could do a post about daylilies in the future as well?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Hali…I will do a post when my daylilies are up and blooming. I don’t have too many plants but I can share what I know! Thanks so much.

  57. This is so right about hostas. I think they are one of the prettiest plants to grow and they show great. Pretty forgiving as long as soil is good and shaded. They are pretty with pink impatient s mixed in.