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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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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.”
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.
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?