Once commonly referred to as Plantain Lily, this very popular herbaceous
perennial is grown for its beautiful, decorative, foliage rather for its flowers. It
is a very long lived and easy to grow. Hostas are available in hundreds of cultivars with
a wide range of colors, sizes and textures making them very valuable to the gardener or
landscaper. With proper care and some knowledge of their growing requirements anyone can
have a stunning collection of Hostas.
Hostas are shade loving plants and for best results should always be
planted in an area that is protected from hot afternoon sun. The best spot to plant
Hostas is one that receives some morning sun but becomes shaded by the middle of the day
before the sun gets to hot. Morning sun will help bring out leaf coloration, especially
the golden yellows. To much sun will cause the leaves to burn. There are
Hostas that are more sun tolerant than others, but
remember, ALL Hostas are shade plants.
Planting Hostas in Full Sun:
We are asked over and over again to suggest a Hosta for full sun.
The truth is, there are no Hostas for full sun..... why not just select a perennial
that loves the baking heat of full sun - there is no shortage of them. If you are
determined to plant Hostas in full sun the most important thing to remember is to make
sure they have adequate moisture available to prevent leaf scald. Hostas are heavy
drinkers, their large leaves absorb water quickly and require plenty of water. This
means if you plant them in hot afternoon sun you must be willing to water them frequently.
If you can keep up with their water demands the Hostas that are considered to be
sun tolerant often to wonderfully in full sun. Another tip - use plenty of mulch to help
conserve soil moisture and keep roots cool
Hostas are not terribly picky about soils but prefer a good, rich moisture
retentive soil that drains well. This type of soil rarely exists in our front yards
so you will need to add plenty of organic material such as compost and rotted manures. For
more information see our guide on soil amending.
We suggest feeding in early spring just as new growth begins to peak
through the ground with composted chicken manure and a hand full of bone meal.
Feed three to four times though out the season with a compost tea or fish
emulsion. Do not feed Hostas at least 6 weeks prior to the first frost this ensures
that any new growth has time to harden up before cold weather arrives.
Slugs and snails can be problem in the spring - especially during very wet
weather. We try not to use slug and snail baits since we have dogs, cats, and
chickens that we worry will eat the poisonous pellets. We combat the pests with
small cups of beer placed around the plants. They are attracted to the smell of the
beer and crawl in and drown. We also sprinkle dry sand around the plants creating a
barrier that the little slimy pest will not cross. The sand works very well but must
be replaced once it gets wet.
To learn about dividing Hostas and other perennials read our garden guide
to dividing perennials. Some
newer Hostas are patented and may not be propagated by any means what so ever until the
patent expires. The same is true with all patented plants.
If you plan to grow your Hostas in pots or containers we recommend using a
good high quality nursery type potting mix. The best mixes we have found incorporate
the following: composted bark 60% , peat moss 20% and 20% perlite. This same mix is
perfect for amending heavy clay soils. This soil mix is considered
"soiless" and will not have any nutrients in it so it is important that you feed
the plants regularly. Since the soil mix is also considered "sterile"
there are no micro-organisms available to help break down any organic fertilizers you may
add so we always add a shovel full of compost to the mix.