The large, coarse leaves of most hostas tend to break up the monotony found in many landscape designs. With various sizes, colors, light requirements, foliage shapes and textures, it is possible to fit an easy-to-grow hosta into almost any landscape situation.
When to Plant
Hostas can be planted in this area from March through November.
Where to Plant
Plant hostas where the proper shade conditions exist. Blues lose their color in sun, so they look their best with at least 50% shade. Golds tolerate sun quite well but should be shaded from the mid-day sun. Most hostas prefer dappled shade throughout the day. The soil should drain well and still be able to retain moisture.
How to Plant
Dig bed for hostas 12 to 18 inches deep. Make a soil mixture of one third each existing soil, fine pine bark and organic matter such as peat moss, dehydrated manure or garden compost. Loosen root system using a garden cultivator and set plant in bed so top of root ball is even with or slightly higher than garden soil level. A handful of an organic fertilizer such as Plant-tone may be added to the backfill. Firm the plant in and water slowly and thoroughly until the water puddles around the plant. When water has soaked in , a mulch of shredded hardwood or pine bark 1 to 2 inches deep should be applied.
Water is the most important requirement for hostas, especially the first year or two after planting. We suggest 3 to 5 gallons per week per plant if there is not sufficient rainfall. After the first 2 years, hostas have developed good root systems, and can withstand considerable drought. Hostas can thrive amazingly well with no further fertilizer, but an occasional side dressing of slow-release organic fertilizer in midsummer proves to be quite rewarding. In autumn, after foliage has died from frosts, the leaves should be trimmed off.
The main problem with hostas is slugs and snails. These pests prefer moist, dark areas, feeding mostly on the soft, new, immature growth. Sanitation and a proper watering program are quite effective in controlling them.
Remove debris that provides hiding places and water only in the morning so plants are dry at sunset. Slug bait is also very effective in providing control. Manufacturers’ instructions and recommendations should always be followed with these products.
Many of the new varieties of hostas are being bred for more pest resistance. Also, it’s nice to know that the older a plant gets, the more pest resistant it becomes.
Now that you know how to plant and maintain your hostas, sit back and watch them grow.
by Behnke Staff
Top photos: at Chanticleer Garden (by Susan Harris). Other photos by Larry Hurley.