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Planting Hostas

Hostas are hardy in zones 3 to 9, or from Canada to northern Florida. To survive, hostas must go dormant and experience temperatures near freezing. They need over 600 hours (about 28 days) of temperatures below 40F to satisfy their dormancy requirements. In zones where unable to go dormant, they will survive for a period of time, but eventually die. Refrigerating through the winter is not recommended unless your refrigerator is not a frost free. Frost free refrigerators removes the moisture from plants.

Hostas prefer rich (nutrients and organic matter), moist, well drained soil, but once established they can survive dry spells and require little care. To support the maximum growth of their large, soft leaves, hostas need plenty of moisture during the growing season . If the weather is very hot, the plants are in sun, or subject to root competition from trees and shrubs, deep watering will ensure good root development and leaf growth. Burnt leaf tips or drooping leaves may be symptoms of inadequate water.

Dig a hole about twice as wide as the plant roots and set aside that dirt in a wheelbarrow or on a plastic tarp. Check the depth of the planting hole from time to time as you dig, the crown or base of the plant should lie at or just below the soil line. When you have reached the appropriate depth, place the hosta in the hole and fill the hole. Tamp the soil down gently, mulch and water. For more planting information, click here.

Eyes or shoots emerge from the crown. The amount and type of shade, placement and your geographical area will affect the performance of hostas. Hostas are rather hardy and finding the best habitat for your hostas - the right combination of shade and sun, without making them compete with your trees for water and nutrients can be achieved. Just remember - if the first choice is not the right place, try moving them to a new location. Hostas are successfully grown in all but the semitropical and extremely frigid regions, so do not be afraid to experiment in placing your hostas.

A common problem is planting young hostas too close together. Anticipate that most hostas need five years to reach their mature sizes, and they prefer not to be crowded. Unless you are using them for borders, allow enough room for their full beauty.

Hostas can out-live their owners and increase fairly rapidly. Anticipate a few years for new hostas to reach full size, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Hostas prefer areas that are partly shaded or shaded. Some cultivars are sun-tolerant, but all do best if they receive shade in the afternoon.

Sun grown hosta eyes will multiply faster, however leaves will be lighter and may scorch (this is not detrimental except to appearance). With more shade, leaves will be more luxuriant, but fewer leaves will be produced. Northern zone hostas should be mulched with a layer of finely shredded organic material to prevent winter heaving. Mulch retains moisture and adds nutrients, but provides a hiding place for slugs and voles.

If the leaf centers have holes, slugs may be present. Applying a slug bait in early spring will help reduce the slug population. When plants are firmly established, removing the mulch helps eliminate the slug problem. In early winter, after hostas enter dormancy, cut old foliage to reduce insect and health issues. Especially in southern zones, too much water in the winter may lead to rot. If planted in poorly drained soils, fungal pathogens may cause either crown or root rot. Removing all of the mulch around hostas, leaving the ground bare for the winter months reduces the chance of fungal pathogens and slugs, plus decreases the ground temperature. Re-mulching is often recommended in early spring, except when voles are a common problem.