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Growing Hostas: Beautiful Foliage

Growing Hostas - Beautiful Foliage
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Growing HostasHostas are one of my favorite plants, but it wasn't always that way. At one time I actually gave away hostas that I found in my backyard when we bought our first home! I think we go through stages as gardeners, and the first stage is to want as many colors and blooms as possible in our landscape. Then, as we become more "mature" gardeners we start developing an appreciation for foliage, and other plant characteristics.

The only hostas I had really seen when I first started gardening were often ragged looking and always had the flower stalk attached after the blooms were long gone. I learned that hostas are a VERY attractive plant to slugs, but that with a few eggshells around them early in the year and a practice of keeping the ground around them free of debris they don't have to look that way!

Hostas will grow in deeper shade, but they really do their best with about 6 hours of sun per day. Choose the blue-leafed hostas if you have to locate them in less sunlight. They do better with more shade. If you want to put them in a sunny spot choose the yellow or whiter leafed varieties. Hostas are great for beds where you have spring bulbs and your early blooming perennials. After they are finished, the hosta leaves will really take off and cover those spaces. Consider planting them with the beautiful blooms of impatiens or begonias as well.

Work compost into the soil where you are planting hostas. They grow from a "rhizome", like irises do, but much easier to grow! IF you are in an area where slugs are not a problem, perhaps your heat is dry, then use mulch on the hostas to keep them moist. You will want to keep them out of the direct sunlight in very hot climates. I have one spot under a tree in the front that I can mulch, but in the back I can't or the slugs would hide and eat away at night.

If your hosta doesn't do well in one spot then try another! They transplant very easily. Dig under and around the roots, then prepare a hole bigger than the rhizomes, adding some compost and water to the hole before putting in the hostas. Cover and pat down the soil, then water again. Mulch if you are going to do that.

Hostas die back each year-they get very mushy at the first frost-so in the fall as soon as you get a very light frost, cut them back-it's much easier to do this then clean them up in the spring. You can divide your plants in the spring or late summer. Dig up the hosta and divide the clumps in half or if they are large, into several sections. Use a sharp knife if need be. Replant as I instructed for transplanting, but leave off the mulch until they start growing fairly well. You may find that they will not bloom the first year after transplanting but they will still grow foliage.

Growing Hostas

A few more tips: Water in the mornings so they are not damp at night. If you mulch, only pack it about one inch deep. Hostas only need a little bit of fertilizing. A slow released type in the spring is usually good enough.

In warm climates: Hostas generally need a cold period to do their best, but if you try a variety such as Royal Standard, Honeybells, H. Plantagiven or Fragrant Bouquet, you may have a better chance at doing well with them. Remember, plant them out of direct sun and mulch in warm climates.

Hostas can also be grown in a container! Use a soil mix made for containers-not soil out of the garden. Make sure there is good drainage and apply the same location tips as I mentioned above. You can store your container hostas in an garage or unheated porch for the winter, or dig a large hole and store it in the ground until spring, then dig it up and replant in the container. Be sure to mark the spot well where you planted it!

Hostas are wonderful additions to every garden. Don't think of them as a boring plant, or one to stick alone under the shade of a tree. Mix them with color, try new varieties and don't be afraid to move them or try new things! Their foliage can add texture and character to landscapes.

Image: Wikimedia.org

 

About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.

 
 
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