Hostas are perennial plants that provide attractive foliage from spring until frost. They are easy to grow, require little maintenance, and can live indefinitely. Every year they will increase in size, and beauty. Hostas rarely if ever need division, and achieve their best appearance when left undisturbed.
Hostas grow best in partial shade, and can tolerate very shady areas. Except for a few varieties they need protection from the heat of afternoon sun. 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. Too much sun will cause the leaves to burn. 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. If you can keep up with their water demands the Hostas that are considered to be sun tolerant often to great in full sun. Also use plenty of mulch to help conserve soil moisture and keep roots cool.
Hostas prefer loose well-drained soil, usually garden soil amended with compost or soil conditioners. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the current roots and to accommodate future growth. When in doubt dig 10-12 inches deep and about 18 inches in diameter. Form a mound of soil in the center of the hole and spread the roots over the mound, adjust the height of the mound to provide the proper planting depth. If roots are tangled they must be untangled. Planting depth is ½ to 1 inch from the top of the roots or crown of the plant. Do not plant too deep. The roots should be covered with soil and the place on the stem where the individual leaves branch off should be above the ground. Fill to ground level with amended soil. Check planting depth and make sure the roots remain covered after ground has settled. This is especially important shortly after planting and during the first winter after planting.
Keep well watered. Hostas are often referred to as being drought tolerant. To some extent that is true, especially for mature plants. Most hostas can survive quite well with the normal rainfall and only a little supplemental watering, but that doesn’t mean that they will grow well. If you want your hostas to grow well, have lush foliage, then watering is the best thing you can do. We recommend 1½ inch per week for hostas grown in part shade. Those in sunnier spots will need more water.
Application of fertilizer in the spring through early summer when the hostas are actively growing is beneficial. We recommend feeding with water-soluble fertilizer at one half strength or use as directed for continuous feeding. We also recommend that you do not fertilize in the fall.
To learn about dividing Hostas read our garden guide to Dividing Hosta
Mulch is an excellent way to make the most of your watering and to reduce weeds. It is important not to mulch too deep,especially right next to hostas. One to two inches of mulch is adequate and the mulch should be several inches away from the hosta crown and shoots. Mulching up to the stems is not good for the hostas.
If you plan to grow your Hostas in pots or containers we recommend using a good high quality nursery type potting mix. 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.
Trim damaged leaves and faded flower stalks. The spent flowers can be can be cut off as far down into the foliage as you can reach immediately after they have finished blooming.
You can allow the seed to mature and self-sow. You ’ll get new baby plants but understand they will not come true from seed and rarely look like the hybrid mother plant.
In the fall, after the foliage dies back for the winter, remove the old foliage. Although the foliage may be left in place until spring, we recommend removing hosta foliage in the fall. To help prevent pests and disease. Hosta foliage should not be composted. If needed, begin slug and snail control as hostas emerge in the spring.