Hostas

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Hostas

Hosta Plant
Pixabay

With hundreds of combinations of leaf color, shape, size, and texture, there are endless varieties of hostas for gardeners to choose from. Here’s how to grow hostas in your garden!

The perennial hosta, sometimes called the plantain lily, is reliable and very easy to grow. It is long-lived and may even outlive the gardener.

Hostas prefer well-drained soils amended with organic matter, such as compost or rotted animal manure. 

Planting

  • Buy hostas as dormant, bare root divisions or potted plants in the spring. 
  • Set the plants with the crown even with the surrounding soil and the growing tips visible at the soil surface. 
  • If buying potted hostas, plant them at the same soil level as in the pot. 
  • Gently dampen the soil around the plants and water until soil is moist.

Hosta flowers
Hosta flowers are much-loved by bees and, occasionally, hummingbirds.

Care

  • Apply a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer after planting or when growth emerges in the spring. 
  • Keep the soil moist but not wet.
  • Place mulch around the plants to help retain moisture. 
  • Remove flower stalks after bloom to encourage new growth.
  • Clean up around the plants and remove brown leaves in the fall to help control diseases and slugs.
  • Transplanting and dividing is best done in early spring when the leaves just begin to emerge.

Pests/Diseases

  • Slugs and snails:  If you see irregular holes along the leaf’s edges or entire leaves chewed off at the stem nocturnal slugs may be the culprit. Look for shiny slime trails on the leaves or on the ground around the plants.
  • Deer: It’s true. Deer love hosta. To discourage deer, use fencing or motion-sensitive sprinklers. Speak to your local garden center about odor-based sprays and deer repellents; the deer will taste the distasteful repellent first. Here’s an example.
  • Rabbits: If you see clean-cut chew marks on young hosta stems and leaves you may have rabbits in your garden. Look for dropped leaves and rabbit droppings on the ground and around the plants.

A hosta variety with white-lined foliage.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

  • Young hosta leaves are edible. Known as urui in Japan, they’re commonly boiled, fried in tempura, or eaten raw. The flavor is similar to lettuce and asparagus
  • If you wish to remove your hostas, cut off the leaves to the ground and then dig out the crown located just below ground level. Pour vinegar or boiling water over the plant. If you have a larger area of hostas that you want to remove, cut the leaves off, remove the crowns and then cover the area with black plastic for the rest of the growing season.

Planting Times

Hostas Characteristics

Botanical Name

Hosta spp.

Plant Type Shrub
Sun Exposure Shade
Soil Type
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Blue, Purple, White
Hardiness Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Special Features