Hostas are a favorite of avid and amateur gardeners for their stylish appearance and ease of care in almost any climate. Though they're primarily thought of as greenery, some hostas produce blooms in summer and early fall and might even attract hummingbirds. With the right combination of water and sunlight, hostas can thrive for years and even be propagated throughout your yard.
Planting and maintaining a thriving hosta is not complicated. Plant it in a spot with rich soil and partial sunlight. Water the soil around the hosta, and then regularly check to ensure it stays moist, but not wet. Each spring, consider spreading a slow-release fertilizer to boost the health overall health of your plants. At the end of summer, remove flower stalks to encourage new growth next year and snap off any brown leaves to deter pests and disease.
Hostas need to be divided every three to four years in order to stay healthy and thriving. If you notice the middle of your hosta is dying and new shoots are only forming around the edges of the plant, it is time to propagate it. You can divide a hosta at any time of year, but if you do so during the summer, prepare to water it more to ensure survival. To propagate your hosta, you'll need a garden spade or fork and a dull knife to help split the root structure. Make sure the soil is damp, and then dig the plant out and place it on a tarp. Use your knife or shovel to split the roots into halves or thirds, then replant the initial hosta and rehome the divided portion.
The amount of water your plants require depends on when you plant them and where you live. Hostas planted later in the season require more water to combat the summer heat. In general, plan to water your plants every three to four days in their first year if they do not receive any natural rainfall. A simple touch of the soil should help you determine if you need to grab the watering can.
Hostas do not require much sunlight to thrive. Experienced green thumbs recommend planting them in areas that receive partial sun, but they can also thrive in shady locations. The large leaves make it difficult for the plant to survive in full sun, but if you water on a regular basis and fertilize the soil, you could succeed in keeping your plant alive in a sunny spot. This versatility is one reason that gardeners love hostas.
Hostas do not require a large hole. If you are planting divided plants, you will want the crown of the plant to be even with the soil around it. You should easily be able to see any growing tips at the surface. If you are planting a potted hosta, dig the hole to match the size of the pot and plop the plant evenly into the soil.
Hostas can do well in many types of soil, as long as they receive regular water and organic fertilizer. That said, they will thrive the best in fertile soil with organic matter. Mulch is a great way to introduce nutrients into the soil around a hosta.
Unfortunately, hostas are attractive to several common pests. Small, irregular holes around the edges of leaves indicate that snails or slugs may be enjoying your plant. Plucking the brown leaves off is a great way to deter future visitors. Deer and rabbits also enjoy munching on the inviting leaves of this plant. Odor-based sprays are a great repellent, as the unpleasant scent will deter animals without harming them or the plant. A motion-sensitive sprinkler system is another way to ward off hungry predators that don't enjoy getting a shower with their meal.
Hostas are most susceptible to fungal diseases during the summer or late spring months when the weather is warm and wet. The most common problem is anthracnose, which can be spotted by large, irregular spots on the leaves of the plant. The spots will eventually fall away, causing the leaves to look torn or eaten. The best way to prevent anthracnose is by watering your hostas around the roots so the leaves don't get wet.
In general, hostas do not require dedicated nutrients, and most plants will grow for years without any special attention. However, the introduction of organic matter such as mulch or the use of regular slow-release fertilizer will help produce healthier and larger hosta plants. Introducing nutrients into the soil can help embellish the appearance of most garden plants.
It is usually best to plant hostas in the spring so they have time to root before winter arrives. You can purchase them potted from a greenhouse or propagate them from a friend or neighbor with settled plants. If you choose to plant during the summer months, you will need to water them heavily.
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