Updated/Fact-Chacked on August 3, 2021 by John
In this article, we are going to cover hosta maintenance and answer some of the common problems people ask us.
We previously outlined how hostas are shade loving plants that thrive in damp, well-drained soil. Most good garden compost like John Innes Multipurpose will keep your hostas well fed. You can also use a biodegradable mulch in spring for extra water retention and increase the the soils organic matter. Wood chippings or manure for example will breakdown over the summer months and provide more nutrients.
Hostas and Winter
Hostas do not require deadheading in autumn as the flowers will just drop off, you can cut back the stalks if you wish to preserve some of the plants energy.
Hosta foliage will die back during winter months while the roots remain dormant. New leaves will appear the following spring, hardy as ever. If you suddenly get a spring cold snap, consider using a plant frost protector to stop the leaves getting damaged – a handful of plain straw would suffice.
Hosta Maintenance FAQs
How do you trim hostas for winter?
You don’t need to trim back your hosta, just leave them and wait until next spring to grow back.
Why do hostas turn yellow?
Hosta leaves can turn yellow for a variety of reasons. The common cause is too much direct sunlight and the leaves are getting scorched. If this happens you should be them to a shadier part of your garden.
The second cause of yellowing leaves is attack from a fungus like crown rot or hosta virus x.
If this is the case, the leaves will turn yellow/brown and appear to have spots, see image below for identification purposes. If this happens your hosta cannot be saved.
Why didn’t my hostas come back?
If they have not grown back it is likely they are just late, it’s very difficult to kill off a hosta so just be patient.
Should I deadhead hostas?
No the flowers will drop off naturally, but you can trim back the stem.
How do you keep hostas in pots over winter?
Once you have planted your hosta in a pot just leave it alone over winter and wait until spring for it to come back to life. You do not need to do anything over winter, except maybe get some feet for you pot if you get a hard frost.
How do you look after hostas?
Plant them, water and forget…they are easy to grow!
Why are my hostas so small?
You may have bought a small hosta variety. They also take a few years to grow to their full potential size.
If you have had your hosta for years and think the plant is shrinking, you could be experiencing any of these problems:
-Competing roots taking away your hosta’s nutrients
– The PH of you soil may have changed dramatically
– You may had had a warmer winter, hostas like a cold winter to allow the to grow well in spring
-You have had an exceptionally dry spring and summer
When can I divide and transplant hostas?
The best time to divide your hostas is spring or autumn (September to the end of October).
How do you divide a hosta?
Hosta are clumping plants, so can easily be divided. Simple dig up the entire plant and divided it by cutting through the clump with a knife or use a spade. You will see the entire system is made up of individual plants so you are just separating them.
How often should you divide a hosta?
It is advised to divide your hostas every 3-4 years or when you think they are getting too big for the space.
Can I cut hostas back in summer?
If you want to reduce the size of your hosta, it’s best to divide it (see above) in autumn rather than cutting back the foliage.
What happens if you plant hostas too close together?
If you planted them too close together, they will likely grow into one large clump. Don’t worry they can be divided and moved later on.
Do hostas come through mulch?
Yes hostas can easily grow through your mulch, this will also help with drainage too.
How do you keep hostas from getting too big?
You have to buy a variety that does not grow too big or divide the hosta once it has outgrown your space.
How do I protect my hostas from snails and slugs?
Snails and slugs love hosta leaves and they can completely eat the foliage. Here’s a picture of my friend’s hosta I took recently.
You will need to experiment with some slug and snail defense. I have recently been experimenting with copper tape, but have not found it to work. I would try some slug/snail pellets.
What eats holes in hostas?
Slugs and snails mainly, but large mammals like hosta leaves too.
How do you perk up hostas?
If they are drooping, it may be because you have had very dry weather, give the plants a good water. For an extra boost, you could give the plant some vitamin B1 by adding a few drops into you watering can – this acts as a root stimulant.
How do you keep hostas healthy?
Hostas are easy to maintain, just use a good compost, mulch for drainage and water regularly.
What do you do with hostas before winter?
Nothing, they will be fine
Does it hurt to cut the flowers off hostas?
No, you can cut some flowers of a hosta for an indoor vase. Cut a few when two buds have opened, the other buds will then open indoors. Don’t remove them all though, save some for the bees!
Should I let my hostas flower?
Yes of course, this is the best part.
How often should you water newly planted hostas?
I would water a newly planted hosta everyday in spring/summer.
Can you cut back hostas too early?
Why did my white hosta turn green?
This is likely to be a viridescent colour change and due to the hosta variety.
Why do my hostas keep dying?
This would be very unusual, it is likely that your soil is very poor.
Are eggshells good for hostas?
Eggshells can be used to protect your hostas from slugs and snails as they don’t like crawling over the sharp edges.
What causes brown tips on hostas?
Hosta leaves can brown on the tips when they have not had enough water.
Can I put river rock around hostas?
Why do hostas lose their variegation?
Many hosta will lose this as the summer moves to autumn, if this is happening too early the soil could be too dry
Hostas and Nutrition
Do hosta plants like coffee grounds?
Yes hosta plants will do well with coffee grounds being added to the soil, but they are best composted first.
Is Magnesium Good for hostas?
Yes hostas love magnesium to help them thrive
How often should I water hostas?
Hostas are very hardy and watering them once per week will be fine. If you soil has been well prepared the water should not drain away too quickly.
Can you water hostas too much?
The answer is yes, but you would need to literally plant them in a pond to kill them off.
What does Epsom salt do for hostas?
Epsom salt is full of minerals and nutrients like magnesium sulfate, phosphorous and nitrogen and helpful for hosta plant life and the production of chlorophyll. Epsom salts can give your hosta a new lease of life producing stronger colours and larger foliage.
Do hostas like bone meal?
Yes hostas will do well with the extra nutrients like phosphorous and calcium.
John Green is a 46-year-old graphic designer living in Durham. John is RHS level 3 certified and owns an allotment in Durham.