When Is the Best Time To Plant Hostas?

Native to Northeast Asia, hostas have become popular with gardeners the world over. And everyone is asking: when is the best time to plant hostas?

In this article, we’ll answer that question and many more!

First of all, why hostas? Not only are there a vast range of cultivars to choose from, with leaves in all shades from acid yellow to green, as well as teal and even dusky blues, that are sometimes variegated or streaked with cream or gold, they can also have ruffled, smooth or distinctively ribbed foliage.

Though many also produce small stalks of trumpet-shaped lavender and white flowers each summer, they’re typically chosen for their magnificent foliage which contrasts beautifully with brighter blossoms in your garden, giving a lovely, peaceful backdrop to all the pinks, reds, oranges and yellows.

When is the best time to plant hostas?

Though you can actually plant hostas anytime from early spring to late summer, and right up to 30 days before the first frost in fall, spring is still the best time to get them in the ground.

In springtime, the roots grow vigorously – which will give your hostas a good, solid start in their new home. Hosta roots typically also have a growth spurt in late summer after the warmest temperatures of the season have passed.

It’s best to avoid planting hostas in mid-summer when temperatures are high and the soil is often dry due to little rainfall. But if you must, you can reduce the stress on the plant by keeping the plant shaded from afternoon sun and keeping the soil moist.

When it comes to watering and feeding, remember to keep your hosta watered throughout the hot months; you can apply a slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer in spring which will continue to work through the summer. For optimum results, add compost over the bed each fall to nourish the plants through the winter.

How to Divide Hostas?

Hostas are also popular because they’re so easy to pass along and share with friends and family. You can divide the plants twice every year. In the spring, you can divide your hostas once their eyes are popping up and before the leaves unfurl. And in the autumn, divide them once the weather turns cool as they begin to grow dormant.

Remember to water well the day before you divide your plants, or divide them after a plentiful rainfall.

While the most patient gardeners can cut the plant apart with a knife, you could also use a garden spade to try to slice as few eyes and retain as many roots as you can.

Before replanting your divided hostas, add some compost to the hole. Plant them at the same depth as before and be sure to soak them well with water.

Where should I plant hostas?

green hostas

When choosing a site for hosta, it’s best to match the plants to the conditions you have in your garden. While most thrive in moist soil with light to medium shade, you should remember that while hostas are shade-tolerant, they are not necessarily shade-loving. For example, blue-leaved hostas flourish in light shade and will bleach to green with too much direct sun, while yellow-leaved ones prefer some sun.

Though the green-leaved varieties are the most shade tolerant, most species still need protection from too much direct sunshine, especially hot afternoon sun when temperatures can be high.

Variegated varieties, especially those with a lot of white in the leaves, can burn very easily if placed in a sunny spot.  Try to choose a site with morning sun that provides enough light for the foliage and flowers to develop. Afternoon sun is too harsh, and will result in yellowed leaves and possibly loss of the plant.

Try planting hostas as accents under trees or in the shade of a fence or border. They also prefer sheltered locations – so avoid exposed, windy areas of the garden. Even in the darkest recesses between buildings, narrow passageways, or under carports, hostas can still grow and thrive if the soil is rich and moist.

You should also consider the size of the varietal when deciding on its location. For example, miniature types like ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ or ‘Pandoras Box’ are a good choice in tight spaces, rock gardens, or for container plantings.

Hosta can be grown throughout hardiness zones 3 to 9, as they need as little as 30 days of cold temperatures for their dormant period. So, when the ground begins to warm up, hostas are ready to unfurl their tender new shoots.

Companion Planting

Because they can co-exist with a variety of other plants, there are many places you can include hostas in your landscape: they would look lovely mixed with ferns, wildflowers, and shade perennials on the north side of a house or under the canopy of large trees. Use medium-sized varieties as groundcovers in front of flowering shrubs or as part of massed plantings with a mix of leaf colors and shapes.

Because they emerge late, you can plant your hostas alongside spring-flowering bulbs or wildflowers. As the early bloomers die away, the newly emerging hosta leaves will hide the fading blossoms from sight. Snowdrops, miniature daffodils, or winter aconites are bulb-plants that also pair well with hostas.

Try to combine some of the more spectacular foliages with sedge grasses or ferns, but take care not too include too many gold tones, or too many different shades – this can detract from the overall balance. You could also pair your hostas with other types of perennial foliage such as lungworts or wild gingers.

What is the best soil for growing hostas?

Hosta prefer well-drained soil that is slightly acidic – ideally the pH level should be about 6.5 but you can grow hostas in slightly alkaline soil as well; be sure to work plenty of organic matter into the bed.

Because hostas thrive in moist, rich soils, they’re ideal for planting in a bog garden – but they should not be treated as an aquatic plant.

Hostas like fertile, loamy soils but can tolerate sandy soil or heavy clay, if it has been improved with the addition of garden compost or well-rotted manure to offer better drainage. Hostas with thicker, waxier leaves are slightly more drought tolerant but overallv, hostas are not really suitable for very dry soils.

What is the ideal temperature for planting hostas?

Hostas aren’t terribly fussy about temperature or humidity. It’s best to plant them in the spring when the weather is warming and humid so that they establish themselves quickly and grow strong.

And though they can grow in a wide range of climates, it’s best to plant them in a location that is protected from strong winds.

Hostas are among the most adaptable perennials and can establish themselves in temperate areas throughout Europe and North America. Your hostas need a short period of cold weather, at the onset of which they’ll turn a pleasing yellow and then go dormant. But insufficient winter chill and dry air, such as in western deserts, will prevent your hostas from following their typical growth pattern.

So, to sum it all up: when is the best time to plant hostas? Anytime – except during the peak of summer. So get out there and see how many hosta varieties you can include in your landscape.