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Start Your Hosta Garden Right: Planting & Care Guide for Lush Foliage

Updated: Feb 11

Have you been thinking about a Hosta Garden? Hostas are renowned for their lush foliage and resilience, making them a favorite among garden enthusiasts. To ensure your hostas thrive in your shade garden and showcase their full beauty, it's crucial to adopt effective care and maintenance practices. In this guide, we'll explore the best strategies to give your new hostas a great start and keep them healthy and vibrant throughout the growing season and for years to come.

Plant Hostas in Dappled Sun and Under Trees

Shady areas, including under trees, are ideal locations for your hosta garden. Shady areas protect your hostas from the scorching afternoon sun and can help retain moisture in the soil. 

You’ll want to avoid planting hostas under Black Walnut Trees. They produce a compound called juglone which poisons the ground, severely limiting what will grow beneath. 

You may hear that Maple Trees create “root competition” and your hostas won’t thrive. This has not been my experience. I’ve had hosta gardens under a huge Silver Maple tree for more than 20 years without a problem. I’ve even heard that Norway Maple Trees will poison the ground so your hostas won’t grow. I currently have a hosta garden with more than 40 varieties beneath a Norway Maple where grass didn’t grow. The grass wouldn’t grow because of the dense shade. The hostas are doing just fine. 

Keep in mind that dense shade from a Norway Maple and others will limit how much rain falls through the canopy. Making sure your hosta garden receives enough water is a top priority and we’ll talk more about that in a future chapter of this guide.  

While they thrive in areas with high-moisture areas, hostas also appreciate well-draining soil. Avoid boggy areas where water tends to collect. 

Proper Plant Spacing

When planting hostas, provide enough space between each plant to allow for growth and air circulation. When you buy new hostas, they’re often all the same or similar sizes.

However, pay close attention to their mature size and plant accordingly so they have room to grow. Imagine planing Sum and Substance, which grows to 5 feet, 60 inches wide based on its size in a 1-gallon or trade gallon pot where it might be 12-14 inches tall and 12 t0 24 inches wide. Plan ahead. 

Planting Hostas

Digging the Hole

Dig a hole that is slightly wider and no deeper than the root ball of the hosta. Ensure the hole is large enough to accommodate the roots. Make sure that the hole isn’t too deep. The hosta crown should be positioned right at ground level. We use an auger to drill holes and it’s easy to dig too deep. Drop in your hosta to check the depth and add back some soil if needed.

Amending Soil for Hostas

It’s a great idea to add some extra nutrition for your hosta when planting, to improve soil structure and fertility. You can incorporate organic matter such as compost or aged manure into the soil pulled up when you made the hole. At Hosta Heaven, we use Milorganite. It’s an organic, nitrogen-rich granular amendment. It delivers a ton of nutrition that gives your new hosta a great start in your hosta garden.    

Planting Potted Hostas

Gently remove the hosta from its container and carefully loosen the roots. If the roots are circling the bottom of the pot, you can be more aggressive, cutting into the circling roots with your pruner and teasing the roots out so they can grow down and out into their new home rather than continuing to circle. 

Backfilling and Firming:

Fill the hole with soil, gently tamping it down around the roots to eliminate any air pockets. Ensure the plant is securely positioned and upright. Avoid compacting the soil too firmly, as this can hinder water and air circulation.

Planting Bare-Root Hostas: 

Without the pot, planting is even easier. FIRST: Soak your bare-root hosta in water for about 60 minutes before planting. This will help it hydrate. Dig a much smaller hole and amend your soil. Hold the bare-root hosta over the center of your hole with the crown right at ground level. Backfill with soil, jiggling the bare-root hosta to help the soil settle within and around the roots. 

Watering Thoroughly:

After planting, thoroughly water the hosta to settle the soil around the roots and provide initial hydration. Ensure the entire root zone is adequately moistened. This helps the hosta establish itself in its new location and reduces transplant shock.

Mulching Your Hostas: 

Mulching your hostas helps retain moisture but also suppresses weeds. However, it's essential to be mindful of potential pest issues. Mulch and plant debris can serve as hiding places for pests such as slugs and snails. When spreading mulch, take care to keep it away from the hosta legs (petioles). At Hosta Heaven, we like to spread mulch only to the edge of the plant’s canopy. That is, just to the edge of the hosta leaves so we don’t promote slugs or crown rot with mulch that may retain too much moisture when it’s particularly wet. Balancing the benefits of mulching with pest prevention is important to maintaining a healthy and thriving hosta garden.

There you have it. Hosta Heaven’s best practices for starting your hosta garden. Join us in the coming days and weeks as we address many other considerations for an amazing hosta garden. 

Additional Guide Segments coming soon.

Start Your Hosta Garden Right: Planting & Care Guide for Lush Foliage

Start Your Hosta Garden Right: Watering Guide

Start Your Hosta Garden Right: Fertilization Best Practices

Start Your Hosta Garden Right: Blooms or No Blooms

Start Your Hosta Garden Right: Best Practices for Care and Maintenance in the Hosta Garden

Start Your Hosta Garden Right: Contrast in the Hosta Garden to Make Your Hostas Shine 

Start Your Hosta Garden Right: Complementing the Hostas in Your Garden with Art, Craft and Sculpture

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