Home gardeners who want a shade-tolerant, attractive plant that will out-compete weeds should look no further than a hosta. Hardy and easy to grow, hostas are cultivated primarily for their attractive foliage. Other than aesthetics, leaving dead leaves on the hosta plant offers no benefits or drawbacks.
To Trim Or Not To Trim?
Hosta leaves gradually turn yellow as they age. They can also be damaged by hail or disease. Hostas damaged by an early-season hailstorm will produce new growth, so ragged leaves should be removed from the plant. Later in the season, whether you trim them depends on your own preference. Although it will not hurt the plant to leave dead leaves alone, trimming them off will improve a hosta's overall appearance -- unless all of them are damaged, in which case you may just have to live with some dead foliage until the following spring. If you do trim the leaves, discard them well away from the plant so that any disease that might have contributed to their demise isn't allowed to reinfect the plant.
Trimming the Flowers
Hostas produce tall, slender flower stalks topped with small blooms. Many are showy and fragrant, while others are rather insignificant, depending on the species and cultivar. Remove the flower stalks after they have wilted, as this will direct the plant's energy to more vigorous growth rather than producing seeds. Some home gardeners prefer to remove the flowers as soon as they start sprouting to maintain the unbroken profile of the foliage.
Climate and Culture
Hostas love cool, moist climates. They thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8, according to the University of Vermont. Although they don't like hot, dry areas, they will tolerate more sun in cooler, northern climates if the soil is kept consistently moist. They will grow in full shade, but many develop more vibrant colors and variegation if they are exposed to at least partial sunlight. All hostas need some protection from the afternoon sun, however, according to Clemson Cooperative Extension.
Uses for Hostas
Hostas are the go-to bedding plant for shady areas, but the striking plants look equally attractive when used in containers. In fact, they are an excellent plant for containers on a porch or deck shaded by a roof. Containers with hostas should have drainage holes in the base and be watered enough so the soil is kept moist. Hostas are also excellent for hiding fading bulb foliage and for use in cut flower arrangements.
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