Hostas (Hosta spp.) are known for their solid green or variegated foliage that enhances shady spots where other plants have a hard time surviving. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, they are available as small plants that grow to just several inches and as larger varieties that grow as tall as 5 feet. Grown most commonly from tubers or sections of bare roots, new growth emerges above the soil two to four weeks after you plant the tubers.
Buying Hosta Tubers
You can buy a partially developed hosta plant in a tub that requires nothing more than transferring the plant, soil and all, into a prepared hole in the ground. These hostas take no time at all to settle in, and they provide instant foliage to an otherwise bare and troublesome shady spot. Bare roots or tubers are generally less expensive and may offer a broader range of choices when it comes to variety and coloring. Starting a hosta from a bare root involves slightly more work and a longer wait for foliage to appear.
Plan on planting bare root tubers immediately, as they can dry out quickly and may not recover. If you can't get them into the ground right away, keep them in a bucket of damp soil and plant them as soon as you can. Choose a well-drained area and dig a hole for the hosta that is just slightly deeper than the tuber's total length. Enrich the soil with plenty of organic matter in the form of aged compost or manure. Place the tuber root-end down in the hole and fill it with soil so that the tip of the tuber is visible.Water well until the soil appears damp but not enough so that the soil is saturated.
Watching Hosta Grow
Within several weeks, new growth appears in the form of small greenish nubs that protrude through the soil at the top of the hosta tuber. At this point, you may want to pull more soil up around the developing foliage, as long as it remains visible. When the first growth opens into leaves, the plant start manufacturing its own food from the available sunlight, and your plant is fully established and acclimated to its new home.
As hostas grow, you may want to separate mature plants into several smaller ones to distribute around your garden. You can accomplish this either in the spring or fall by digging the whole plant up and shaking some of the soil off. Use a sharp knife to cut carefully between two of the largest tubers and have a hole ready for each new plant. Follow the same procedure for planting the divided tubers that you did when you planted the original one. When the plants rejuvenate themselves the following season, new growth emerges from where the leaves died back for the winter.
- Ohio State University: Growing Hostas
- The National Gardening Association: Growing Hostas
- Easy to Grow Bulbs: Hosta Planting Guide
- University of Minnesota Extension: Hostas
- Today's Homeowner: How to Buy, Plant, and Grow Bare Root Perennials in Your Garden
- Colorado State University Extension: Hostas for Colorado Gardens
- The National Gardening Association: Hosta Tubers
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