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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hosta queries answered

My friend Janet had some Hosta queries for me and I thought I'd answer them here.

Janet said:
I need help on digging up and transplanting hostas. Actually, I am digging up the ones in the lily bed to give to a friend. How deep do I need to dig, should I make sure there is dirt around the roots? Mom says wrap in wet newspaper. Should I suggest to  plant them in shade or sunlight? If some of the leaves look like bugs may have eaten them, should I skip digging up that hosta?

Slugs are going to eat Hosta. It's one of their favorites. There are easy, inexpensive things you can do to stop this, however. You can surround each plant with dried, crushed up eggshells...that keeps the slugs away, believe it or not.
 
Hostas are as tenacious as dandelions, but far more desirable, in my opinion. They are not the fragile plant some people believe them to be. If you have a very large clump of Hosta you can use a shovel and slice it right down the middle. No, this won't hurt it at all. In fact, it will help maintain a better, healthier Hosta if you divide them every few years.

How deep to go in digging them up is up to you. Hostas tend to dig themselves into the soil all on their own. That is to say, they literally pull themselves deeper into the soil. Maybe this is a defense mechanism to ensure they survive in harsh weather. Who knows? I just know that one time I had placed some Hosta plants to the side in some bark mulch and then forgot about them. Weeks later they had planted themselves to the spot and I had to dig them up all over again!

You can dig as deep as a foot and will probably find some Hosta roots. Do you have to dig this deep? No, unless you don't want them coming back. Very rarely have I dug a Hosta out where it did NOT grow back in a year or two.I obviously had left some root behind and they promptly started growing again. See the dandelion comparison now? digging 6-8 inches down is good enough most times and you need not worry about having a huge amount of soil with it. The roots usually hold in the soil very well without you doing much.

Unless the Hosta is going to be out of the ground for an excessive amount of time, it really should be all right without wet newspaper or anything. You can dig them up and leave them un-planted for over a week with no worries of having them wilt or dry out. They are super resistant because of their fleshy root system. To be safe spritz them every few days with the hose if it is very hot out or if the planting will take a bit longer for it to happen. The resilient Hosta will be safe until they can be planted. 

Hostas do great in full shade, but I find that most Hostas do as well in sun. Some newer cultivars expressively like shade. Their colors may fade a bit in full sun. Others do fine in sun with no fading.To be safe, try to plant Hosta where it will get morning sun and get some shade for part of the day, if no full shade is available.

I hope this helps all you Hosta dividers. T'is the season for it after all!

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