How to Grow Hostas in Your Yard or Garden
By: Julie Day
Hostas are a staple of shady, perennial gardens and are grown primarily for their lush foliage. When properly planted, they’re fairly low-maintenance plants that make great ground cover. Hostas are also very easy to divide and spread, making them a cost-effective solution for large areas of your yard.
Here’s what you need to know to grow hostas in your yard or garden.
Hostas are plants native to China, Japan, and Korea; though they’ve been grown in the U.S. since the middle of the 1800s. Hostas are an herbaceous perennial that grows in low, widely arching clumps whose tops die down for the winter.
Thanks to extensive hybridizing, there are thousands of hostas available to choose from, with foliage colors ranging from deep blue-green to glowing white variegated forms, and sizes ranging from the 6” ‘Tiny Tears’ to the giant 6’ wide ‘Sum and Substance.’
When choosing hostas for your yard or garden, it’s important to learn the growing habits and requirements of that particular variety. Some hostas need more room or sun than others. Some varieties of hostas are early sprouters that can easily be damaged by cold northern springs while others struggle in Southern heat.
Hosta Growing Conditions
- Hardiness: Grow in planting zones 3-8. Hostas need about two months of near-freezing temperatures each winter; and they do not like extreme heat.
- Light: Morning sun with afternoon shade is generally ideal for hostas, although each variety is different.
- Soil: Well-draining, rich soil is a must. Hostas shouldn’t be in soggy soil, especially in winter. Amend heavy clay soil with plenty of compost, or grow your hostas in raised beds.
- Water: During the growing season, hostas often need supplemental irrigation, since they’re native to areas that average more rainfall than the temperate U.S.
How to Plant Hostas
You can get hostas either as potted plants in spring, dormant roots in fall or winter, or divisions from friends and neighbors. Follow these tips when planting hostas:
- Keep Watered: Water your new hostas every few days until they’re established and have started growing.
Caring for Hostas
Overall, hostas are pretty low-maintenance. Follow these tips when caring for hostas:
- Pests: Healthy hostas are like a salad bar for nibbling deer, rabbits, snails, and slugs. Some organic repellents and baits are available, but it can be difficult to grow hostas in areas with lots of animal pests.
- Hosta Problems (article)
- When to Divide Hostas (article)
- American Hosta Society (americanhostasociety.org)
- The Hosta Network (hosta.net)
- Choosing and Growing Hostas (University of Vermont Extension)