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How to Grow Hostas

growing hostas

If you have hosta plants growing in your yard, keep them perky during dry spells with ample water. Other names hosta is known by are funkia, plantain lily and August lily. This perennial provides beauty in two ways – colorful, graceful flowers (some fragrant) that can be used for indoor arrangements and lush green foliage that enlivens shady areas from spring to fall.

Once established, hostas require little care and will flourish for decades. That’s why it is very easy to learn how to grow hostas. There are few plants with lower maintenance needs than is required by hostas. About the only pests that bother it are slugs and snails, which eat holes in foliage. They can be controlled by spreading pellet bait around (available at garden stores) or by placing saucers of stale beer near the plants.

If you don’t already have hostas growing in your yard, why not consider planting some this fall (or next spring)? Select the spots you would like to fill in now. Most varieties prefer semi-shade to grow, such as under trees or beside a fence. It makes an ideal foundation planting for the north side of a house.

With many varieties of hostas from which to make a selection, you can get flowers of white, lavender, lilac and purple. Its ornamental foliage may be crinkled, ribbed, smooth, golden yellow, bright green, blue green or edged in white, yellow, even varigated green and white. Some varieties withstand temperatures to 10 degrees below zero.

Get your plants at a garden center or order them from a catalog. Plant before heavy frost in the fall or order them for delivery in time to plant and grow in early spring. Once these plants have become established, they will grow for many years. Take the time to set them in a fertile bed. Dig up the soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix in organic matter, such as compost, peat moss or well-rotted manure.

Water the planting well. Space plants out according to size – small types, 10-12 inches apart, medium, 15-20 inches; large, 3 feet and over. It may take two to three years for them to grow into a showy clump.

Although hostas tolerate full sunshine, semi-shade enhances the beauty of the foliage and encourages better flowering. Sunshine lends to dull leaf color. If you plant this fall, mulch the area after the ground is frozen, with pine needles, oak leaves or salt marsh hay. This is especially important the first year.

In the spring, remove the foliage that has died back. Fertilize the planting, watering it in well. If you have an overgrown bed of hosta, you can dig it up and separate the plants this fall or in early spring. Shake the soil from the roots and carefully break or cut the segments apart with a sharp knife. Replant in soil prepared as mentioned above.

Many garden centers offer hosta varieties most suited to the climate, some of which may include:

Grandiflora (H. plantaginea): An old favorite, popular for its spectacular, fragrant flowers in August through September. Light green, rippled leaves. Grows to 18 inches.

Wavy Leaved (H. undulata): Another favorite, ideal as edging, with varigated green and white leaves and lilac flowers. Plants grow 12-15 inches high.

H. Ventricosa: Rich green, finely textured leaves with lavender – purple flowers on stems to three feet.

H. Krossa Regal: Small, leathery, blue-green leaves. Grows to three feet with flowers on stalks to five feet.

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