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Always happy to meet fellow gardeners and dog lovers! Feel free to e-mail me with questions or comments about all things gardening, especially hostas!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Welcome!

You have reached Blog.SunsetHostaFarm.com. We're glad you stopped by!

Here you'll find a variety of articles about all facets of gardening.  And if you love hostas, our blog also has  articles relating to everything hostas!

Our hosta farm is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. We sell the hostas that we love, ones that you just can't find in the big garden centers. Our farm is not open to the public because that's our home and where our senior rescue dogs live.

Please join our hosta Facebook group for articles, questions, answers and just plain fun with fellow hosta lovers!  Click here.

So come on in, sit a spell and peruse lots of great gardening information. And if you love hostas like we do, visit us at SunsetHostaFarm.com to see some beautiful hostas at affordable prices.

And don't forget to follow us on Pinterest, Instagram and our Facebook Page.

Welcome!


Rain Forest Sunrise Hosta
Hostas -- It's All About the Leaves!!



   




Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Using Wicker Baskets for Making Hypertufa




This article presumes that you are familiar with the basics of making projects with hypertufa. If you aren’t familiar with the process, or just need a refresher, go to our Hypertufa 101 article with step by step hypertufa-making instructions, by clicking here.


I have made several hypertufa projects and by far my favorite mold for making planters is wicker baskets. They can readily be found for a few bucks at second-hand shops so I don’t worry that they will be destroyed by the process.


When you firmly push the hypertufa mix into the wicker basket’s cracks and crevices, the final look has a basket imprint which I find hard to match by any other method.


 
 

Types of Wicker Baskets


The thickness and strength of the wicker basket is important. Baskets that are thicker with a tighter weave will give you the deepest imprint on the final project, but will be more difficult to de-mold later.




Recipe for Wicker Basket Planters


The common mix recipe of one part Portland Cement, one part peat moss and one part vermiculite or Perlite works well for small to medium planters.




Building on the Inside of the Basket



The above wicker heart was used as a mold to build the hypertufa on the inside.  It will be a small planter just big enough for a mini hosta or sedum.





Wicker Baskets are generally used as inside molds so that beautiful wicker design is imprinted on the outside of the planter. It’s important to firmly press those hypertufa meatballs into the basket.

  

Here's a thicker basket filled with hypertufa.

 

DeMolding from a Wicker Basket



There are a few things you can do to make de-molding the project from the wicker basket easier.


Greasing the inside of the basket with Vaseline or cooking spray before adding the hypertufa mix is one way.


A trick I have learned is to vertically slice one area of the basket from the top to the bottom. Then place some duct tape over the slice to hold the basket steady while you build.

When it's time to demold, pull of the tape and begin the slow process of demolding at the area that you previously sliced open.


There are few garden projects that are as easy and rewarding as making hypertufa garden art and planters.

If you haven't tried it yet, read our Hypertufa 101 and get started!  You'll be hooked in no time.





Where to go next!


Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website at SunsetHostaFarm.com
Great hostas at affordable prices!


Monday, January 13, 2020

Why Hostas Die Back Early in the Season


Hostas are known as one of the most resilient  and care-free perennials you can buy.  And that's only a few of the reasons hostas continue to be so popular in shady or semi-sunny gardens.


But when hosta leaves die back early in the season, the culprit is almost always lack of water.  





To understand why a consistent watering plan is essential for healthy growth in hostas, it’s helpful to know where hostas came from and how they grow.


Hostas were originally from Korea, Japan and eastern China where they received lots of water, an average of 50" to 60” of rainfall each year, far more rain than in most other areas.


A hosta builds up its energy reserves in the summer and fall and will store that energy in its rhizomes. It will use that energy in the next spring when the hosta emerges. 


Inadequate watering during the summer and fall  forces the hosta to drop its leaves early.  This is how it will protect itself by going into an early dormancy so it can survive periods of extreme dryness.     


The result is that in the following year, without that stored energy, that hosta will remain the same size or even get smaller, depending on just how much energy it has stored.


If this inadequate watering happens a few years in a row, while a mature, healthy hosta may be able to tolerate the dry periods by simply going dormant, young hosta roots may actually shrivel and die.  Yes, you can kill a hosta!





How Much Water Do They Need?


Generous watering all season long is the best thing you can do for your hostas. A minimum of an inch of water per week, either supplied by Mother Nature or otherwise, is recommended.


Hostas love water!  As long as your soil drains well, you basically cannot over water them.


During the hottest or driest parts of the summer, an increase of water to an inch and a half to two inches is recommended. And it's important to keep this watering schedule until frost.


Some hostas are considered "sun tolerant."  If you have some of these hostas planted in a sunny area, increase the water to two inches per week.  To read our article on sun tolerant hostas, click here.


Hostas that have large leaves will need even more water as those leaves allow for a large amount of transpiration and water loss.

Hostas grown under shallow-rooted trees may require more water as they have to compete with tree roots.



Signs of Short Term Inadequate Watering


  • Hosta leaves are wilting or drooping. Once watered well, the drooped leaves should perk right up.

  • Browning Leaf Tips.  The browning leaf tips can be cut back.

  • Fewer leaves is also a symptom of inadequate watering.   However, a decrease in leaf size can also mean a nutrient deficiency in which case a balanced fertilizer can help.


How to Water


Deep soakings is much better than frequent light waterings. 


Why is that important?


Water applied at a very slow rate to the soil for several minutes encourages deep root growth and limits water wasted through runoff.


Deep soakings also encourage the hosta roots to grow deeper into the ground where they can find water during dry periods. 


Conversely, frequent light waterings encourage the roots to grow nearer to the surface where the soil can dry out more quickly.



When to Water


The best time to water hostas is early in the morning when the weather is cooler. This gives the water more time to reach the roots without evaporating.


As a guideline, if the soil around the hosta feels dry to the touch an inch below the soil surface, time for a deep soak.





What can I do?


Watering it well will likely encourage a flush of new leaves to grow.


When you do this, however, keep doing it!  You don’t want to encourage new growth and then stop watering letting the plant die back again.


Improve the Soil


You want soil that easily drains, has water retention qualities and fertility to feed the plant. 


A two- to three-inch layer of aged manure, organic mulch like shredded leaves or grass clippings around the plant (but not touching) will help to conserve the moisture in the soil. That mulch layer is also beneficial to hostas by regulating soil temperature and adding nutrients to the soil as the material breaks down.


To read our article on making leaf mold, click here.

To read our article on composting, click here.



To Sum Up


Hostas that are never water stressed will grow bigger, faster and will give you beautiful and healthy leaves longer into the season.


So if your hosta seems to have stopped growing or has actually gotten smaller, stick to a consistent watering plan and watch it come back and give you many more years of beauty in your garden.


~~~~~~~~~~


Where to go next!

Great Garden Articles -- Full List!
Hosta Articles - Full List
Follow us on Pinterest!
Follow us on Instagram!

Back to the Blog Home Page!



                                  click here to join

Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!
SunsetHostaFarm.com


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Fertilizing Your Hostas - The Do's and Don'ts




It's no surprise that hostas continue to be one of the most popular perennial plants in a variety of gardens. Their beauty, toughness and ease of care make them well suited for a shady or partly sunny area, and they will quickly become even a new gardener's favorite plant! 



But how can you keep those beautiful hostas thriving year after year?


Although hostas are tough plants and they may not need fertilizer if grown in very rich, well draining soil, following a yearly fertilization schedule will ensure that you keep your hostas remaining healthy and looking their best.

There are as many ways to fertilize your perennials as there are gardeners.  Here's the schedule that we follow for our hostas at Sunset Hosta Farm.com.




Spring Fertilizing


As the hostas emerge in the Spring, rake back leaves and mulch and apply a 10-10-10 balanced fertilizer (preferably granular slow-release) around the emerging clumps.  Replace the mulch around the hosta but not up to the emerging clumps.



Hostas In Pots


If you've stored your potted hostas in an unheated garage or shed over the winter, slowly begin to acclimate the hostas to the outside temperatures as it warms.  


Fertilize pot-grown hostas with a diluted fertilizer (at 25% strength) every few weeks stopping in early summer.




Summer Fertilizing


Hostas generally will not need fertilizer during the summer if adequately fertilized in the spring.  However, if a second fertilizing seems to be necessary, do it in early summer.


Give the hostas a second (and last) feeding of a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer.   If the hosta leaves aren't looking their best, a fertilizer with a little more nitrogen can be used at this time. 


Be sure to stop all fertilizers two months before your expected first frost date to allow the hostas to slowly settle into their winter dormancy.


To find the first and last frost dates for your area, click here.



Fall and Winter


Your hostas need no further fertilizer than the Spring and early Summer. 



About Epsom Salt on Hostas


The benefits of Epsom Salt on plants are many, including that it’s organic.  To read about the many advantages of using Epsom Salt on hostas, click here.





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hostas continue to be one of the most popular perennials on the market because of their beauty and ease of care.  I hope you found the above article helpful for keeping your hostas healthy and beautiful season to season.


And if you haven't incorporated hostas into your garden yet, you are really missing out!


Take a stroll around our website for some great hostas at an affordable price!  But ... a word of warning... There is good reason why there are so many Hosta-Holics, including myself!






Where to go next!

Great Garden Articles -- Full List!
Hosta Articles - Full List
Follow us on Pinterest!
Follow us on Instagram!

Back to the Blog Home Page!



click here to join


Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!
SunsetHostaFarm.com

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Versatility of Hostas!


Hostas are not only beautiful, they come in a large variety of leaf colors, sizes and shapes.


But did you know that hostas are so versatile that there are other advantages to adding hostas in your garden other than their beauty? 


Here's just a few!



Hostas as Ground Covers


    Hostas can be planted en masse for an attractive ground cover to soften walls, corners, pavers, sidewalks, driveways, shrubs and tall perennials.  They add beautiful curb appeal to your front yard.


    The best hostas suited for use as ground covers are ones with the follow attributes:


    •  Less than 8" in height.
    •  Low-maintenance.
    •  Fast growing.
    •  Blankets the bare ground with minimal fuss.
    •  Smothers out the weeds beneath.
    •  Keeps a tidy appearance through the season. 

    Here at Sunset Hosta Farm.com we grow and sell a number of hostas that make great ground covers.  See them by clicking here.





    Hostas as the Perfect Partner!


    Hostas are the perfect complement plant for other perennials. A hosta's earthy leaf color won't clash with a neighboring perennial's color or bloom which makes hostas the perfect partner perennial plant.





    Hostas for Weed Control


    Once established, hostas are a great weed barrier.  They will smother out weeds as they grow and spread.


    If you plant hostas for their ability to squeeze out the weeds, your best bet is to buy a fast-growing hosta.  

    Here's a list of hostas that are known to grow faster than others.  To see them, click here.





    Hostas for Soil Erosion Control


    Plants that are best to control soil erosion are low-maintenance plants that grow at moderate to fast speeds, thrive in both shade and full sun (depending on the climate), and establish strong, sprawling root systems that give soil staying power.


    Hostas sure fit the bill.  If they're planted on a slope, their roots will spread then knit together to help stop soil erosion.




    Hostas as House Plants


    With the sheer amount of beautiful hosta varieties available, it’s no wonder that so many people want to have them grace their indoor spaces as well as outdoor. 


    Indoor hostas will need more care than those happily planted in the ground outdoors.  To read an indepth article on growing hostas indoors as houseplants, click here.



    ~~~~~~~~~~

    If you're new to hostas, feel free to read our Ultimate Guide to Hostas, a hostas 101 article, with detailed information about everything hostas!  To read it, click here.

    ~~~~~~~~~~




    Where to go next!

    Great Garden Articles -- Full List!
    Hosta Articles - Full List
    Follow us on Pinterest!
    Follow us on Instagram!

    Back to the Blog Home Page!




    Love hostas or know someone who does?
    Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!

    Wednesday, January 1, 2020

    Is your Garden Throwing Shade? Why Hostas are the Answer!

    g


    There’s many reasons that hostas remain one of the most popular perennials for a shady garden. 


    One of the main reasons is that hostas not only survive but actually thrive in shade. Hostas actually give their best performance in moist soil and partial shade whether they are planted in the ground or in a pot or container.


    Don’t confuse “partial shade” with “deep shade.” No hosta is going to thrive in deep shade. All hostas need some sunlight to photosynthesize.


    The perfect setting for hostas depends on their leaf color.  Blue, green and variegated hostas will do better in slightly deeper shade, while yellow and gold hostas need more light to bring out their colors. Hostas with more substantial foliage will accept full sun in cooler zones, provided they are given ample and constant moisture.


    So if your shady garden needs some pizzazz, read on!





    First, why ARE hostas so popular? Here are just a few reasons to start with.


    Variety of Sizes

    Mini Height -6"

    Small Height 6-10"

    Medium Height 10-18"                                    

    Large Height 18-28"

    Very Large Height +28"


    Variety of Colors

    Their leaf colors range from green, blue, gold, yellow to white and countless variegated varieties.


    Variety of Leaf Shapes

    Hostas are known mostly for their durable, colorful foliage. There is no shortage of leaf shapes including heart-shaped, narrow, smooth, puckered, elongated, oval, rounded and those adorable mouse ear shapes.



    The Shining Hosta

    The Blooms

    While hostas are basically known for their leaves, their lily-shaped blooms are nothing short of beautiful. Some hosta blooms are very fragrant, like in the above picture of H. The Shining, and they're a great choice for planting by a garden bench or on a deck or patio.



    Other reasons hostas are so popular


    • They can be planted en masse for an attractive ground cover or hedge or to soften a fence line.
    • They can thrive in shady conditions where most other perennials suffer.
    • They're the perfect complement plant for other perennials. A hosta's earthy leaf color won't clash with a neighboring perennial's color or bloom which makes hostas the perfect foundation plant.
    • Once established, they're a great weed barrier and are tolerant of occasional droughts.


    Location, Location, Location – Sun or Shade?


    Contrary to what many people think, hostas DO need some sun. Morning sun with afternoon shade is generally recommended to encourage lush growth and proper color development.  


    This kind of area will also give the hosta enough sun to thrive yet shield it from the afternoon sun, especially in the south where the summer sun can stress hosta plants and fade or burn their leaves.


    • As a rule, light-leaved hostas will thrive in areas getting four to six hours of morning sun, especially if adequately watered.
    • Blue hostas will keep their color longer if grown in no direct sun and open, dappled sun/shade.
    • Green hostas can take more light, morning or dappled sun and even limited afternoon sun.


    Tips for Planting a New Hosta

    • Plant the root ball at the same depth as it was before with the crown even with the surrounding soil and the growing tips visible at the soil surface.

    • Plant with enough elbow room to allow for growth and air circulation.
    • Apply a 2" layer of mulch after the soil warms in late spring to early summer. Shredded bark, shredded leaves or pine needles are some of the best mulches for hostas.
    • Keep the mulch away from the center stem to prevent crown rot.


    The Right Soil


    Although hostas can grow well in nearly any soil, a soil with good drainage, a mix of organic material like peat compost or coir will hold in the moisture that hostas thrive on.   Hostas also prefer a slightly acidic soil. 


    Here at Sunset Hosta Farm, we add leaf mold to our gardens and container hostas for just this reason.


    For our detailed article on making leaf mold, click here.

    For more detailed information on the best soil for hostas, click here.

    One of the reasons that hostas continue to be so popular is the fact that they're a very low maintenance perennial. 


    That being said, if you follow a few basic steps to care for them, you can keep your hostas looking healthy and beautiful throughout the season, whether they're snug in the ground or in pots.


    Hosta Seasonal Care



    Water


    On average, hostas require 1" of water per week, whether by rainfall or irrigation. However, do not water hostas in the Spring until the threat of frost has passed to prevent root rot. Drier is better since there are still some pretty cold days and nights ahead.



    Soil

    Hostas are known for their ability to grow in just about any soil. However, rich, slightly acidic, well-draining soil will keep your hostas looking their best.  An addition of compost worked into the soil can do wonders for their early growth.


    To read our garden on the best soil for hostas, click here.




    Fertilizer

    As the hostas emerge in the Spring, apply a 10-10-10 balanced fertilizer (preferably granular slow-release) around the emerging clumps.  Fertilize pot-grown hostas with a diluted fertilizer (at 25% strength) every few weeks.


    Protection

    Don't uncover your hostas too early!

    Protect ones that have already emerged from any late Spring freezes by covering them with blankets, sheets, cardboard, etc. You will need to do this when the temperatures are expected to go down into the 20s.


    Covering plants with plastic is not recommended as the plastic can freeze to the plant causing damage when removed.  



    Division

    Division is possible now if the ground is workable. However, this is not the best time since the roots will not grow until after the leaves  form. 


    To read our article on when to divide hostas, click here.


    Transplanting

    Late Spring is a good time to transplant an entire hosta plant.




    Other Care Tips for the Spring


    • When all danger of frost has passed, rake the mulch that you mounded up over the hosta as winter protection away from the developing eyes to prevent crown rot.
    •  Apply some fresh mulch away from the center crown.
    • Disinfect all hardscapes with a solution of 10% ammonia to water to kill slug eggs.
    • A sprinkling of clean crushed egg shells will help deter grubs and give the hosta some added calcium.







    Potted Hostas

    If you've stored your potted hostas in an unheated garage or shed, slowly begin to acclimate the hostas to outside temperatures as it warms.


    This may involve moving the potted hosta indoors and outdoors several times as the weather shifts. If the temperatures are expected to dip down in the 20s, you should cover the pot with a layer of cardboard, sheet or light blanket, etc, or better yet, bring them back inside.


    Water

    Be careful not to water too much now. Drier is better since there are still some pretty cold days and nights ahead.


    Fertilizer

    As hostas emerge in Spring, apply a slow-release balanced fertilizer. Other gardeners prefer to fertilize pot-grown perennials with a diluted fertilizer (25% strength) every few weeks instead.




     


    Water

    Lack of sufficient water during a dry summer can cause the hosta to go into mid season dormancy where the outer leaves will fade and wither and the hosta will stop growing.


    By keeping the hostas well watered through the summer, especially during the hottest parts, you can help to avoid the hosta looking ragged, affectionately called "The Summer Uglies" by keeping the roots moist. 


    Increase watering so the plant receives at least 1 inch of water weekly, and cover the soil with a 2-inch mulch layer to help conserve moisture.

      


    Hostas can tolerate periods of dryness, if they are otherwise healthy. Hostas that are never stressed from lack of water will grow bigger, faster and will hold up and look nice longer into the season. 


    Usually, they can fend for themselves, but watering during periods of dryness will certainly help our hostas look and grow their best.





    Fertilize

    In early summer, give the hostas a second (and last) feeding of a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. Some gardeners prefer a fertilizer with a little more nitrogen at this time. 


    Hostas can be fertilized through the early summer, but be sure to stop two months before your expected first frost date to allow the hosta to slowly settle into its winter dormancy.



    Division

    It is possible to divide your hosta in the summer provided you keep the hosta divisions well watered until established. 


    Late summer, after the heat of the summer has passed, is the best time to divide hostas. 


     August is usually the perfect time and will give your hosta divisions six weeks before the first frost to establish new roots in their new home. 





    Other Care Tips for the Summer


    Hosta blooms can vary in their timing from May to September depending on the cultivar. For a tidy appearance, you can pinch off the flower spikes after they bloom.


     


    Water

    Water every other day as needed if no rain and let soak through. This is not only to hydrate the hosta plant, but will help to flush out the salts that tend to develop in potted soil.


    Fertilize

    Hostas generally will not need fertilizer during the summer if adequately fertilized in the spring.  However, if a second fertilizing seems to be necessary, do this in early summer and then stop fertilizing for the year.


    Other Care Tips for the Summer


    Move the container to a shadier spot in the garden during the hottest part of the summer to reduce plant stress or use some man-made shade to give the hosta a respite from the summer's heat.







    Water

    As long as the hosta leaves are green, the plant will need to be watered at the base, even in the Fall.  


    This is because when a hosta emerges in the Spring, it is emerging on the energy and food reserves that the plant stored in its rhizome late the previous summer and Fall. 


    If the hosta received sufficient water in late Summer and Fall, it should emerge the next spring as a larger plant because it was able to store away more energy than it used. 


    However, a hosta that does not receive adequate moisture in late Summer and Fall cannot build up the energy reserves it needs to increase in size. The result is a hosta that emerges the following spring smaller than it was the year before.


     Multiple unusually dry summers in a row can be especially devastating for hostas, as they are unable to replenish their depleted energy reserves.

      


    Fertilizer

    Your hostas need no further fertilizer than the Spring and early Summer.  As a rule, stop fertilizing hostas two months before your expected first frost date.  This is aid the hostas in preparing for their winter dormancy.


    Dividing

    Stop dividing any hostas six weeks before your average first frost date. 


    Protection

    Time to prepare your hostas for their winter sleep.


    Cover newly-planted hostas with an extra layer of leaves or mulch for their first winter protection.  Be careful not to over mulch which can actually smother the plant. 


    The best mulches are leaves, straw and other biodegradeable materials which are light and allow for air pockets. 







    Other Care Tips for Fall


    Some gardeners prefer to mark the spot where the hosta will come up next spring. A small heavy rock next to each crown works well.
    Since slugs produce eggs in the Fall, this is a good time to apply a slug killer. 


     For more detailed information about slugs in the garden, click here.

    As the greenery dies back in the Fall, you have one of two choices:


    1. Leave it be. The dead foliage does provide an extra layer of mulch so many gardeners feel that removing the dead foliage is unnecessary.


    2. Remove your dead foliage before the first frost and discard. (Do not compost.) This will help remove nematodes, slugs and any diseased leaves. First disinfect the scissors or knife you're using between cuttings with a solution of 10% bleach 90% water.


     


    Water

    Hostas in pots that are stored in an unheated space for the winter could dry out competely. Check pots once a month and add a little water if it is very dry. 


    The most important time to check on the soil is right after you've stored them until the hard frosts hit, and then in early Spring as it warms up.  


    Once it's the dead of winter, no care is needed. Do not water over frozen soil. 





    Protection

    There are several ways to protect your hostas in pots over the Winter months. The key is to keep the hostas away from direct overhead rain and to protect them from sudden swings in temperature.



    There are several ways to do this:


    • Move them to an unheated garage or shed.
    • Bury the entire pot or group of pots in the ground or cover the group with leaves.
    • Large potted hostas will normally overwinter well in place with an additional layer of mulch on top of the soil. Pots can be huddled together out of direct sun.
    • After the soil is nearly frozen, you can tip the pots over on their sides to give them extra protection from overhead moisture.
    • More labor intensive, but if you have a prized hosta in a pot, you can plant it in the ground and repot it again the next Spring. 


    Side Note:

    With hostas, there is no growth during dormancy as there might be with other perennials.

      


    Water and Fertilizer

    None.  Don't worry about the snow -- It's a great insulator! 



    Protection

    Hostas don't need anything during their dormancy except protection. 


    Hopefully you've already protected them in the Fall. If not, protect them now!







    Check monthly the soil in the potted hostas that are stored in an unheated garage or shed. Only water if completely dry to the point of being dusty.


    Never water frozen soil. At this time, drier is better than wetter.

    Winter is a great time to search for next year's hosta purchase!


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hostas continue to be one of the most popular perennials on the market because of their beauty and ease of care.  I hope you found the above hosta tips helpful for keeping your hostas healthy and beautiful season to season.


    And if you haven't incorporated hostas into your garden yet, you are really missing out!


    Take a stroll around our website for some great hostas at an affordable price! But ... a word of warning... There is good reason why there are so many Hosta-Holics, including myself!


    Where to go next!

    Great Garden Articles -- Full List!
    Hosta Articles - Full List
    Follow us on Pinterest!
    Follow us on Instagram!

    Back to the Blog Home Page!








    Love hostas or know someone who does?
    Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!

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