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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, March 28, 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.

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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.

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Welcome!


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



   




Monday, March 23, 2020

Dividing Hostas in the Summer





Although spring and fall are the best times to divide perennials like hostas, you can divide them successfully in the summer.   Here are the most important steps to follow to ensure a healthy summer division.


1.  Cut Back the Leaves


Cut back the hosta leaves to within a few inches above the ground before you dig the plant up.  Not only does this enable you to see where to dig more easily so as not to damage the roots, but less leaf growth means more energy going to the hosta division's roots after transplant.





2.  Divide the Hosta

After lifting the hosta from the ground, divide into as many parts as you choose.  Any division that has a good, healthy root system attached will be fine.



3.  Soak the Division Roots

Soak the roots of the division in water for half an hour or so for the roots to soak up as much water as they can before replanting.




5.  Plant the divisions


Plant your divisions in well-draining soil in a hole twice the width of the roots. Tuck the roots in pointed downward and the eyes or growing points slightly below the soil surface.



The best soil for hostas is one that is rich in plant foods (compost), retains moisture well yet drains easily. 


Hosta roots can grow anywhere from 6 to 18" deep depending on the size and variety and require plenty of space between plants for good air circulation.


General spacing for different hosta sizes is as follows:


Very Large to Large Hostas 30 - 36"
Medium Hostas 18 - 24"
Small Hostas 12 - 18"
Mini or Dwarf 6 - 8"





6.  Water in well.

Water the divisions every day and even up to twice a day in the hottest weather.  Hosta roots need at least 1" of moisture per week for healthy growth, and hosta divisions need even more water than that for the rest of the summer, and even into the fall.

Why water into the fall?  It's helpful to remember that 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 grows to the same or smaller size the following spring.





7.  Mulch


Cover the soil with a 2-inch mulch layer to help conserve moisture.



8.  Shade

Fold a piece of cardboard in half and tent it around the divisions for up to a week.  As soon as the hosta appears to bounce back with some leaf growth, you can take the cardboard off.



- No Need to Fertilize --


It is recommended to stop fertilizing hostas two months before your expected first frost date.  This allows the hostas to slowly settle into their winter dormancy.  So if you have divided in mid to late summer, no fertilizer is needed.





Where to go next!



  


Love hostas or know someone who does?

Visit SunsetHostaFarm.com

Great hostas at affordable prices!




Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Making Carrot Seed Tapes



I used to think making seed tapes was a waste of time and I didn’t understand why gardeners would spend time making them.


That was until I was at my wit’s end trying to thin out carrot seeds that I had direct sown. I find it nearly impossible to get the spacing right on those tiny seeds. So I tried the seed tape thing and made enough of them to fill a four by eight foot raised garden bed.


The result?  The carrots germinated with just the right spacing – NO THINNING!  I was sold.


Besides the joy of not having to thin tiny seeds like carrots, there are several other advantages of making and planting seed tapes over direct sowing the seeds.


  

Advantages



  • Better harvest of straight, uniform looking carrots.
  • Correct spacing of plants so no wasted time thinning.
  • Seed Saving. No wasted seeds from heavy-handed over sowing.
  • You can make the seed tapes any size or shape to fit your container or the shape of your garden bed.
  • It’s a great kids project.
  • It’s a great winter project. It satisfies my need to do some gardening things when there is still snow on the ground. When Spring hits, the garden marathon starts. Anything that I can do in the off season to get a jump on spring chores is welcomed.


What Seeds are useful for making seed tapes?



You can literally make seed tapes of any type of seed that can be direct sown in your zone, but I find this process more useful with tiny seeds like carrots, beets and radishes that are a pain to thin out.  This process even works for small flower seeds!

  


What you need


  • Seeds
  • Paper Towels (I find two ply works best) – Not toilet paper!!
  • An empty paper towel roll or similar item to roll the finished seed tapes around
  • A paste mix of flour and water
  • A ruler
  • A marker
  • Wax paper
  • Tooth pick


So why Paper Towels over Toilet Paper?


One, paper towels are stronger and hold up better in storage. I sometimes make my seed tapes several months in advance.


Two, paper towels make much larger seed tapes than toilet paper making them much easier to later set in their planting place.



Let’s Make Seed Tapes!


  

Step 1


Decide on your seed spacing. For my carrots, I prefer the spacing of 2”.



Step 2


Using a marker (it’s easier to see than pen or pencil) and a ruler, make a dot where the seeds are to go. It doesn’t need to be perfect.

Step 3


Make a paste of flour and water. You won’t need much. Make it of the consistency where you can drop a good sized drop of the paste onto each dot on the paper towel. A toothpick works well for this.

  

Step 4


Carefully drop one or two seeds onto the top of each paste drop. You don’t need to press the seeds down. They will stick. I like to carefully remove any seeds more than two to a paste drop. If you’re doing many seed tapes, do it in sections so the paste doesn’t dry out before you drop in the seeds.

Step 5


Let the tape dry for two to three hours.

  

Step 6


Wrapping the seed tape for later use.

Place an equal size piece of wax paper on top of the seeded side of the paper towel. If you’re doing several sheets, layer one piece of wax paper between each seed tape to prevent the paper towels from sticking together. Roll the layers around a paper towel roll and fasten loosely with a rubber band, string, etc, to keep rolled.


I have rolled seed tapes together without the layer of wax paper in between, but found that some areas will lightly stick together which can rip the paper towels as you unroll them.


Step 7


Store the rolls in a cool, dry place until you’re ready for planting.



To Plant The Seed Tape


Unroll the layers. I reuse the wax paper for two or three seasons so I keep those. Lay the seed tape seed side up on the soil. Cover the entire paper towel with soil at the same depth as you would if you were direct sowing. For carrots, that's 1/4th inch, just a light dusting of soil over the top.  Make sure the soil stays moist until the seeds germinate.



When it comes carrots, I like to place a layer of cardboard over the soil and keep it wet until germination. I find it helps the seeds to germinate uniformly and more quickly, and it’s easier to keep the cardboard moist instead of worrying if I’m dislodging any seeds when I’m watering.





So that’s it! I now do this for my carrots every year.  I get a great harvest of healthy, straight carrots!


So while you have down time in the winter season, why not try this method for some of your tiny veggie and flower seeds?  You'll be glad you did!





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


Monday, February 17, 2020

Hostas - Perfect Plants for Hypertufa Planters!


If you are new to working with hypertufa to make great garden art, planters and the like, you may want to read our Hypertufa 101 articles first.  To do that, click here.



Hypertufa planters are great for plants. They do not heat up in the sun and they are porous which will allow the plant's roots to breathe.



The best plants to plant in hypertufa planter have the following characteristics.

  • They are shallow rooted.
  • They are slow-growing perennials so you don't have to replant the planter every year.
  • They are low growing so they will gracefully drape over the edges.
  • They are very tough plants that are easy to care for.


It's not a surprise then that the above characteristics describe hostas perfectly!

Mini and small hostas will grow nicely in regular size planters.

Here are our best pics for small hostas for hypertufa planters:



Rain Forest Sunrise


Golden Tiara


Grand Tiara


Hush Puppie


Tick Tock

Amber Tiara


Blue Cadet



Platinum Tiara


Stiletto


Emerald Tiara


And let's not forget the adorable mini hostas, especially those cute mouse ear hostas:











Other plants that will happily grow in Hypertufa planters include alpines, succulents, sedum, tiny evergreens, any plant that's at home in a rock or alpine garden.

  


If you're interested in adding hostas to your Hypertufa planters or your garden in general, we'd love for you to visit us at SunsetHostaFarm.com. 


We also invite you to email us with any questions or comments or pictures of your projects. I'd love to see them!


  

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Signs your Hosta is Water Stressed




Hostas are well known as easy-care perennials.  The fact that they come in such a variety of sizes, colors and leaf shapes is just one more reason why hostas remain one of the most popular perennials for shady and part sunny gardens.


One of the most important ways, if not THE most important way, of keeping your hostas healthy and beautiful is simple -- 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. 




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 are 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.



Long-Term Signs of Inadequate Watering


  • Hostas Dropping its Leaves Early in the Season

  • Comes Back Smaller the next season.



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!





So, 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 overwater 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.



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?


As soon as you notice the problem, begin an intensive water plan for the rest of the season.  This 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 looks sickly, has browning edges or seems to have stopped growing or has actually gotten smaller, stick to a consistent watering plan and watch it eventually bounce back and give you many more years of beauty in your garden.


~~~~~~~~~~


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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 off 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!


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