Hostas continue to be one of the most popular perennial plants for a number of reasons, including the variety of sizes, shapes and colors that they come in. In addition, their ability to grow in less than perfect gardening conditions is unmatched.
Here at Sunset Hosta Farm, over the years I have often heard some common misconceptions about hostas that I want to clear up in this article.
Hostas can survive in complete, deep shade.
The most common misconception about hostas is that they will survive in deep shade. Although hostas are commonly known as “shade” plants, they are a plant and do need some sunlight to survive. The amount of sunlight they need depends on the cultivar of hosta you have.
Most hostas will grow and be healthy in part shade and part sun, weighing more on the shady side. More specifically the best siting for most hostas is morning sun and afternoon shade. You may not get the leaf coloring you want, but the hostas will usually be happy and healthy.
For a detailed article on hosta leaf coloring, click here.
Hostas cannot be planted in a sunny area.
While it is true that there are no “sun proof” hostas, there are hosta varieties that are able to tolerate more sun than their shade-loving cousins. These hostas are labeled as “sun tolerant and they can take up to five or six hours of direct sun a day.
But in a full day of direct sun, no hosta will survive for long without the leaves burning severely or the plant simply dying.
For a detailed article on sun tolerant hostas and some great hosta choices, click here.
Blue hosta leaves will remain blue all season long.
This is only true if a blue leafed hosta is well sited in dappled morning sun and afternoon shade. That's your best shot for keeping that blue color as long as possible.
Blue hostas develop a glacuous waxy layer that develops as they emerge which helps to protect the leaves from harmful weather, and that blue wax causes the light to reflect in such a way that gives the hosta leaves that bluish color.
Underneath, the leaves are actually green. A heavy rain can cause the waxy layer to wash off exposing the green leaf underneath. Too much sun can quickly cause the blue leaves to turn green.
There are other factors, in addition to the siting, that determine the blueness of a blue hosta. These include the maturity of the hosta, the leaf shape and the cultivar. For a more detailed article on blue hostas, click here.
Spring is the only time to divide a hosta.
Actually hostas can be divided in most areas in the spring, summer and fall, basically anytime the soil is workable.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each season, though, and here is a short explanation.
While hostas can be divided any time the soil is workable, it is best to divide fast-growing hostas in the Spring as soon as the eyes are popping up but before the leaves unfurl. This is usually a two-week window.
Fast-growing hostas recover quickly from the division. It is advisable to only divide non fast-growing hostas in thirds or quarters if doing this in the Spring.
Hostas can be divided in the summer months, but much more care needs to be taken to be sure you don't stress the plant and divisions. Water well, shade the replanted divisions for at least a few days to a week and keep a closer eye on them until they're established.
You can also cut back the hosta leaves to a few inches from the ground level to help the hosta recover more quickly. Their top growth will quickly return.
Fall is a great time for division. The hosta's need for water is not as great now. In northern climates, that is September, in the southern, October.
Hostas usually put on a growth spurt in August and early September, so dividing them at least 30 days before the first expected frost date takes advantage of this growth spurt as well as giving them time to settle into their new home before their winter sleep.
There are hostas that slugs won't eat.
Although slugs LOVE hostas as much as we do, there are hostas that have been bred to be more resistant to slugs. The thicker the hosta leaves, the less appeal they have to slugs and snails. There are many slug resistant hostas to choose from.
For a list of some great slug resistant hostas, click here.
If you're already a Hostaholic, you are in great company. There are many of us! If you haven't tried incorporating hostas into your garden, give them a try. They are such a beautiful and easy-to-care-for plant, that's the only plant that we grow and sell.
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