How And When To Transplant Hostas

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Hostas are a perennial favorite among gardeners and with 2,500 varieties to choose from, there’s a hosta for every garden need, from ground cover to giant specimen. They come in leaf colors that range from almost white to a deep, dark, blue-green. They reach their full maturity in four to eight years and given good care and the right growing conditions, can outlive their owners. They’re a great plant to share with neighbors and friends and are prime candidates for transplanting.

Hostas are easily moved once you know how. To transplant hosta plants, you’ll need a good shovel, nutritious additives for the soil, and, for larger specimens in particular, a means to move your plant.

When to Transplant Hostas

Before we discuss how to transplant hostas, we need to talk about when to transplant hostas and that involves both time of day and time of year. The best time to transplant hostas is in the spring, but that’s really because it’s easier on you, the gardener, than on the transplant. Hosta plants always need plenty of water and the trauma of transplant, no matter how slight, increases that need. So, the best time to transplant hostas is when Mother Nature is more likely to do the watering for you. It’s also easier to see the new shoots, without risk of leaf damage.

If you have a choice in deciding when to transplant hostas, don’t do it in high summer when the ground is hard and the air is dry.

How to Transplant Hostas

Before transplanting hostas, it’s best to prepare their new home. Remember, when you’re thinking about the best time to transplant hostas, you should also be thinking about the best place to transplant hosta plants. They could be living there for the next fifty years. Dig the new hole wider and deeper than the old. Mix plenty of organic enrichments into the refill dirt and add some time release fertilizer, not only to help get your plants off to a good start, but to give it a healthy future as well.

Dig all around the hosta clump and, using a garden shovel or fork, pop the clump out of the ground. Rinse as much of the old soil off as you can without damaging the roots and then move your hosta to its new home. Beware, hosta clumps are heavy! If you’re thinking about dividing your plants, now’s the time to do it.

Have a wheelbarrow handy or a tarp that you can use to drag the clump to its new home. Keep the roots damp and shaded, particularly if there will be a delay in when to transplant. Hosta plants depend on their root’s rapid adjustment to their new environment.

Set the clump in its new home a little above the depth it was in the old. Fill in around it with the enriched soil, mounding the soil around the clump until it’s covered to a little over the depth it was before. When the soil settles over time, the clump will rest at its original depth. Keep the clump well watered for the next six to eight weeks and watch it carefully in the weeks thereafter for signs of wilt due to lack of moisture. Be aware that the first season after transplanting hosta may yield smaller leaves due to trauma, but the following year will see your plant happy and healthy once again.

How to Replant Hostas

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The lush foliage of a hosta (Hosta spp.) adds a touch of greenery to a shaded garden bed. Although hostas grow well in the shade, they do prefer a location that receives some morning sun to develop the healthiest foliage and best leaf color. Most hostas thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. These perennial plants do require periodic digging and dividing. They can live for many years, which may also necessitate digging and replanting them to a new location as your landscape design changes and evolves.

Break up the soil to a 12-inch depth with a spade in the new planting site. Incorporate a 3-inch layer of compost into the loosened soil to aid moisture retention and soil quality.

Push the entire spade blade into the ground 8 to 10 inches out from the base of the hosta plant. Cut a circular trench around the hosta with the spade. Lever the spade handle away from the plant, working around the trench, to lever the entire hosta plant out of the ground with minimal root damage.

Divide the hosta if it's too large or more than three years old prior to replanting. Cut the root system into two or three small sections, each measuring approximately 3 to 6 inches in size. Each section must contain both roots and new leaves.

Plant the hosta sections in the new bed at the same depth they were growing at previously. Space the plants approximately 2 feet apart.

Water the newly replanted hostas thoroughly so the top 6 to 8 inches of soil is moistened. Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch over the bed to help prevent weeds and conserve the soil moisture. Water once or twice weekly the first month after replanting so the soil never dries out completely, then resume your previous maintenance schedule once the hostas are established in the new bed.

Transplanting Hostas

Hosta 'Kabitan'

Not your average hosta, 'Kabitan' features long, narrow, light green leaves with dark green margin.

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What’s better than one hosta? More hostas! It’s not hard to tackle transplanting hostas, either from divisions or fresh-from-the-nursery pots. Dividing hostas is another easy process, although with large, established clumps it can require a little elbow grease. Learn what you need to know for splitting hostas successfully.

Transplanting hostas is a quick and easy chore. Maybe you’re moving plants because they’re not in ideal growing conditions and looking a little less than picture-perfect. Hostas that have brown leaf margins or odd color spots on leaves are candidates for moving. To dig a hosta for transplanting, if you’re working in early spring, simply dig as much of the rootball as possible.

Hostas: How to Plant, Grow and Care for Hostas

Learn why easy-growing hostas are one of the most popular perennials.

If you’re transplanting hostas when they’re fully leafed out, tie leaves up with string or cut them a few inches above ground level (they’ll regrow later). Then dig as much of the rootball as possible. Tuck hostas into planting beds with soil that’s rich and well-drained. Add some kind of organic matter to planting holes and beds. Set a hosta plant into soil so the rootball is at the same depth in soil as it was in the pot. Firm soil around the plant, and water well. Add mulch to help suppress weeds and maintain soil moisture.

When dividing hostas, first ask yourself why. Hostas are a perennial that grows best when it’s left alone. The longer a clump stays in the ground, the bigger it becomes. Hostas don’t typically need dividing unless they have outgrown a space. In most cases, even when a hosta has filled it growing area, the resulting root restriction doesn’t damage the plant but simply reduces the growth rate.

If you’re considering splitting hostas because your plant isn’t doing well, the growing conditions probably aren’t ideal. Other perennials, like yarrow, garden mums or coneflower, send out a clue they need divided when the center clump of the plant dies. Hostas don’t work that way. Many of the giant types actually need about five years to come into their own. Dividing hostas like these sooner simply reduces their growth potential.

Splitting hostas is best done in spring or early fall. Ideally, plan on dividing hostas before spring or fall rains arrive. Hostas suffer most when they lose roots, so dig as much of the rootball as possible. If you just need a few divisions, dig small clumps that have formed beside the larger parent clump. If your goal is dividing large hosta plants into several viable clumps, insert a spade into soil outside the dripline of leaves. Use a sharp spade, cutting into soil in a circle surrounding the entire plant.

Pry the plant out of the ground. With mature hostas, you may have to dig 18 inches down to get the roots. Unearth clumps onto a tarp. Pull apart clumps with your hands, or use a knife to slice crowns or growing points away from the mother plant. An easy method for dividing hostas is cutting a clump into thirds or fourths and replanting those pieces . Using this method, in one growing season plants fill in so much that it’s tough to tell they were divisions.

There are two ideal times to divide your hosta: Spring and Fall.

  • There is reduced demand by the foliage for water.
  • There is usually more moisture available than during summer.

Inevitably, when you divide plants, you are losing some of the root system.

Hosta Division In The Spring
Spring division is about a four week window. Once the hosta eyes are popping up and before they have begun to unfurl is the window of opportunity to make your move.

Hosta Division In The Fall
Fall division is also an approximately four week window. In the northern climates this is going to be the month of September and, as you go south, that window for dividing hostas moves later into October. Cool moist weather is what you want. Make your decision based on the long range weather forecasts.

What You Need To Know
Generally, lifting and dividing hostas is setting them back several years in maturity. How far you set them back depends on how much root system is lost in the process. So, the question that you should be asking yourself before you proceed to divide your hostas is this: How many plants do you need and how far back in maturity are you willing to set them?

Why Are You Dividing Your Hostas?
Why do you divide hosta? I bring this up because I get the sense from some customers that they divide them too often.

Some of the giant or jumbo hosta cultivars do not reach maturity for five years and they continue to improve in appearance as the overall clump expands. Hostas may reach a space limit and slow down in growth, but they rarely decline from space constriction. If they are in decline, it is more likely a poor site for that cultivar. They should be relocated to a more suitable location.

Adding To Your Garden Design
If you want more plants of a particular hosta cultivar to meet your garden design needs, there are several ways to do this.

  • One thing that I frequently do is lift a clump and divide it into quarters or thirds.
  • I then reset it in the same location with a slightly wider spacing.
  • It provides me with a larger appearance of this hosta and, by summer, you are not able to tell it was divided.

Sharing Your Hosta With A Friend
If you are looking to give a friend a piece of your favorite hosta plant, you can often times cut off one of the outermost eyes without disturbing the primary clump.

How To Divide Hostas

  • If the soil is not moist from rainfall, it's helpful to water the day before you're going to divide your hostas.
  • Remember that the fewer roots you cut off the better the transplant is going to go.
  • Depending on the size of the clump, sink your spade into the ground all the way around the clump far enough away to not be cutting off much root.
  • Depth may be 8 inches or eighteen inches depending on the cultivar of hosta.
  • From one or more sides, cut under the clump and pry it out of the hole.
  • I like to set a tarp on the ground near by to place the clump on. This provides for an easy clean up after dividing clumps.

How To Approach Dividing Hostas
Assuming that you have lifted a fairly substantial clump of, say, 30 eyes, you can approach it in several ways.

    • Use A Straight Spade
      • If you halve, third or quarter a large clump, you can do this without setting your hosta back hardly at all.
      • Place the hosta on a board for a firm surface.
      • Using a straight spade, make your cuts. Try to slice as few eyes as possible.
    • Shake & Pull
      • If you have the patience, you can gradually shake off soil and eventually either pull the clump apart or get a heavy knife into the clump and not lose any hosta eyes.
      • Certain cultivars pull apart easier than others, but most need to be cut.

So, do you cut a clump of 30 eyes into 3 pieces or 30? To each their own according to their needs. If you are cutting hosta into individual eyes, I use old kitchen knives. If you are halving or quartering, I use a heavy straight spade.

Planting Your Divisions
When you are resetting your hosta plant divisions, they should be the same depth that they were prior to division. This is the ideal time to enrich your soil with ample amounts of compost - and don't forget to soak them after planting. This will help to eliminate air pockets as well as insure that the now reduced root system is in contact with moisture.

Watch the video: Planting a Front Garden Bed for a Friend! . Garden Answer

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