When it comes to caring for your hostas this fall, a few little tasks will go a long way in creating healthier plants in your flowerbeds next year. And that means hostas with brighter color, bigger foliage, and more robust bloom sets!
Hosta plants are one of the most popular perennials of all. With their early spring growth and mid-summer blooms, they fill flowerbeds with big-time color and interest.
But by summer’s end, the leafy plants are often left tattered and torn. Their once proud heart-shaped leaves are often riddled with holes and damage. Either from pests and wildlife looking for a meal, or from the pure hot and dry conditions summer throw at them.
As the plants begin to slowly deteriorate, it can certainly make for unsightly flowerbeds. But even more, it can leave hostas weak and fragile, not only affecting the health of the plant this year, but how it will perform next year as well.
The good news is that fall just happens to be the perfect time for a little hosta care. Not just for cutting them back and preparing them for winter, but also for dividing and transplanting overgrown plants too.
Here is a look at how and when to cut your hosta plants back – along with how to split, divide and transplant overgrown plants to create even more hostas for free!
Caring For Hostas In The Fall
When & How To Cut Back Hostas
When it comes right down to it, hostas are a very hardy and durable perennial. In fact, although their foliage can be decimated by insects or completely devoured by hungry deer or rabbits, it is hard to actually kill the entire plant.
Hostas are herbaceous perennials. And they draw all of their resources for foliage growth from their short, tuberous roots known as rhizomes. And these roots are incredibly hardy and tough.
If you have even been so unfortunate to have your hostas visited by deer during the growing season, you are probably well aware that even when they munch down the plant to within inches of the ground, the hosta will regrow its foliage time and time again.
This is important to remember for late summer and fall care. If a plant has been decimated by insects or animals, it is more than okay to simply cut it back to the ground.
If there is enough warm weather left, it will happily regrow its foliage. And even better, in the process, improve the look of your flowerbeds in the process.
Cutting Back After A Frost – How To Care For Hostas In The Fall
Once a heavy frost or hard freeze occurs in the fall, your hostas will shrivel away quickly. At this point, it is time to cut the foliage back for good and prepare the plants for winter.
Although you can leave the foliage in place through winter, it is better to remove the spent leaves in fall. Why? For starters, the dead foliage can harbor both insects and disease over winter. In addition, leaving the decaying leaves in place can also be quite unsightly.
To cut back, simply use a sharp pair of garden or hedge shears and cut to within an inch or so of the ground. Finish by adding a few inches of mulch on top to protect the roots from winter’s fury.
One thing you do not want to do at this point is fertilize. Fertilizing perennials late in the fall will cause unwanted late and very tender growth. And that can leave the plant highly susceptible to freezing out over the winter. (See : Why Not To Fertilize Perennials In The Fall)
Dividing & Transplanting – How To Care For Hostas In The Fall
Late summer and early fall also happen to be a great time to split and transplant overgrown hostas. Not only will this help to keep the size of your hostas manageable in their space, it also allows you to get more plants for free.
For best results, trim the foliage down to within a few inches of the ground. Next, dig around the outer edges of the roots and lift the root ball out of the ground.
Don’t stress if you happen to cut into a few of the tuberous roots while digging, they can handle a bit of damage with ease. Once out of the ground, turn the root ball over and divide it by slicing through the roots with the blade of a shovel or a sharp garden knife.
Replanting New Divisions – How To Care For Hostas In The Fall
The size of the new plants the following year will fall in line with the size of the cuttings. The larger the cutting, the larger the plant will grow in the first year.
Finish by replanting the divisions into their new location. Dig the new hole to about one-and-a-half times the size of the cutting. Next, mix in equal amounts of compost and soil and plant the new division so that the crown of the roots is level to the surface of the ground.
Simply water and mulch, and your new plants will be ready to roll come spring! By getting them in at least a few weeks before your first frost, you will give the roots time establish in the soil.
In fact, if the weather stays warm enough, your new transplant cuttings might even send up a few new shoots and leaves. It will not harm the plant, and they will simply die back once the first frost hits.
Here is to giving your hosta plants a little attention this fall. And, to healthier plants and bigger blooms next year! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
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