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Care of Hostas

Are Hostas Low-Maintenance?


The "fragrant" hostas are among the oldest varieties grown.

Courtesy: Missouri Botanical Garden

The hostas discussed on Page 1 are commonly planted in rows to form borders in a landscape design. They are reasonably low-maintenance, not least of all because the dense foliage of hostas crowds out much would-be weed growth around them, making hostas an effective groundcover (I'd still supplement with mulch, however). But don't mistake "low-maintenance" for "no-maintenance"....

Care of Hostas

  • Hostas need a lot of water, although they also need good drainage.
  • Fertilize your hostas. The American Hosta Society states, "The norm seems to be an application of around 10-10-10, three to four times per year." The "10-10-10" referred to is the NPK number.
  • After blooming, cut off the scape (the stalk that bears the bloom). Otherwise, nourishment is wasted, travelling to the seed pods (you want it to go, instead, to the crowns of the hostas).
  • As the foliage of hostas begins to die back in fall, you should remove it, since leaving it to decay in the planting bed is just an open invitation to slug pests (see below). What do you do with it after removing it? First, inspect it. If the leaves look healthy, compost them. But hostas are susceptible to some diseases. So if the leaves don't look healthy, simply dispose of them.
  • Divide when spring comes if you'd like to propagate.
  • Hostas require protection from certain garden pests. For instance, you may have to practice the following:

Slug Control for Hostas

A taste for beer has been the downfall of many a formerly svelte figure. You may find it helpful, as well as amusing, to know that slug pests, too, are drawn to beer -- with even more disastrous results (for the slugs, that is!).

Simply set a bowl or similar container outside at night in the planting bed where your hostas grow. Then fill it with a couple of inches or so of beer. Drawn by the smell of the beer, slugs will scale the sides of the container and take the plunge -- into the beer, where they drown.

It is one beer party which your hostas, although teetotalers themselves, will most certainly enjoy hosting.

I discuss slug control in more detail in my review of a book about killing slugs.

Need more choices for shady locations? See my article on the Best Perennials for Shade.

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