Looking for an easy-care plant that flowers in the shade? Hostas are a beautiful addition to any garden. With their stunning foliage, adaptability to different garden conditions, low-maintenance nature, and long growing season, hostas can be a rewarding plant to grow. Learn everything you need to know about hosta plant care to keep them happy and healthy with these essential tips.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about planting and caring for these easy-to-grow plants.

From selecting the right spot and preparing the soil to dealing with common pests and diseases, you’ll find all the tips and tricks for growing healthy, hassle-free hostas. Get ready to enjoy an effortless, beautiful garden that thrives in the shade.

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large hosta with flowers

I love hostas for their continual color throughout the growing season, the texture and dimension the foliage adds to garden beds, and you can get lots of free plants from one plantain lily. It’s one of the best plants for shade gardens and you can’t beat their easy-going nature.

While my love for these shade-loving perennials is strong, I hadn’t grown many of them until moving to our new home because we had mostly full sun around the entire property. But now?

We’ve got lots of gardens with shade and there are SO MANY hostas here with gorgeous foliage. I was so impressed with the grace and beauty of each plant. From larger hostas to smaller varieties, they seem to thrive here and it was like Christmas morning for the gardener with each new plant I discovered during our first year living here.

We even have hostas growing in the pool garden around the roses. This struck me as odd because hostas prefer shadier spots, but they didn’t do as badly as I thought they would.

I’d like to move them at some point but haven’t gotten around to it just yet. They seem kind of happy there so I’m leaving them for now. Instead, I’ve been dividing them to grow more hostas around the property that lack plantings.

Are you growing hostas too? If not you should add a few to your garden this year. Here’s what you need to know to grow these hassle-free perennial plants.

A vibrant garden with various plants and flowers. At the forefront, lush green hostas display purple flowers, showcasing shade-loving perennial beauty. Behind, tall flowering plants with pinkish blooms contrast with deep red flowers, all set against a backdrop of leafy trees and a stone border.

Understanding the Hosta Plant

Hostas (plantain lily) are a popular perennial plant, known for their striking foliage and ability to thrive in shady areas. Hardy in zones 3-9, they range in size from small to giant hostas. Plantain lilies bloom in summer and are an asset to any perennial garden.

  • Common Name: Hosta
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Light: Partial to full shade
  • Soil Requirements: Well-drained, rich, moist
  • Height: 1-3 feet
  • Width: 1-4 feet
  • Flower Color: White, lavender, purple
  • Foliage Color: Green, blue, variegated
  • Bloom Time: Summer
Close-up view of vibrant green hosta leaves, with some edged in yellow. In the blurry background, purple flowers and more greenery are visible, creating a lush garden scene perfect for a shade-loving perennial.

The Benefits of Growing Hosta Plants

There are several compelling reasons why you should consider growing hostas in your shade garden.

First, hostas are renowned for their stunning foliage, which comes in a wide range of colors, textures, and patterns. From lush greens to variegated leaves with streaks of white, yellow, or blue, hostas can add visual interest and create a lush, luxurious look in your garden. They can serve as excellent focal points or provide a contrasting backdrop for other plants.

Second, the hosta plant produces beautiful tubular flowers that thrive in the shade during the summer too.

Third, while the beautiful foliage can provide valuable habitat for wildlife in your garden, hosta plants also attract beneficial insects such as bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies with those pretty tubular blooms.

I know several home gardeners who don’t love the flowers and cut them back but leave them alone as pollinators love them. But I’ve watched hummingbirds hang around my hostas in my gardens before so enjoy the blooms while they last!

Fourth, hosta plants are easy-care, low-maintenance plants making them ideal for both experienced and novice gardeners. They are hardy perennials that can come back year after year with minimal effort.

And finally, the hosta plant has a long growing season providing you with several months of beautiful foliage in your garden from spring through fall. In addition to the gorgeous foliage, hostas also flower in summer adding even more color and interest to beds and borders.

A lush garden scene with various green plants and shrubs, including shade-loving perennials. A large rock is nestled among the foliage in the center. In the background, there is a dark green lattice fence providing structure and a glimpse of taller trees behind it. Hosta plant care tips are essential for maintaining this verdant haven.

Where Do Hosta Plants Grow Best?

Low-maintenance hostas are shade-loving plants that are native to wooded areas in East Asia where their natural habitat consists of moist, fertile soils with filtered or dappled sunlight.

Plantain lilies are easy to grow and require very little from gardeners to thrive. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Plant in shade or partial shade as direct sunlight can scorch their leaves. Filtered or dappled sunlight, such as under trees or near tall shrubs, is ideal for most hosta varieties.
  • Plant in moist, well-draining soils that are rich in organic matter. The hosta plant prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil pH (around 6.5 to 7.5).
  • They make great underplantings for tree canopies and woodland gardens.
  • Give them room to grow as hosta plants grow into large clumps over time. Avoid overcrowding hostas and provide sufficient spacing according to the specific variety’s mature size so they get good air circulation between plants.
A lush garden scene featuring a variety of green plants, including shade-loving perennial hostas with large leaves and yellow variegations, in the foreground. A large rock sits partially hidden among the greenery, and a grid-patterned fence is visible in the background.

Planting Hostas in

Hostas are shade garden plants that thrive in well-draining, rich soil. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure successful planting:

  1. Choose the Right Location: Select a shaded area with dappled sunlight, avoiding direct afternoon sun which can scorch the leaves.
  2. Prepare the Soil: Enrich the soil with organic matter like compost to improve drainage and fertility.
  3. Spacing: Space plants 1-3 feet apart, depending on the variety, to allow for their mature size.
  4. Planting Depth: Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and as deep as the root ball. Place the hosta in the hole so that the crown is level with the soil surface.
  5. Watering: Water thoroughly after planting and keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged while they establish.

When to Plant Hostas

The best time to plant hostas depends on your specific climate and growing conditions. In general, hostas are typically planted in the spring or fall when the weather is cooler and the soil is moist and workable.

Plant hostas in the spring, when the soil has thawed and the ground can be worked. It’s easiest to plant in early spring when the plant is still dormant because they are easier to establish.

You can plant hostas in fall up until the ground freezes. However, it’s best to get them in the ground weeks before so they have time to establish before the ground freezes. Because I wait for nursery stock to go on sale in the fall, I have waited until late October and even early November to plant hostas and other perennials.

It’s important to note that hostas are not typically planted during the hottest part of the summer, as the stress of high temperatures and intense sunlight can be detrimental to their establishment. While planting hostas can be done during the summer, it’s easier to plant them in spring or fall.

A lush garden featuring growing hostas with tall, slender stems and budding purple flowers. A green wooden fence and dense green foliage in the background add to the vibrant, serene atmosphere, perfect for these shade-loving perennials.

Hosta Plant Care Tips

Keep in mind that most hostas prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter in shadier locations. While hosta plants can tolerate some morning sun, too much direct sun can scorch their leaves.

Watering Tips for Thriving Hostas

In terms of caring for hostas, they require regular watering, especially during dry periods. However, once they are well established can handle drier conditions.

Water newly planted hostas regularly until they become established. But keep an eye on them because it’s important not to overwater them. How much you water will depend on the weather in your climate.

Since I typically plant mine in spring or fall, I let nature do its thing because we get enough rain here and the temperatures are cooler. When they are established, reduce watering thoroughly to roughly once or twice a week depending on the weather in your climate.

Hostas are fairly drought-tolerant once established but may require more watering during periods of extreme heat or dryness.

A garden bed with lush hosta plants, a shade-loving perennial, featuring large green leaves with yellow edges in the foreground and small purple flowers atop tall stems in the background. The bed is bordered by a stone edging and a dirt path. Dense foliage is visible further back.

Fertilizing Hostas

Plaintain lilies do not require fertilizing to thrive. Instead, focus on providing them with good-quality soil conditions. You can amend the soil yearly with good-quality compost, leaf mold, and mulch. The only time I fertilize perennials is when they are grown in pots.

Dividing Hostas: Step-By-Step Directions

The best method to propagate is to split hostas. It’s very easy to do, helps improve overall plant health, and can grow your garden in well under an hour. Follow these steps to divide hostas:

  • Choose a cool, overcast day to divide hostas. This will help prevent the roots from drying out. The easiest way to do this is after lots of rain because the ground will be easier to dig and the plant will have been watered well making the process a little easier for you.
  • Dig up the entire root clump with a spade shovel, being careful not to damage the roots. It’s easier to go around the perimeter of the plant first, and then slice through to create sections so you can remove a hosta clump with ease. Oftentimes I like to use a garden fork after the spade to help gently lift the large clump out of the ground.
  • Gently shake off the excess soil from the roots, and then use a clean garden knife or sharp spade to divide the plant into smaller clumps. I don’t use a sharp knife for this, but I know some gardeners that do.
  • Each clump should have several healthy new shoots and a good root system.
  • Replant the smaller sections in their new home at the same depth they were originally growing, and water them thoroughly.
  • Mulch around the base of the plants to help retain moisture.
  • And give them lots of water after transplanting. They need it!

The best time of year to divide hostas is in the early spring, just as new growth begins to emerge. This will give the plants time to establish themselves before the heat of summer arrives.

But hostas can also be divided just as easily in the fall. As long as the ground can be worked, you can divide them. Just be sure to do it before the ground freezes so the plant has time to establish itself before winter.

As an aside, an ideal time to divide hostas is after and before a good rain is expected. The plants are easier to divide and lift out of the ground. Plus, the new divisions will take and establish easier with little to no work from you.

Divide hostas regularly, so you can keep the plants healthy and vigorous, and create new plants to share with friends and family.

A charming house with a yellow exterior and moss-covered shingle roof, partially hidden by lush greenery and a flowering tree. Shade-loving perennials, perfect for growing hostas, accompany a stone wall lined with various plants and shrubs. The driveway leads to an inviting mustard-colored front door adorned with a floral wreath.

Cutting Back Hostas

Hostas can be cut back in the fall after the first frost or in the spring before new growth appears. To cut back hostas, remove any yellowing or dead foliage and cut the remaining leaves down to a few inches above the ground.

As an aside, it’s better to keep the gardens intact until spring. Pollinators may have laid eggs on the foliage, which offers protection for some wildlife, provides winter interest, and when left in the garden the garden helps feed the good microbes in the soil.

What happens if you don’t cut hostas back?

If you don’t cut back hostas plants, they will continue to grow and mature naturally. They are tough and resilient plants that won’t get offended if don’t cut them back. I love the look of them as they die back in fall because they add pretty autumnal color to the gardens as they go into dormancy.

A lush garden with various green plants, including vibrant hostas in the foreground, thriving under ideal hosta plant care tips. Behind them, a small wooden fence borders a mix of shade-loving perennials and shrubs in different shades of green and brown. The setting appears sunny with a backdrop of trees.

Growing Hostas in Pots

I love the look of hostas in pots. They look really pretty and graceful as the foliage spills over the edges of the pot.

A word of advice though about growing them in containers. If you want to grow them for more than a year or two, you’ll need to either plant them in the ground or repot them with fresh potting soil. If you choose the latter, gently remove as much soil off the roots as you can and then repot in fresh potting soil. You can either repot in the same container or go one size up.

To successfully overwinter hostas in containers where winters are cold, choose varieties that are two times your hardiness zone. So if you garden in zone 6, they need to be able to handle zone 4.

Choose a container with a diameter and depth of at least 12 inches depending on the size of yoru hosta plant. Make sure the container has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape and prevent waterlogging.

Use a well-draining potting mix. Plant one hosta plant per container and maintain them in part sun to full shade. Rotate the container periodically to ensure even sunlight exposure on all sides of the plant if necessary.

Containers dry out faster than the ground, so it’s important to water them regularly, checking the soil moisture level with your finger or a moisture meter. Avoid overwatering, as soggy soil can lead to root rot. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out slightly between watering. To make things simpler, I like to set my containers on a drip irrigation system with a timer so it’s set and forget.

Fertilize hostas in pots in spring with a balanced slow-release fertilizer formulated for flowering plants and follow the package instructions for application rates and frequency.

A garden with a large decorative planter featuring intricate carvings of cherubs and vines. The planter contains growing hostas, their broad leaves thriving. Surrounding the planter are various other plants and flowers, set on a stone and pebble ground surface.

Common Pest and Disease Problems With Hostas

Hostas are generally resilient, but they can still face several pest and disease challenges. Here are some common issues and how to address them:

  • Slugs and Snails: These pests can cause significant damage by chewing holes in the leaves. Use iron phosphate-based slug pellets, set up beer traps, or create barriers with copper tape to deter them.
  • Deer and Rabbits: These animals find hostas appetizing. Use deer repellents, fencing, or plant varieties that are less attractive to them. This deer repellent works well on both!
  • Foliar Nematodes: These microscopic worms can cause yellow streaks on the leaves. Infected plants should be removed and destroyed to prevent the spread.
  • Crown Rot: Often caused by poor drainage, this fungal disease leads to rotting at the plant’s base. Ensure proper soil drainage and avoid overwatering.
  • Virus X: This virus causes mottled, twisted leaves. There is no cure, so infected plants must be removed and destroyed.
A garden scene featuring a paved pathway leading to a house with a white porch. The path is lined with green foliage and various potted plants, including thriving hostas thanks to proper hosta care. Yellow and green hosta plants are in the foreground, and purple and white flowers are blooming in a pot.

Hosta Plants Are Not Deer Resistant Plants

While some hosta varieties are more deer-resistant than others, they are generally a smorgasbord for deer. Deer damage is a drawback to growing hostas plants if you live in areas that have a heavy deer population.

But the good news is, you can still grow hostas. However, these full-shade flowers and foliage will need protection.

Protecting Hostas from Deer Damage

To protect hostas from deer damage, there are several methods you can try. One option is to install a physical barrier around the plant, such as a fence or netting. Another option is to use deer-resistant plants to create a border around the hostas.

But you can also try using natural deer repellents. Lately, I have been using Plantskyyd deer repellent and LOVE IT because it is not only topical but also gets taken in by the plant. For several years, I have also used Deer Out and that works really well too. But you can also try using this granular called Deer Scram as a barrier to plants and full borders. I discussed how to use both of these simultaneously for extra protection from deer in this post.

The key to using repellents is to start spraying them as soon as they emerge from the ground. Deer need to know early on the plant is not palatable so they choose a different path.

I spray my hostas the moment they emerge from the ground, and then a few more times as they grow until they reach their mature size. After that, it’s more maintenance spraying depending on the product.

Since Plantskyyd is systemic, that spray schedule will be less than Deer Out. Try to find the best repellent situation that works for you and your schedule. But both of these options have worked very well for me.

Close-up of light purple hosta flowers blooming against a background of large green leaves and a green picket fence. These shade-loving perennials form elongated clusters, creating a delicate and serene garden scene, ideal for enthusiasts in growing hostas.

Protecting Hostas From Slugs

Slugs can be a problem for hostas but they are easy to remedy. I use an organic slug bait like this to keep them at bay. Fortunately, there are several ways to protect your hostas from these critters putting holes in that gorgeous foliage.

  • Handpicking is a simple but effective method of removing slugs from your hostas. Go out at night with a flashlight and pick off any slugs you find. You can dispose of them in a bucket of soapy water.
  • Copper is toxic to slugs, so you can create a barrier around your hostas using copper tape or wire. This will prevent the slugs from crawling over and reaching your plants.
  • Mulching around your hostas with materials like crushed eggshells, diatomaceous earth, or coffee grounds can help deter slugs. These materials are abrasive to slugs and can also absorb moisture, making the environment less hospitable for them.
  • Encouraging natural predators like birds, toads, and hedgehogs to frequent your garden can help control slug populations. You can provide a habitat for these creatures by creating a small pond or installing birdhouses and feeding stations.
  • Try using slug bait. There are lots of organic ones available.

Remember to regularly inspect your hostas and take action as soon as you spot any signs of slug damage to prevent it from becoming a bigger problem.

A field of lush green plants with tall stalks topped with small, purple bell-shaped flowers in bloom. The vibrant foliage and delicate blossoms create a serene and picturesque natural scene, perfect for those keen on hosta care techniques or growing hostas as shade-loving perennials.

Top Types of Hostas

There are thousands of varieties of hostas, each with unique leaf shapes, colors, and sizes. When selecting hosta varieties, consider factors such as the mature size, foliage color, texture, and flower characteristics to suit your gardening needs and aesthetic preferences.

Here are some of my favorite popular hosta varieties:

  • ‘Sum and Substance’
  • ‘Frances Williams’
  • ‘June’
  • ‘Patriot’
  • ‘Guacamole’
  • ‘Halcyon’
  • ‘Stained Glass’
  • ‘First Frost’
  • ‘Empress Wu’
  • ‘Hadspen Blue’
  • Proven Winners ‘Shadowland Diamond Lake’
  • Proven Winners ‘Shadowland Echo the Sun’
  • Proven Winners ‘Shadowland Voices in the Wind’
  • Proven Winners ‘Shadowland Wheee!’
A garden path is adorned with pink and white flowers, leading to a stone frog statue sitting in a meditative pose. A hanging lantern is visible above the lush green plants, including shade-loving perennials like hostas, creating a serene and inviting atmosphere.

Hosta Plant FAQs

Do Hostas Grow Back Every Year?

Yes, hostas are perennial plants, which means they come back year after year when provided with suitable growing conditions.

Hostas plants are known for their lush foliage and are commonly grown for their attractive leaves. While the leaves may die back during the winter months, hostas typically go dormant and then re-emerge in the spring, producing new leaves from their underground rhizomes.

These full-shade flowers are hardy perennials that can survive winter temperatures in many regions, depending on the specific variety and climate.

Hostas are known for their long lifespan, and with proper care and maintenance, they can persist and thrive in the same location for many years. I planted hostas when we first moved to our family home over 23 years ago and they still thrive today!

A lush garden bed filled with various plants and flowers, including hostas with white-edged leaves and tall pink flowering plants. The bed is bordered with stones and set against a backdrop of leafy trees, with sunlight filtering through the foliage, creating a perfect setting to practice growing hostas.

Can Hostas Take Full Sun?

In general, plantain lilies are shade-loving plants by nature and are typically best suited for partial to full shade conditions. However, some hosta varieties can tolerate a little more sun depending on the specific climate, location, and variety. So you’ll need to do some research before planting.

Some believe that hostas with lighter-colored or variegated leaves, as well as those with thicker foliage, tend to be more sun-tolerant compared to those with darker green leaves and thinner foliage. Additionally, hostas that are grown in cooler climates or regions with mild summers may be able tolerate more sun than those in hot and sunny regions.

I don’t recommend planting them in full sun, particularly where the afternoon sun in the summer can scorch the foliage. But it’s your garden, so feel free to experiment to learn your microclimate. If they don’t do well, you can always dig them up and relocate them.

If you choose to plant in full sun or partial sun, aim for the morning sun as it’s generally milder and provides them with adequate moisture. But mulch well around hostas to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

After planting in sun, keep an eye on your hostas for signs of stress. If you notice wilting or leaf burn, it would be a good idea to relocate them to a shadier location if you want them to thrive.

A lush garden featuring a large hosta plant with green and yellow leaves in the foreground. Behind it, a stone path leads to a flower pot filled with an assortment of vibrant flowers. The background showcases more greenery and a partial view of a house, ideal for growing hostas as shade-loving perennials.

Final Thoughts About Growing Hostas

Hostas are an excellent choice for gardeners looking to create a lush, low-maintenance shade garden. With their diverse foliage and ease of care, they bring beauty and texture to any landscape.

By following proper planting guidelines, monitoring for pests and diseases, and providing the right growing conditions, you can enjoy thriving hostas for years to come. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, hostas offer a rewarding and hassle-free gardening experience.

For more information about growing hostas, see these university extension articles:

Do you have a favorite hosta variety you love to grow? I would love to know more in the comments below.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear! And feel free to share this post with anyone you think would find it helpful too.

To drill down on more beginner gardening techniques and tips, please read these posts:

Thank you for visiting the blog today!

Enjoy your day! xo

Stacy Ling bricksnblooms logo
A lush garden path lined with vibrant green and yellow shade-loving perennial hosta plants and colorful flowers. Stone slabs form the pathway, leading to a background of tall trees and a serene garden ornament in the shape of a seated figure, perfect for those growing hostas.
A tall sign in a garden with lush green hosta plants reads: "How to Grow Hostas and Enjoy the Flowers." Below, it says, "Easy Guide to Hassle-Free Hostas for a Beautiful Shade Garden," offering essential hosta plant care tips. At the bottom is "stacyling.com.
A woman in a wide-brimmed hat and denim overalls is gardening. She is standing among tall green plants with pink and orange flowers, sharing hosta plant care tips. Behind her is a small shed with green shutters and a sloped roof. A picket fence with terracotta pot decorations borders the garden.
A vibrant garden bed filled with lush, green hosta plants. The top part of the image has a peach-colored text box with the words "How to Grow Hostas" and "shade-loving perennial." The bottom part of the image has another box with "stacyling.com" for hosta plant care tips.

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8 Comments

  1. These are such great tips, Stacy! We’re sharing them with our subscribers on Simply Stated this week. Happy Spring!