Hostas (Hosta spp.) are extremely popular perennial garden plants for one very simple reason: Hostas thrive in the shade. Add to that the fact that they are extremely easy to plant and care for and you'll fully appreciate their appeal. Although they are as easy to grow as any bulb plant, don't look for bulbs like you buy to grow daffodils or tulips. Rather, you grow new hostas from dormant, bare-root rhizome divisions and plant them in the spring or in the fall.
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Meet the Hosta
The hosta is a clump-forming perennial plant that grows from thick, underground roots called rhizomes. Although hostas grow lovely flowers on long stalks in late spring or early summer, most gardeners plant them for their lush foliage. Anyone shopping for hostas will be dazzled by the variety. There are dozens of different sizes, heights, textures, and colors from which to choose. That means there is likely a hosta that would work in your garden situation.
Despite this wide variety, a few general statements can be made. Most hostas are between 12 and 36 inches tall and wide, although it's not difficult to find bigger or smaller ones. They tend to have a spread and height between 1 and 3 feet, but larger or smaller varieties are readily available. The smaller the hosta, the faster the plant grows and the shorter the period until it reaches its mature size. The leaves are most often some shade of green, from emerald to lime, while their shape ranges from narrow to heart-shaped.
Site New Hosta Plants
Hosta plants can be grown in much of the United States since they are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. They only require a month of cold temperatures for their dormancy. Once spring arrives, the plants shoot back out of the ground, provide gorgeous foliage in shady garden locations. They die back in winter.
For those putting in new hostas, it's best to plant the rhizomes in early spring. The ideal soil is loose, well draining, and enriched with organic compost. Despite their reputation as shade plants, the perfect location for planting hostas will have some light, though they will not survive in bright light or direct sun. Think partial shade or dappled sun for most hostas, although there are varieties that like deep shade.
Plant Hosta Rhizomes
Hostas need plenty of elbow room, so plan to install the rhizomes 1 to 3 feet apart. For each plant, dig a hole that is deeper and wider than the roots you are planting. Untangle the roots and see if they are moist. If not, soak them in tepid water for 30 minutes before planting.
When the rhizomes are ready, place one in each hole. Spread the roots in the hole to a depth that allows the top of the root to be at the soil surface. Once the rhizomes are planted, water them lightly.