top of page

"Uncovering the Advantages of Bare Root Hostas: A Gardening Must-know"

When people think of planting and growing Hostas, they don’t think of starting from a bare root Hosta. Instead, they usually buy a small Hosta plant or divide some of their larger Hostas and plant them in shady areas of their gardens.

But, if you’re like me, you’re always up for trying new things with your Hostas. Starting with a Hosta bare root can be a welcome challenge.

Growing bare root Hostas isn’t as difficult as you might think it would be, and I want to share the process with you.

What is a bare-root Hosta?

What is a bare root Hosta? The simple answer is that it’s exactly what it sounds like. Normally, when you buy a Hosta, from a garden centre or plant nursery, you’ll get a plant in soil, in a pot, that you then transplant into your garden. A bare root Hosta is very different.

With bare root Hosta plants, there is no soil on the roots when the plants get shipped straight to you. This type of Hosta typically includes intact roots, a crown, and small stem buds, (pips), from late autumn to early spring. During the growing season the Hosta will still be bare root, but will have their foliage on.

Roots of Hosta Frances Williams
Early spring roots showing Pips of Hosta Frances Williams

Bare root Hostas, the roots developed unrestricted. They’re stronger and more likely to take off and establish themselves quickly. With no soil surrounding the roots, they have the potential to establish themselves more quickly and efficiently, ultimately leading to the development of a stronger and more robust root structure. This enhanced root system, in turn, promotes healthier growth and better overall plant establishment.

I like bare root Hostas because I’ve found that having healthy bare roots can give the plant a boost or head start when you plant them.

Gardeners can harness the benefits of a more vigorous and resilient plant by opting for a bare-root Hosta, provided they receive the necessary care and attention during the planting and initial establishment stages.

Autumn & Winter Bare Root Hostas

Spring & Summer Bare Root Hostas

Why choose bare-root Hostas?

When considering why to choose a bare-root Hosta, there are several compelling reasons to remember. First and foremost, planting Hostas is an excellent means of enhancing your garden’s visual appeal, as they bring vibrant colours and interesting textures to any landscape.

Furthermore, Hostas are renowned for being low-maintenance perennials, particularly suitable for shade gardens. Their hardy nature and adaptability make them relatively easy to care for, requiring minimal effort on your part to maintain their health and beauty.

Opting for a bare-root Hosta offers an additional advantage: cost-effectiveness. By purchasing a bare-root plant, you can save money while still enjoying the benefits of growing Hostas. Bare-root plants are typically more affordable compared to potted or container-grown alternatives. This cost-effectiveness allows you to obtain multiple Hostas and create a more extensive and diverse garden display without breaking the bank.

How to Care for Your Newly Arrived Bare Root Hostas

When you order bare root Hostas, they normally come shipped to you in a box, with the individual Hostas wrapped in plastic. This helps to keep the moisture around the Hosta roots whilst being transported.

It’s so, it’s important that you know how to care for your new Hosta roots until you’re ready to plant them.

Open the box and carefully pull out your plants one by one. Inspect each plant to ensure that they’re in good shape. Don't lose the label. If you see broken roots, you can carefully prune them off.

Leaving a dead root to rot attached to the plant is inviting disease. If the plants look too brittle, dry, or it’s dried out so much that it can’t recover, pitch it.

If you have a delay, keep the plants in their packaging and put them in a cool, dry place.

How to store bare-root Hostas

To properly store bare-root Hostas, follow these steps:

If you cannot plant the Hosta roots immediately, storing them in a suitable environment is important. Find a cool and dry place for storage, such as a garage, ensuring it is well-ventilated. Avoid exposing the roots to freezing temperatures or allowing them to dry out.

Keep the Hosta roots in the packaging they arrived in. This packaging helps protect the roots and provides insulation during storage. Avoid removing or disturbing the packaging unnecessarily.

Before planting the bare-root Hostas, preparing them by giving them a revitalising soak is beneficial. Fill a bucket or container with water and carefully place the roots inside. Allow the roots to soak for approximately 30 to 60 minutes. This step helps rehydrate the roots and promotes their overall health before planting.

Once the soaking time is complete, remove the Hosta roots from the water and plant them in the desired location, or container making sure the crown is level with the top of the soil.

By following these steps, you can ensure your bare-root Hostas optimal storage and preparation, setting them up for successful growth and establishment in their new environment.

Hosta Bulbs vs Hosta Rhizomes—What’s the Difference?

Many people still call Hostas, bulbs, but they are not. Contrary to popular belief, Hosta ‘bulbs’ aren’t actually a thing. Instead, they’re actually Hosta rhizomes.

But what’s the difference between the two?

This is where many people get confused,


Cross section of a bulb
Drawing showing cross section of a typical bulb

A bulb has an embryo in it for the new plant. If you cut a cross section lengthwise, you’d see a tiny flower or stem with fleshy modified leaves encircling it. These leaves are called scales, and they act like food reserves for the plant embryo.

There are two types of bulbs. The first type is like an onion. It comes with an onion-like skin on it called a tunic. The second type comes with overlapping scales like garlic with no outer skin.

You propagate this second type by dividing bulbils off the bulb and storing them until the next planting season or replanting them.

Drawing show all Hosta parts
Drawing Showing Hosta Rhizome


A Hosta rhizome is a stem that grows horizontally. Rhizomes grow underground, and they usually have a thicker stem that they use for nutrient storage.

They have buds or eyes that will appear along the sides and tops that grow upwards to produce new foliage and stems.

There are some rhizomes that are fleshy like you’d find with the Iris plant, and others are elongated and slender with internodes like you’d find on Bermuda grass.

Why do people call them Hosta bulbs?

If you hear people referring to Hosta bulbs, they’re most likely talking about new or baby plants. Since they can look like bulbs, it makes sense that people assume Hosta bulbs are a thing. Most people do not know what a Hosta rhizome is, or they’ve never heard of it.

This can lead to a lot of confusion, and many people use the term “Hosta bulb” interchangeably.

Most people won’t correct them, but you now know that it’s actually a Hosta rhizome. Each plant isn’t a new embryo, and they don’t have scales to make up a food supply.

So! Enough of the techie stuff….What is the process of getting a bare root Hosta to you?

Our Hostas are grown on the nursery in a variety of different sized pots, until they are sold. When an order is received, we will pick the healthiest looking pots to process. When they are dormant, this is done by taking them out of their pots, looking at the root system. When in full leaf, we can see from the foliage.

The compost is then washed off the roots. We can then see how healthy the roots are, and if there are any problems. The washed crowns are dipped in a light disinfectant mix. The labels are added then ready for packaging.

The damp bare roots Hostas are wrapped in newspaper, or tissue depending on their size, with a label inserted, taped, and then put in plastic bags. Each plant is always wrapped individually.

These are then placed in a cardboard box, with a shipping confirmation, showing all the Hosta varieties in that order, and finally a Hosta Care Guide leaflet.

The box is then securely taped with ‘fragile’ tape, address labelled, postage paid, ready for Royal Mail to collect each day.

John with Hosta Parcels
John Getting Parcels Ready for Royal Mail Collection

So! To summarise… having your Hostas bare-root..

Plants will make a better start.

Cheaper to buy, and deliver. Much smaller packages.

Roots can be disinfected by the supplier.

Roots can be easily inspected.

All in all, a great way to receive your Hostas.




Our future blogs will include lots of information and advice on how to enjoy your Hostas.......


John Plant

Rewela Hostas

73 views0 comments


bottom of page