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What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Hostas?

We are asked so many questions about planting Hostas, when, where & how etc. It is so important to get it right before you start. Getting to know the rights and wrongs of planting Hostas before you start planting. Hostas are so easy to grow that Hosta planting and aftercare are often taken for granted. You may just get away with ‘bunging’ them in anywhere, but that is not really an option to me!

Getting it right at this stage will save an awful lot of time and effort later on, having to maybe move them to somewhere more suitable, because they just aren’t growing well where you first put them.

Here are some of the most common mistakes gardeners make when growing and planting Hostas. We would like to share these with you.

Sales Hostas Tropicana
Young Hosta Tropicana

Planting single Hosta varieties.

Planting just one of each Hosta variety may please the plant collector, but it won’t please the visual senses. It’s not how nature operates, and the resulting artificial look appears unattractive at best, jarring at worst. Hostas (and many other plants) look more natural when grouped in odd numbers (3’s & 5’s). Careful grouping will give your Hosta landscaping design a cohesive look.

Variegated Hostas
Selection of Variegated Hostas

Going Overboard with Variegated Hostas

Planting too many variegated Hostas in one place, can make the garden look spotty. It’s better to plant in moderation and in small drifts rather than scattershot. For best effect, surround the variegated Hostas with more subtle-coloured Hostas of green and blue green.

Pairing the Wrong Hosta Varieties

Planting Hostas with white variegation next to Hostas with gold variegation is a visual no-no. The two compete and look un-natural together. Above we have Hosta Yellow River & Hosta Minuteman

Dividing or Transplanting Hostas

Hostas should be divided every four to five years. Spring is probably the best time to divide or transplant Hostas. Wait until plants are just starting to emerge (they’re easier to spot this way), then dig up, divide, and replant. Temperatures are cooler in the spring and the foliage hasn’t developed yet, so plants won’t be water stressed. However, do not worry too much if you need to move or split a Hosta at another time. They will recover well, if looked after. We split our Hostas as they are needed, except for extreme weather conditions, such as too cold, too hot or too wet.

Hosta Leaf with damage
Hosta with damaged Foliage

Growing Hostas in an Exposed Location

Because Hostas replicate so easily, some gardeners presume they can pop them in anywhere. They shouldn’t. Planting in an open, exposed location can lead to tattered foliage. Try to find a spot with a little protection from wind. While you’re at it, if you have children or a dog, think about planting Hostas where they’ll get protection from trampling, too. Nothing will tolerate the regular trampling of kids & animals.


Hosta with sun damage
Sun Damaged Hosta

Planting Hostas in Sun

Hostas are shade-loving plants. They’ll do well in dappled shade or where they get some morning or afternoon sun, which is less harsh. Too much strong sunlight causes leaves to scorch and bleach out. Hostas like even moisture, too, which is another reason sunny spots don’t work — they tend to dry out faster. So, if you’re looking for drought-tolerant plants, Hostas might not be the right choice.

Overcrowding Plants

Although it’s tempting to plant Hostas closely for that mature look, it’s not good for them. Overcrowding impedes their growth, and reduced air circulation can lead to foliage problems. Space plants according to plant tag directions. Be prepared to divide Hostas as needed. Don’t forget, you can always move them if they are too close, or they get too big.

Hostas planted withFerns an ideal Companion
Hostas planted with Companion Ferns

Growing Hostas with the Wrong Companions

Hostas look best with fine-textured companion plants because the foliage contrasts with their large, boldly textured leaves. Examples include ferns, Heucheras, bleeding heart, astilbe and false spirea.

Miniature Hostas Best Grown in Pots rather than open ground
Miniature Hostas Best Grown in Pots

Ignoring Size When Siting a Plant

Hosta varieties have different mature sizes. A large Hosta measuring 24 inches at maturity can serve as a garden focal point and be enjoyed from a distance. A smaller variety should be grouped with others for more visual interest. Size also affects placement — those small Hostas can go in front, where the large focal point Hosta would be better in the background. It is also good to remember, the smaller the Hosta, the more it will struggle with competition for food & water from other plants, including Hostas. As a rule, miniatures and very small Hostas often do better when potted into containers rather than planted. If you do plant out miniatures, keep a close eye on them.

Solving growing problems.

Once all planted up, you may think that is all there is to do. Your Hostas sometimes are not happy where they have been planted and suffer from several natural ailments. This could be too much sun creating a scorched look to the foliage, or even not enough sun making the foliage dull & lifeless. Perhaps it has been planted too close to its neighbour, or it’s growing quicker than expected and crowding out other plants. These problems can be easily solved as Hostas can be moved to a more suitable place or into a pot, at almost any time providing you keep the Hosta moist.


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


John Plant

Rewela Hostas

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