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Hostas... Winter Care.

All you need to know about caring for your Hostas over the winter.

I have just been up the garden to have a little look around just to see how things are going. It’s no more than zero degrees out there. Everything is covered with a light dusting of frost, and you might think that there is nothing to do, and maybe have an easy day.

Frosted cobweb on the Hosta Nursery
Frosted Cobwebs on Hosta Nursery

However, that is not the case. There is always something that can be done.

Even though all our Hostas are now dormant they still need to be looked after. Admittedly not as busy as in the growing season. We need to do all the essential ‘Winter’ maintenance.

During December and into January, we did a full stock-take. We do this every year. It’s lovely to know exactly what you have. It could be a boring but much needed task. I must admit, I find it very therapeutic. (or am I a little bit sad).

For us, one of the fun things we do is to add in all the new varieties. To make it easy for us to pick each Hosta for all the orders, we have everything in alphabetical order. This does mean moving virtually all the sales stock to make space for some 90 new varieties with a total of 470 sales varieties, in order. Not a quick task.

Hosta sales pots all labeled and priced
Winter view from Hosta Nursery
These are miniature stock Hostas that are not for sale
Miniature Stock Hostas

Whilst we are moving pots about, we take the opportunity, to inspect each pot.

One of our ‘winter jobs’ is to top dress the pots. This was a perfect time to do it. We managed to finish this task before any frosts appeared. For some reason, each Hosta appears to ‘eat’ the compost. There seems to be a need to top up in nearly every case. This protects the top of the pots, from the worst of the frost, especially where roots are showing on the surface. Hostas, once established, are hardy to the winter weather, but a little helping-hand won’t hurt. Perhaps you could do the same?

Sales Hostas pots with Topdressing
Sales Hostas Pots Top Dressed

As a Hosta collector, do you know what you have and where it is? Why not ensure that ALL your labels are readable, present & correct. It’s always good to keep a record of what you have, and the labels are an important part of that. Remember, labels become brittle and easily break They don’t last forever. Do you have anything written down? The most questions we get asked are about Hosta Identification due to illegible or missing labels so why not use these winter months to have a relabelling session?

Great Storage Idea for Plant Labels
Great Storage Idea for Plant Labels

What about you and your garden? What can you be doing over the winter period?

You will probably have Hostas both planted and in containers.

Hostas when planted, once established, will generally look after themselves. It’s lovely & they come back up every year.

You can help the through the winter by top-dressing. You can use most organic materials such as leaf mould, bark, spent compost (don’t throw it away when you are finished with the pots).

Add Top Dressing Of Bark
Add Top Dressing Of Bark

Cover the crown with an inch or so, especially where the roots are on the surface. At this time of year, do not use any fertiliser, or fresh potting compost containing fertiliser.

With newly planted, young Hostas, cover the crown with about 2”-3” for a little more protection, but reduce this in the spring when the new ‘pips’ start to show.

Keeping Hostas in pots is a fabulous way of showing them off. They do take a little more care in winter than the planted versions.

Top dress and check labels as per normal. Do not do this in the frost or snow, If you cover frozen compost with fresh compost, it will stay frozen a lot longer. Labels tend to break more readily when frozen into the pot.

If your pots are standing on a hard surface, such as a patio, it is important to lift the pots, off the hard surface. There are a number of ways to do this. A practical, cost-free version, is to save you bottle tops and place at least 3 (all the same type) beneath each pot to raise it up a little to improve the drainage. Make sure the surfaces are clean before you do this. If you have to move the pots, let’s say, to pressure wash the patio, it’s a lot easier before putting in the feet. This may not be needed if pots are on gravel or similar.

In general, you don’t usually need to move any of the Hostas into a frost-free area, other than possibly miniature Hostas. These may benefit from a little protection, at least, until they are well established. Underneath the shelter of some shrubs etc, will suffice. They do not need to be ‘frost free’. Do not water! The UK weather will be more than enough for them.

Our Yorkshire Hostas a quite hardy as we often have plenty of snow! They will all be fine until the spring, when the seasons cycle starts again.

Hosta Nursery with a dusting of snow taken Jan 2024
Hosta Nursery with a dusting of snow

Watch out for our weekly blogs with lots of information and advice on how to enjoy Hostas....... If you have any suggestions of topics to cover just let us know.


John Plant

Rewela Hostas


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