Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hostas in Fall

Fall is not the time to move hostas around in the yard.  They need time to grow roots, and the ground freezes too soon in fall.  Spring is the best time to move them, especially when they are first sticking their hosta "noses" out of the ground.

However fall is a great time to collect seeds from all your various hostas.  Always make sure that the pods are dry and not green when collecting seeds.  Usually the seed pods on the bottom will dry out and open first and then you know it's safe to collect the seed pods.  I put them in envelopes and mark them with what the name of the parent hosta.  Hostas do not come true from seed.  So you never know what you will get when you plant the seeds.  More than likely you will get a plain green hosta, but every once and a while you might get a yellow, variegated, or even a streaker (if you are lucky).

Fall is also a great time of the year to take notes for next year's garden.  Are some hostas too close together?  Do some hostas need to be divided?  etc.  Even better, take a picture with your digital camera and write notes on that picture.

2 comments:

Bloomin Designs said...

I'm guessing from the name, your garden is in WI, so I would like to provide a southern view on dividing hostas. Spring may be the easiest time to divide hostas, before their foliage emerges. Spring is not a bad time to divide most hostas, especially those that multiply fast and are in the greatest need of division. But there are risks.
Hostas are dormant through the winter, and are less likely to develop new roots than many other perennials. Spring leaves emerge, expand and harden off in about three weeks, depending on the weather. New root growth starts after the first foliage hardens off. Cool spring soil temperatures may slow or delay this root formation even longer.
The danger of dividing hostas is a cool weather spring, when the soil is slow to warm. Newly divided hostas may have large mature leaves and no new roots for weeks. Beautiful spring days of bright sun, cool breezes and low humidity, are very stressful for recently divided hostas. On those days the desiccation rate is very high, and the new hosta divisions, with their reduced and possibly damaged root systems, will dry out rapidly. If the weather turns hot for even a day or two, the hosta leaves may burn. While this damage may not prove permanent, this year’s growth will certainly be reduced.
If hostas are divided in the spring, do not over divide them. Avoid dividing H. sieboldianas and ‘Tokudamas’, or at most split slow growing clumps in half or quarters. Fast growing cultivars recover more quickly and can be divided a little more. Dig them with a garden fork, not a shovel, so their long roots are damaged as little as possible. Hosta roots only grow at the tip, cut roots rarely branch and get any longer. New roots will have to develop to take their place.
The best time to divide hostas may be in August or early September, at least 30 days before the first frost date. After their summer heat dormancy, many hostas begin to actively grow again and fall season conditions are good for root growth. The soil is warm and the air is usually more humid than in the spring.
The primary danger dividing hostas in August is excessive heat or extended drought. Do not let newly divided hostas dry out for the first two weeks. Removing some of the older, larger leaves or cutting the foliage back at the time of dividing will reduce water loss. Any leaves that suffer burned edges will be taken by the frost in a few weeks anyway.
Happy Gardening,
Mike Butler

Hosta Nerd said...

Thanks Mike! All good points for our Southern gardeners.