Did you know that hostas are the perfect shade perennials that can thrive in pots? These gorgeous leafy plants thrive in the shade and are the perfect small space option when planted in containers. Come learn several helpful tips and tricks for planting hostas in pots.
My latest obsession comes in the form of a gorgeous shade loving plant; the hosta! After recently sharing our spring porch full of hostas in pots, and receiving tons of questions about them, I decided it might be a good idea to answer those questions on the blog. So today I will be sharing tips and tricks for planting hostas in pots.
Just to be clear I am by no means a plant or garden expert. I just love getting my hands dirty and sharing what works for me in hopes that it will work for you too. I encourage you to do hosta research like I did (mainly on google and Pinterest) to see how they will best work for you and your garden zone. We live in northern Colorado which is zone 5b, but these tips are very general and will work for all zones.
What Are Hostas?
Hostas are big leafy green plants that are known for doing well in the shade. These plants are perennials that are very hardy and need very little maintenance. This is why they are great for porches and containers. They do however love a few hours of direct morning sun. Some varieties even produce tall flowers.
You can order hostas on-line or pick them up at your local garden store. I found mine at Home Depot and Lowes.
If you’re looking for a cost effective way to acquire hostas you can always ask if any of your friends are splitting theirs in the fall or early spring before their leaves open. (It only takes hostas 2-4 years to hit their peek.) The recommendation is that you should divide your hostas after about 4 years because they can get rather large.
Tips and Tricks for Planting Hostas In Pots
Growing hostas in pots really isn’t all that hard. First, you should choose a pot that is on the smaller side for the mature size of the plant. You can find their mature size on the tag when you purchase it. Make sure that when you plant your hosta in your pot that you have less than 3 inches of space between the roots and the sides of the container. Just remember that a small pot may require more frequent watering, but it’s the best way to keep your hosta healthy and happy.
Hostas also love to be potted in organic compost but will do well in any soil. I however only had Miracle Grow potting mix and mine are thriving.My lovely neighbors have a composting bin and have offered to let me use some so I will be adding it to the pots at some point. Most likely mid-summer when I fertilize them.
Like I mentioned above, hostas in containers need to be watered regularly. I always water them below the leaf canopy and around the crowns because too much water on the leaves can make marks on their leaves.
No matter what you decide to plant in your container, remember potted plants and flowers need good drainage. So of course make sure that the container you plant your hostas in has good drainage because good drainage prevents root rot. I did also read that some people encourage adding rocks to the bottom of your containers before the soil to help with added drainage. I however did not do this with my hostas but this is an option that is up to you and your planting preferences.
My copper boiler pot, that I added to our spring porch, did not have any drainage so I drilled holes in the bottom of it myself.
Wintering Your Hostas
One warning I read said to not cut your hosta plant while the leaves are still green. Cutting the leaves too early will deplete the winter energy it needs to store. So wait until they are brown!
For hostas in containers it is best to bring those pots into an unheated garage or even a shed after they have gone dormant and you have cut them down. Also, set a reminder in your phone to water them once a month. They don’t need a ton of water so make sure you don’t over water them!
Another option for the winter months is to bury your pots in the ground or fully transplant them in your yard. Finding a solution that works for you and your plants may take some trial and error.
Do not bring these plants indoors because they need a cold dormant period to remain healthy. That is why they do so well in colder places like Colorado! They are not houseplants. You can bring them back out once the last frost has happened.
Transplanting and Dividing Hostas
Spring is the best time to transplant or divide your hostas because cooler temperatures are easier on new transplants. These plants are known for being easy to transplant so don’t be scared!
Dig up the entire plant or the portion you want to share or move. You can separate the plant by cutting a section with a sharp shovel. Just make sure your hosta has been growing for at least 4 years because smaller younger divisions are harder to establish.
If your hosta gets too big or out of control (some varieties get huge!) it is also safe to transplant them in the fall. Just make sure to give it that extra love and water it needs!
One of my mom’s friends gave her a huge hosta that she had dug up this spring and we divided it up among us. I was lucky to divide my portion into three sections. So far they are doing great in our backyard. You can see them in the picture below!
Protecting and Caring for Your Hostas
Like I mentioned above hostas love water. These plants do a great job of letting you know when they need water because you will notice their leaves are wilting.
As soon as hosta plants have completed their flowering process, cut the bloom stems back to the base of the plant. This helps the plant focus it’s energy on its leaves rather than flower.
Spring fertilizing is important, for hostas, mid-summer fertilizing is a must as well. Some people fertilize their hostas with Epsom salts as the plants just start to break through the ground in spring. Epsom salts has been used in gardening for years and has so many benefits! I found fabulous tips from Sunset Hosta Farm on how Epsom salts can help potted hostas, new hostas as well as transplanted hostas!
Epson salt is one of my new favorite must try “tips and tricks” for planting hostas in pots!
If you notice that your hosta is not doing well have no fear! You can simply cut all of the foliage back to the ground,which will force the plant to grow new foliage from the base. These plants are so hardy!
In fact, within a few weeks after cutting the leaves back, you will see the new greenery . They will come back sometimes in just a couple of weeks.
I love this about hostas!
Slugs are know to love hostas. There are several ways to deal with slugs if they come after your hostas. Apparently some people use beer in their garden to drown slugs ( I would research this one more) and some gardeners sprinkle crushed eggshells on the ground around the hostas to keep them away. That’s why keeping your hostas in containers or pots is actually a great way to keep your hostas healthy and free of pesky slugs!
Hosta Growing Zones
Hostas are some of the most multifunctional perennials. They do well from USDA Hardiness Zone 3 (-40°F minimum) southward as far as zone 9 (20°F minimum). One of my favorite tips and tricks for looking up your planting zone is to go to the USDA website and simply enter your zip code. It will give you all the info you need about your specific area!
When Should You Plant Hostas?
The best time to plant your hostas is in early spring or early fall. You want to wait until the heat of summer has passed but get them planted several weeks before a heavy frost hits. Really you don;t have to worry about the timing of planting your hostas as long as you are attentive to them.
Tips and Tricks for Planting Hostas In Pots
Well there you have it, all of my tips and tricks for planting and caring for hostas in pots. Please let me know if you have any questions or any tips for me to add. If you plant hostas in pots or even have some in your garden I would love to know! Please tag me over on Instagram or Facebook or share your pictures with me via email. ( [email protected] )
Happy planting my friends!