Hostas in whiskey barrels

zkathy(7a NC)January 24, 2014

I scored 4 half barrels after looking for months. Found them at Lowe's. Keana has a Majesty and montana Aureomarginata growing in barrels and someone has a great Sagae in a barrel. Does anyone have opinions (lol) about hostas that are much better displayed in a barrel or that absolutely hate being in a barrel? Also how many holes should I drill in the bottom?

Any pics are welcome!


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

how many holes would depend on how big the holes are ... i suggest at least 3 one inch holes with some screen over them ...

and it might not be easy to drill.. if the barrels are still not dry ... but they will smell yummy .. well.. if you like whiskey/oak ... lol ...

but much more important.. is the media you fill them with ...

i do not suggest dirt nor soil ...

and keep in mind... you can do 'pot in pot' ... and change out your display as often as your little heart desires ... and if you did this.. you could fill it with bark/wood chips.. instead of expensive potting media ....

they will also rot.. if you dont raise them off the ground ... 3 bricks will solve that issue ....


    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 8:55AM
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Kathy,I have grown hostas in whiskey barrels for years. I do,however use ordinary potting soil in them. The only problem I see is,maybe after years of being outside,they may rot. Drill as many holes as you can,even on the sides,near the bottom. Cover the holes inside with some kind of screen,as Ken said,and use metal screen,rather than fiberglas screen. I have mine raised up on wood blocks,also. Good luck! Phil

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 9:12AM
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jan_on zone 5b

Kathy - I have hostas in barrels also. The hostas are relatively recent, but the barrels in my garden date from about 1980. One sat on a wooden deck until it rotted through the deck boards, but the barrel didn't seem to mind at all. They have shrunk enough that drainage is not much of an issue - space between some of the side boards (can't remember the term for them!) allows for free run off of water, but they do have inch sized holes drilled in the bottoms.

My favourite occupant is Antioch, but more recent Sagae and Sun Power seem to be happy in their barrels too. Winter survival hasn't been an issue for me - I don't tip or cover - just say 'good bye and good luck'.


Here's Antioch

Sagae (you can just see the very rotted edge of his barrel)

Sagae newly installed

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:14AM
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Yep, here in termite country, anything wooden which touches the ground must be either treated wood, cedar, or cypress. I have two whiskey barrels which had white bird of paradise in them, and they sat on bricks. Elevation is definitely required. Plus, I try to drill holes in the SIDES, through the staves of the barrel. This is a sure fire way of draining water. Even without using pot-in-pot, I'll put the pine bark in the lower portion of the barrels further up the sides than the drain holes.

Would you believe that in some of my hosta containers, when I tipped them over after dormancy, they had long roots coming out the bottoms or the sides? There will be a lot of UP potting going on next spring, with a few more whiskey barrels and 5 gallon buckets.

Incidentally, one of the best things ever is a dolly with a deep and wide "foot" to slide beneath these larger containers. The one I have handles up to 500 pounds and folds up for storage.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 1:20PM
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Has anyone thought about the plastic whiskey barrels? I saw them somewhere and thought about using them.I will have to investigate and see if I can find them!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Follow up on the plastic wine barrels:there are hundreds of plastic wine barrels, just take your pick. I think i might order a couple. It even showed one with a Hosta planted in it! The prices varied.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 2:12PM
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bernd ny zone5

I had two half-whiskey barrels rot away. The new ones I put on patio blocks and lined the inside with thick plastic to prevent that moist soil will rot the wood from the inside. So far so good. But I did not plant hostas in there. For hostas you must prevent the thawing/ freezing cycle which could create rot. Those barrels might be too heavy to tip them for winter,

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 2:29PM
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zkathy(7a NC)

Thanks everyone. McTavish has amply demonstrated how elevating hostas can improve the look of a hosta grouping. Tomorrow I'll post a picture of my new garden expansion. The barrels' placement and contents are projects for this year. Maybe I'll get energetic and post my spring order list too. (I'm an extremely poor typist and a chore like that is grueling. I'd rather dig holes.) Thanks for all the advice.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 7:44PM
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zkathy(7a NC)

I did it, here's the list. Anybody see a hosta that really should live in a barrel?
Allegan Fog
Alligator Shoes
Baby Bunting
Clear ForkRiver Valley
Clifford's Stingray
Cool as a Cucumber
Crocodile Rock
Cutting Edge
Devil's Advocate
Diamond Tiara
Dragon Tails
Earth Angel
Flemish Sky
Fragrant Queen
Frosted Dimples
Golden Gate
Iron Gate Delight
Jade Cascade
Jewel of the Nile
King Tut
Lakeside Kaleidescope
Lemon Lime
Mango Tango
On Stage
One Man's Treasure
Restless Sea
Ripple Effect
Silk Kimono
So Sweet
Sun Power
Twist of Lime
Winter Snow

I'm figuring a cascading or upright hosta will look best elevated. So the Sun Power, Jade Cascade and Spartacus look like good prospects. Any other suggestions are welcome! Or maybe I'll take ken's advice and do pot in pot and change at will.


This post was edited by zkathy on Fri, Jan 24, 14 at 21:21

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 8:56PM
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'Silk Kimono' I think would be a good contender in a barrel. Kind of an open, loose clump. Waving leaves in the breeze. Just one guy's opinion.

Don B.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:10PM
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I wish I had tried one of my Earth Angel's in a barrel. Both of them grow with the bottom leaves touching the ground and eventually get all torn and slug eaten. I use a special mix of pine bark fines, peat moss, vermiculite and lime in all my pots for Hosta. I do cover the barrels with a piece of plywood with a rock on it for the Indiana winter's. There is a lot of freeze and thaw. Well, usually. More frozen this year. Yuck!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 11:17PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Kathy,this is not a half whiskey barrel,but a box I made out of pressure treated wood,but here you see hosta Harpoon,which has been here about 3 years. It,too will grow hostas well. Phil

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 9:54AM
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Phil, does it say 'HOSTARAMA' on the side of your planting box?

Don B.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 5:57PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Yes,it does Don. It used to be a sign in the garden,but I moved it there to have more room for plants. Phil

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 8:02PM
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I like it! Hostarama at Hosta Vista.

Don B.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 2:20AM
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jan_on zone 5b

Not on your list zcathy, but Keana's post in the "M" thread has great looking Majesty and Montana Aureomargintas in barrels, in case you missed that.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 10:41AM
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ZKathy, you blew my mind with your list! Oh wow, I am studying that breath-taking list to see whether you and I think alike and you know something I don't....I study the ones I do not have......wonderful spring treat you look forward to!

The pace down the road to SPRING quickens!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Phil, before I saw your Harpoon photo a while back, I'd never paid much attention to it. Just another hosta I thought. Well, your picture made me research it and discover its stella qualities, and now I have TWO of them on order. I doubled down on it to have a backup, or to have twice the enjoyment. Thanks for putting it up. Sure looks nice in a container.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:46PM
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Oh well, I forgot to answer the question posed when you gave us that sweet list.

Clear Fork River Valley....this is gorgeous and tough and stays bluegreen and even immature it is totally crinkled up. Lift it up to show it off. It will grow anywhere I believe.

So Sweet....not just because BKay adores it, but because it is a feminine lovely hosta which also needs to be featured. You look at it and it appears delicate of form, which belies the fact she is like a STEEL MAGNOLIA....and I bet that is one of the reasons BK loves it so. That and she is a fragrant beauty.

Lederhosen....don't think it will please you up high, since it is such a "green patent leather" and MELTED DOWN sort of hosta, even though it is a fragrant hosta with a blue matte leaf in early spring. Oh it does fine in a container, but there are better ones to FEATURE. Like maybe King Tut, a great gold. You need to feature at least ONE gold, right? :)

Also, I do not think you should confine Winter Snow to a container, even one so big as a whiskey barrel. Put her somewhere she can dominate the area, and shine like a beacon when a stray sunbeam pierces the shade. I love this plant. S&S family, but a much lighter cooler yellow green with a creamy white margin, like a lime dream-sickle.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 1:15PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Yeah,Mocc,I bought that plant at a local nursery near here,on a whim. It has turned out to be a very good growing hosta. I also use this planting box to raise seedlings,as rabbits don't tend to look in there. If you look closely,you'll see a Trillium came up in there,and I didn't plant it! Phil

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:05PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

beware.. your dog could chew the barrel.. and get stoned out of his mind


    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:12PM
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zkathy(7a NC)

Got holes dug today for Clear Fork River Valley, Winter Snow and a big bed to move Komodo Dragon into. (He's been in a pot since fall.). Laid out a bed for some of the mediums to anchor. I'm thinking Earth Angel, Sun Power and Liberty (looks like Majesty) in barrels and keep one in reserve.

So, ken, no dog, but I swear the cat watched until I finished digging then ran past me as I carried the tools in. I turned to look and she was anointing my new bed. All I can say is I hope it smells like mountain lion pee to the deer!

Thanks for everyone's comments. Mocc, if my list is good it's because I read every GW hosta forum post for any hosta that catches my eye. My advisors are the best!


I forgot the Jade Cascade goes in a barrel.

This post was edited by zkathy on Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 21:00

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:54PM
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