Growing hostas in the woods

sunnywood 5aChazyNYFebruary 27, 2014

So what should one do when your hosta garden is in the woods under all of the trees that you all say is a no no? Looking for suggestions.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

vigor declines the darker it gets... looking at the left pic.. its getting pretty dark in there ... one would start... by limbing up the trees in the dark areas ...

then applying water gets harder and harder.. you get back into the woods..

address those two issues.. and knock yourself out

good luck

ken

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 12:41PM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

Last fall I had an arborist and his well-trained group remove 1 maple and two smaller trees, ground out two of those stumps. Will ask him soon to get rid of another maple. He also up-limbed two large white pines, two more to go. But watch out that there is no afternoon sun afterwards. Those tree and limb cutters did not step on any hosta, nothing was damaged, they raked afterwards, paid a little more. Bernd

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:34PM
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dgregory_so.cntrl.IL_zone6a

Beautiful beds and pathway layout, Sunnywood.

I'm starting to question the wisdom of my desire to plant hosta beneath hickory trees. After putting together a plan to deal with competing roots, my concern becomes the probability of falling hickory nuts tearing holes in hosta leaves.

Deb

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:45PM
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sunnywood 5aChazyNY

My woods are comprised of Ironwood,Maple,Oak,Ash and big White Pine. Watering is not a problem. I put in a separate water pump to have an unlimited supply from Lake Champlain. The property faces south and the shore is only 30 to 50 feet away. Wind can be a concern at times ,but I do get a lot of light from the south and though the canopy. I am mostly worried about the roots of the trees that you all talk about.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:53PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

As everyone knows,My garden is in the woods,but the trees are Oaks,Poplars,and Dogwoods. All the trees here grow very tall,so there are no limbs anywhere near the ground. The east end is the best place that the hostas grow,as they get that nice eastern sun,every morning. Farther back toward the north it is still good,but shadier than the east. I have moved some plants out of there,over the years,because some plants weren't growing well,but,upon digging them up,I found out that they were growing above rocks as they got older,and that's why the poor performance. I never water,except to establish new plants,as we get good rainfall every year,and I have never lost a plant,due to a drought. Phil

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 4:55PM
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Jon

Looking great Sunnywood. My experience tells me that you have to match the hosta to the area. Darker green and blue do far better in darker shade. Your placement, so far is not deep shade (in my opinion). When you start to work back into the deep shade I think you would do well to go with big dark hosta...not that you need my advice based on what you have done so far. Nice.

Jon

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 7:00PM
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sunnywood 5aChazyNY

Thanks Jon . I guess I was more worried buy the shallow roots, or will feeding and water solve the problem?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 7:08PM
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coll_123(5)

I think it's always going to be a battle when you have shallow roots to compete with. I garden under a large white pine and oaks, and mine do ok with average watering- my garden was started in '06, do I don't know if they will continue do well or what, but so far, the hostas seem happy and get better every year.

I have one bed under a red maple, and everything in there is in a spinout bag....I have no idea if those bags will really keep tree roots out, however. It seems unlikely. I would think the roots could easily penetrate the seams. Time will tell?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 7:57PM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

I also have tree root issues with growing hostas in the woods. Most of the tree species I'm dealing with are red maple (the worst) and eastern hemlock with a smattering of white ash, hop hornbeam and red spruce.

Most of the hostas I've planted are in Tex-R (spinout material) fabric. I've found the fabric (4' X 100' roll) is much easier to use than the spinout bag. Just dig whatever size hole you want and fit the fabric to the hole, whereas with the bags you need to dig the hole to fit the bag.

Below is a disclaimer that came with the roll of Tex-R . I assume it pertains to the spinout bags as well.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 8:27AM
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Jon

I have no trouble planting host under pines or oaks. Pines are shallow rooted and hosta roots are very capable of going deep and getting under pine roots. Oaks seem to have widely spaced roots which hosta seem capable of getting in between and doing well.

Maples are notorious for being difficult for growing hosta under. Here is a Sieboldiana Elegans that has thrived under a maple for about 15 years. It has been divided at least 5 times and fills back up quickly.

It was one hosta and is now 3 plants. It seems to have been propagated from seed (?) The maple is a Norway Maple, but I have equally good results with a Crimson King Red Maple. My opinion is that if you choose a large robust hosta it can compete with the roots of just about any tree. I think the problems come when smaller less robust hosta are planted under maples or other problem trees.

Personally I think spinouts are like planting in pots. They work, but they limit growth and, I think, eventually the copper will leach out and tree roots will become invasive. I much prefer trying to match the plant to the environment it faces and I do think it is very possible to for large, dark green and blue hosta to get under or compete with aggressive tree roots.

Granted MY experience with maples is only with Elegans hosta...but even if it is the only choice, it is a good choice.

Jon

This post was edited by jonnyb023 on Fri, Feb 28, 14 at 9:54

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 9:53AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

nuts are usually NOT an issue.. as they dont fall until late fall.. by which time.. who cares what they end up looking like

ken

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 11:49AM
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timhensley_gw

Maples have shallow root systems and are aggressive feeders. Oaks and as a rule of thumb Any nut bearing tree has deep roots and is better for under planting. I thought my hostas under my large maple were doing well until I had the tree removed. I now want to get rid of my other maple because the hostas underneath have not been able to reach their full potential. If you can remove any maples, I would suggest doing so.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 11:51AM
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dgregory_so.cntrl.IL_zone6a

Thanks for the encouragement Ken! I think Ma Nature had a plan to provide for her creatures during this unusual winter. Winter before this, it was copious amounts of acorns after the drought summer.

The shag bark hickory in my area have matted "surface" roots 4-6" thick. I'm hoping that spinout bags and TexR material will fend off the tree roots long enough for the hosta to grow more towards mature before the bag fails. After that hopefully the hosta can compete with the tree roots and/or grow deeper as above posters have suggested.

Good reading other member's experiences. Thanks for bringing up the subject, Sunnywood :-)

Deb

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 12:38PM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

squirejohn, how do you handle the Texel fabric after cutting it to fit the hole. Do you sew together the folded-under corners, or do they seal naturally via the anti-root chemical and pressure of soil inside the hole around the hosta? Thanks! Bernd

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 2:25PM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

Bernd, Depending on the size and configuration of the planting hole I may just fold the corners under, cut them off or scoop out a shallow area and lay the corners flat and cover them up with an inch +/- of soil.
The weight of the soil holds the pieces together so there's no need to sew or glue pieces.
The photo below shows two pieces overlapped (end of roll so needed to piece "scraps" together).

As you can see the hole is about 2 ft. D whereas the largest Spinout bag is 11 or 12 " D.

There's not much waste. This is all that's left of a 100' X 4' roll.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 7:09AM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

John, Thanks!
So you believe that tree roots will not find its way in between fabric pieces to roots of the hosta because they will shy away from having direct contact with chemical on the cloth. Almosthooked was sewing larger pieces together, I read here, to make larger bags. But that sewing is a deterrent to me to buy this large roll of spinout material. I was using large pieces of landscape fabric for now for large clumps. Thanks again!
Bernd

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 8:10AM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

Bernd, I don't think there's any space between pieces as the soil will hold them tight to one another. If tree roots tried to squeeze between two pieces they would still be subjected to an inch or two of treated fabric. If I were to join pieces I'd try gluing seams first; much faster than sewing.

John

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 9:09AM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

John, glueing is a good idea. The still wet glue would adjust as I then shovel in soil around the hosta. Thanks! Bernd

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 4:28PM
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donrawson(Z 5)

Here's a former posting which may be helpful: Any advice on tree root invasion?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 9:43PM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

Dgregory,

Spin Out bags may not work so well for shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) as it's listed in the notification above as the roots are able to penetrate spin out fabric.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 7:01AM
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dgregory_so.cntrl.IL_zone6a

squirejohn,
Yes, thanks for the heads up. I did notice Shagbark hickory listed in the disclaimer you posted. My hope is that the bags/fabric will fend off invasive roots long enough for the hosta to grow and establish.

It's worth trying, for me anyway. The alternative is growing in pots (which the majority of my hosta are already) and am fine with that.

I have admired the natural look of in ground hosta gardens that so many here have posted pics of. I just thought I'd give it a shot as an option for growing the larger varieties.

Deb

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 12:30PM
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