Dividing a hosta

bkay2000(8a TX)February 3, 2013

I'm coming up on my repotting time of the year, which is usually late February or early March. I have a really old hosta that has been mistreated any/every possible way. I've had it for about 15/20 years. It originally came from Sam's in the box from Holland. It has no label, as I've forgotten or it was mislabeled and I've been unable to identify it. It's a blue hosta that is very similar in color to Blue Angel, but smaller leaves. It's in about a 20 gallon pot and has in excess of 100 pips each year. I want to divide it. I would think that making it 4 plants would be a good choice. Do you just take a machete and whack it into 1/4's? I sent a section of my blue angel to A&M last year and it did not come apart easily, so I don't expect this one to do any better at separating.

Any suggestions?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Seems like a machete would hack it to pieces. I'd use a sharpened flat bladed spade. That's what I used on my Gold Standard which had about 70 eyes. Whatever it is it needs to be both sharp and have some weight behind it.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 8:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Goodness bkay, that's quite a nice hosta!

Each spring I purchase one large Boston fern and divide it into 2 or 3 plants. (gotta stretch that dollar, you know :) My tool of choice is a keyhole saw. The nice pointy tip and serrated blade works great in that application. I'm not sure if a keyhole saw would work on your large hosta... just a thought.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 8:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Babka NorCal 9b

Looks like my halcyons. A good ole straight spade should cut it up nicely. With such a large plant you don't need to do delicate surgery. Just smile and be glad that you have a hosta that really loves to live in Texas!!!


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aka_margo(z5a WI)

I use a bread knife. Saws through the everything quite nicely.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 7:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bernd ny zone5

I also use a sharpened spade every time. My spade has a straight blade. I sharpen it frequently, also serves well to cut through roots. I then stand on the upper rounded part and let my weight drive the blade cut through all. Transplant all the roots. After cutting clean off all damaged parts.

This post was edited by berndnyz5 on Mon, Feb 4, 13 at 9:45

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 8:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

that isnt blue.. in any sense.. and nothing like BA.. look to Hyacinthia??? .. and get us a pic of the flowers at that time ...

anyway.. no one told you.. but take it out of the pot first.. it will make the job much easier ...

but before that.. go to the dollar store.. and buy the biggest one dollar knife you can find.. serrated is better ...

get it out.. blast all the media off.. i mean REALLY BLAST IT .... its a green hosta.. run it over with the car/truck .. you will not be able to hurt it ...

hack it into whatever size or shape you want ... and.. this is the important part .. pot it back into a smaller pot .. and grow it out for a year or two.. until its ready to go back into that giant pot [this will depend on how small you go ..] and i will yell the rest..


why in the heck are you wasting a great vantage point on that plain old .. non-desript.. un-named piece of carp?? ... in fact.. throw the other three pieces in the middle of the driveway.. and it will probably root into a crack.. or the stone.. and grow like the weed it is..

crimminey.. if that were mine.. i would take one single.. easy to cut division.. for old times sake.. and throw the rest of the worthless piece of carp on top of the burn pile.. and let it desiccate to dust .. and be done with it ...



in the alternative.. do what dad did for 30 years .. as steve says.. use a shovel and just slice thru it ... i taught dad that grinding a sharp edge on the shovel helps ... but he refused his sons wisdom .. and just massacred them every so often .... cant really kill them if you want.. unless you spend more than $50 for them ... and then they will dwindle and die themselves.. w/o any help from you ...

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 8:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
MadPlanter1 zone 5

Hey- I put two pieces of carp in pots every year. They used to be Honeybells, but have reverted to plain green. The important thing is they're super tough. I can shove them in the ground every winter, dig them up in spring, and they fill the pots. There's a place for the almost indestructible.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bkay2000(8a TX)

Ken, that's as blue as they are here. The color is identical to Blue Angel. BUT, Blue Angel gets anthracnose and this one doesn't. So, maybe I should throw the Blue Angel on the driveway and keep this one front and center as it is one that looks good for a long time and doesn't have those ugly brown lesions on the leaves. Yes, I know it's not a NEW and IMPROVED hosta, but it works in my environment. On top of that, others want pieces of it. Of course, they are those folks who can't tell a Paul's Glory from a Paradigm. Then again, they have to start somewhere.

Thanks, everyone.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well bk in my opinion it is beautiful and the idea of throwing part out is rediculious but then again I am one ot the newbie that can't tell one from another unless I see a label but who cares anyway! If I had one as nice I would make 4 and either keep them all or give one to a friend to get them hooked too. Just because grandfather is old doesn't make it dead! Now I shout LOVELY!!!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you kinda skipped the part where i suggested a sublime specimen in that pot.. rather than whatever you want to call it ...


Here is a link that might be useful: i dont care what you want to call it.. its not BA.. look at these pix.. even the green ones are not your green ... but please.. i am fooling around with you about it.. dont get all twisted up in my lame attempt at humor ....

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

BK, I'm adding a link below to NH Hostas. It is a video at their site of dividing a hosta into four pieces like you wish to do. It couldn't hurt to see it being done, right? I watched the video last year, might come in useful some day even for me.

Good luck.

And like Ken points our, TAKE IT OUT OF THE POT FIRST.
Ken always starts at the beginning! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: NH Hostas Dividing Hostas video

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

BK, I'll add my Blue Angel for comparison, since it is growing in a similar environment to yours. Of course, it is one of the three grown IN THE GROUND here, and it is only here since about May 2011. A lot younger than your big plant. But here it is

in May 2012

in June in bloom 2012

in July 2012

and in October 2012

I was very surprised how well it held its blue color all year long. I thought it would be impossible for me to have a blue hosta that stayed blue, which the BA did for me.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Moc that sure is a beauty of a B A . I take it you have it in the shade? My little b angel has only three shoots so hoping it will grow some this coming season.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bkay2000(8a TX)

No, Ken, it's not BA. It's a old plant that was labeled either Royal Standard or Elegans. It's neither. The other one wasn't Royal Standard or Elegans either. It's just the same color as the BA I purchased from a dedicated hosta grower. Of course, that doesn't mean my BA is actually BA, either, as the plantaginea I purchased from him turned out to be Aphrodite and the September Sun from the same source is either a very poor specime or something else as well.


Blue Angel

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


i'll try not to mention it again ...

what a hoot ...

soooooo.. thinking about anything cool for that pot.. other than the one that shall not be mentioned again ...???


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bkay, are you willing to show us a photo of the root ball before you divide it? I'm curious about the mysterious old feller ;-)

btw, Yours and Moccasin's Blue Angels are good looking plants.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 1:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Deb, thanks for the compliment on the plants. Whatever BK decides to call hers, it is a beautiful thing in her garden. With no visual reference to indicate the size of it OR the container, I'd be happy to leave it as is. But that pot must be HUGE.

BK, did that link to the video help any at all? The input of tools used by various folks to do surgery on your hosta reminds me of Medieval warfare....hoes, rakes, scythes, shovels, and maybe machetes. A really sharp half-moon kitchen blade that chefs use could slice through it, right?
Also known as a half-moon hatchet ax.

Also, I have a hefty ancient cleaver used in the big fish factories of Golden Meadow LA to process the catch. It is so heavy all you do is let it fall, and its own heft cleaves the fish....or in this case, it would do the hosta.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bkay2000(8a TX)

Thanks Moccasin, I watched the video from NH hosta. It really helped. All you do is slice it up. Looks like there's nothign to it. I'll take photos when I break it up. I'm going to try the dollar store for a serrated knife. The pot is 20" across and about 17" deep and it's not big enough. I moved it up to that pot, hoping it would bloom. It didn't after two years, so I decided to divide it. That pot is really too big for me to handle.

Also, I'm not sure what a half-moon kitchen knife is. I'm certainly not going to use my good knives in the garden. I threatened my cousin with death for cutting a pan of brownies with my slicing knife, so I can't see me using any of them that way.

Ken, I think I'll put BA in that pot, even if it is too big to handle. I'm going to totally "de-soil" that one, too. Then I'm going attempt to rid it of anthracnose. It should be a good plant for here. I'm still hoping to have a beautiful plant there. Sometimes fortunately - sometimes unfortunately, I don't give up easily.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 5:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I'm going to try the dollar store for a serrated knife.

===>> when you are standing in the utensil aisle.. open your brain .. and see if there are any other $1 tools you can transfer to the garden ... like big serving spoons for working in smaller pots [they can be $50 at the bonsai store!!!] ... etc ... i also like smaller hand knives ... a straight blade chef knife ...

and then go to the tool aisle.. and buy a small whet stone .. for sharpening ... perhaps a mail glove depending on how good you are with knives.. thats in the armor aisle.. lol ...

in the garden.. a SHARP tool really works better.. and when your sum total investment is one buck.. just go at it .. i get so afraid to sharpen a $100 knife.. blah blah.. not that i have many [an old wedding gift of steak knives] ....

good luck ...

oh ... its counter-intuitive.. in shade.. let the cuts dry for an hour or so ... so they wont rot in damp cold soil .. they probably wont ... but why not..

the crown.. the part between the roots.. and the pips/leaves.. is like any other veggie.. potato.. carrot ... rutabaga .. etc ... if the cut part dries a bit.. it will stay in the crisper for a long time.. but put it in there wet .... stuff MIGHT happen.. do not read this as stressful ... you know what THEY SAY ... cut it and throw them on the driveway.. most will live ... especially a green one.. that shall not be named.. lol.. [couldnt help myself .. and if you love it.. good for you]

some might suggest [if he is lurking].. to throw the roots in 10% bleach ... i wouldnt bother for a plain green one ... if you are inclined for such.. go to the dollar store bleach aisle..

and if you want to start some seedlings or cuttings.. go to the aluminum pan aisle [i have a big dollar store.. lots of aisles.. lol] .... and get turkey pans.. or cake pans ...

the hand towel aisle ..

the pop/soda aisle.. in case you work up a thirst ...

and the laundry aisle.. since you will be filthy by the time you are done ... unless you were already here for the bleach ...

i think i covered all the aisles.. unless you want to get some food, since you might be starved by the time you are done ... lol

oh.. and the garden aisle.. for a pressure point hose end.. for really blasting the root mass ... like at the link.. and a hose end turner-offer-onner ... so you dont have to run back to the spigot over and over ....


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 7:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bkay2000(8a TX)

Thanks, Ken, I always appreciate your wit and advice.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 10:24PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Hd are you kidding?
I just got an email from Home Depot pushing hosta plants...
Jon 6a SE MA
Who's going to the Annual AHS convention in Raleigh?
I live about an hour and a half west of Raleigh. Anybody...
Is this heat/sun damage or something else?
This is my Loyalist from last year. It has a pretty...
Hosta Smart Phone App
I think I have my hubby convinced to write me a smart...
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
Sponsored Products
KOHLER Kitchen Whitehaven Smart Divide Undermount Cast Iron
Home Depot
Sussex Credenza
Design Within Reach
Black Frame 3-panel 'Circle Design' Folding Screen
White Deer Divided Bowl
$16.99 | zulily
The Triple Divided Skillet - NS08-302
$34.99 | Hayneedle
Aero Writing Desk with 16-cube Bookcase and Tall Storage Unit
Swag Paper Tufted Quilt Self-Adhesive Wallpaper - STQUILTGIRL4
$50.99 | Hayneedle
Taylor sofa 80" - Three-seat Gray-Stone fabric
Interior Define
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™