Northern gardeners - transplant time from containers?

Julia NY(6)March 11, 2012

I have 4 hostas that I left in containers. I sunk the containers in the ground in the fall. I have the new bed ready and would like advice from other northern gardeners as to when you've transplanted. March? April?

Also when you've gone from container to ground planting, did you make the hole size wider or deeper than the size it was growing in the container? Anything else special you did for fertilizing or wait till the tips of the leaves emerge?

The ones I have are Blue Cadet,Sagae, Whirlwind,August Lily.

Thanks for the help.


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Hi Julia'

If they were inside like a garage and have begun to grow you should probably wait to plant as you will probably still get a hard frost which would damage them. If their still completely dormant then I don't see any reason why you couldn't plant them now.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 7:02PM
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Julia NY(6)

I sunk the pot I had them in, into the ground in the fall as the bed wasn't ready for them. I don't see any growth showing.I understood sinking the pots in the ground would be okay. Hope that was right.

Do I make the size of the hole the same size as the pot they ware growing in? I was thinking to just add compost to the holes.
When do you typically fertilize?


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 7:49PM
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Pieter zone 7/8 B.C.

Julia, don't fertilize until they are completely unfurled and growing, that'll be a while.

Right now you can simply twist the containers until they loosen up, pull 'em out of the ground, empty the container and put the contents into the hole you just pulled it from. Don't make the hole wider or deeper, you're only creating unnecessary work for yourself. Don't do anything else other than perhaps mulch them.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Yes I agree with Pietertje. However as far as fertilizing yes wait until you see growth. If your beds are well amended with organic matter than you can wait until they are grown out. If not or you haven't added any amendments to the soil I would fertilize as soon as you see them coming up. They will have a need for food to produce good growth. I only use Espoma's Holly Tone as it is organic has a low element ratio and lasts up to six months. I do this each year and have much more growth and maturity of young plants. In late June I then sprinkle Milorganite in the beds as well. I no longer use chemical fertilizers as they kill the bacterial content of the soil and these microscopic critters are necessary to convert many elements plants need into a usable form of food in particular Nitrogen. If you do this you will notice your plants grow much better, colors are more intense and they withstand disease more readily.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 9:05PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I recall, that hostas put up their first growth using the food they stored in their crown/roots from the year before, much like a bulb. After that first foliage is up, THEN they go looking for food to grow new roots, which will be there if you apply it early, but doesn't work in pots, as it washes thru with multiple waterings.

Can someone, say, George Schmid, confirm this? Hostas have a very special growing cycle. Later in the year when you don't think there is a whole lot of growing going on, at least from what you see on top of the ground...those roots are doubling in size.

Where did I hear this???? Help????


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 11:42PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


That line about chemical fertilizers killing bacterial content of the soil is simply not true. It is a common misunderstanding among "organic" gardeners. Actually what happens is that chemical fertilizers increase microbial activity in the same way that "organic" ferts do, and as a result of that activity the organic matter in the soil gets depleted. Chemical ferts may or may not be your cup of tea, but they don't kill microbes when applied in the correct amounts.

Here's a quote from Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott:
"Nitrogen in ammonium sulfate is the same element as the nitrogen in cottonseed meal. The plant uses it for amino acids, chlorophyll, alkaloids, and many, many other compounds."

BTW, why do you use Holly Tone rather than Plant Tone? Holly Tone is for acid loving plants like Rhodys, Azalea and Ilex. Hostas do better with a pH of around 6.5, not 5.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Evils of Chemicals

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 7:46AM
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Julia NY(6)

The bed they are going into is a different one than the one I sunk the pots in, so I do have to dig a hole :-(. I am assuming not to plant deeper than how they were growing in the pot, right? Water them in like you would typically do for other transplants?

Do hostas like alfalfa pellets? I use the alfalfa pellets as a fertilizer for the daylilies so wondering if it is okay to use this for the hostas too. Or fish emulsion is better?

Thanks again. All the information is helpful as I'm new to growing hostas.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 8:22AM
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Babka NorCal 9b


Everything likes alfalfa pellets! Plant your hostas in the ground at the same level they are in the pots, and water as you would other transplants, depending on the weather.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 12:10PM
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Yes I use Holly Tone and the hostas grow very well. A Ph of 5.5 or 6 is acidic. Neutral to alkaline is 7.0 or higher. There is much debate within the horticultural community about the effect of soil microbes and the use of thinsetic fertilizers. Part of the problem with them is they are applied in ratios that are toxic to the microbes in lower ratios that would not be the case. I do agree with Dr. Scott's comment when proper ratios are used. Miracle All Purpose plant food is 24-8-16. The nitrogen level is quite high secondly after watering and/or rain the fertilizer is gone and needs to be reapplied regularly. Holly Tone needs to be applied once so in the long run it is also cost worthy as well.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 1:07PM
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I should clarify that I am not against the use of synthetic fertilizers however like other man made things these fertilizers often pollute in urban areas due to the high concentration of phosphates. Run off after watering and rain into lakes and rivers causes algae blooms which affect both flora and fauna. Additionally many do not contain micronutrients which are just as important as the macronutrients Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 1:41PM
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Julia NY(6)

Babka: Thanks for the information.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 4:38PM
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