Dividing a hosta part 2

bkay2000(8a TX)March 5, 2013

I finally got to dividing that old hosta. Unbeknownst to me, it was in bad condition and I'm not sure why. It's somewhere between 15 and 20 years old, and has been in a pot all but it's first two years. It was beautiful last year. (I knew that it didn't have as many pips as usual and they were kind of clumped into groups as opposed to one big mass.)

I popped it out of the 20 gal. pot and it had almost no roots. I cut it right down the middle with my kitchen bread knife (which I just said I wouldn't do). Right around the crown, was a small amount of clay. I have no idea of the cause of the problem, so we washed off all the soil and repotted it. The roots looked normal, but thin and short.

I went on to repot several and they were all normal, with several in desperate need of a new pot. So, it's not a generalized problem. Even the blue angel with anthracnose had normal amount of roots.

What do you think?


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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

It's possible that clay you found was from it's original potting up in the nursery. I'm not sure why the roots were so diminished. I think it's a good idea to do some root pruning for a potted hosta once it gets pot bound. I think Babka does that.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 9:06PM
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From my experience i dont like useing perlite/vermiculite(if that is what it is) in my pots as i feel it is abit too free draining and make the roots too fine...i tend to use 50% peat 25% loam and 25% bark in my pots with slow release fertilizer which gives it alot more substance and a much better root system...i had problems with vine weevil in one of my earlier pots using a mix like yours,as soon as i changed my mix it romped away..but as your other pots are fine its probably something completely different and as im growing in a different country its very hard to give advice...UK

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 1:36AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the problem... IMHO ... was the dichotomy between the soil.. and the medium ...

i lost hundreds of plants in my sand.. when i simply tipped them out of their promix filled pots.. and stuck the wad into the sand.. over the next few years.. many a hosta failed ... because the sand wicked all the moisture out of the peat.. and by august.. it would not accept water.. no matter what i did ...

the whole point of potting medium.. is the predictability of water management throughout the WHOLE ...

with the two types .. your peat based stuff could be sodden.. while the clay part was bone dry.. or vice versa ...

if you didnt do it on replanting.. i would suggest you pull it back out.. and water blast everything off the root mass ... and plant it in one type of medium ...

and that way.. you KNOW ... when you water.. that the water is moving thru the whole.. predictably ..

i would get a bag of mini chunks or bark fine ... and mix it about two thirds your stuff.. and 1/3 the other ... [i used one gallon pots for said measuring .. tossed it all in a wheelbarrow... and wetted it all down ...]


Here is a link that might be useful: scroll down to 'pine bark mini nuggets' and look at the pic

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 8:05AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

It appeared to have regular potting soil, as opposed to the mix I make which has lots of pine bark in it. I ran out of my homemade mix and finished up with potting soil yesterday. Maybe I should go back and re-do that last pot. I now have to figure out which one it was.



    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 9:00AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


how did you deal with the 'operation' itself.. oh great surgeon ....

were you hyperventilating the whole time.. ??

sweating bullets????

emotionally spent when it was all said and done ...

i recall my first time ... i suspect you will too ...

give us the lowdown ...


    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 2:31PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

When you do discover which one it was, be sure to hose off ALL the soil and get a good look at the condition of the crown area. I suspect some of it has died and caused the recent decline. From the volume of potting mix and those skinny little roots, you can bet it didn't just grow too large for the container. The sleuthing continues...


    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 3:48PM
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What.........BK......What happened? I mean, after reading Ken's cliff-hanger promo for the last episode of ER, I have to hear the end of the story....... is it in Recovery? ;)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 9:57PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Well, Moccasin,

I was so surprised by what I found, I didn't think it through. There aren't enough roots, so I have to come up with a new plan. I stupidly went forward and cut it up and potted it up in the pots I had planned. However, that was NOT a good idea. The pots are way too big for that amount of roots. Tha'ts asking for them to stay too wet.

I'm going to put it (all of it) in a smaller, shallower container and supplement it with root stimulant. It should survive, but it's not going to be a 48" wide hosta again for a while.

Cleo has knocked the pots over all winter as she chases the squirrels. The problem with this one may caused by that. Nothing else makes sense.


Cleo - wouldn't she be lovely with a black eye?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 11:59AM
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Oh my, BK, you have your work cut out for you with this character of a dog! I mean, look at that "what me worry" look on her face....One thing my friend did with her large breed pup was to get a 2 liter bottle and put a few things in it to rattle, and that was the yard toy.....lots of them....and digging everywhere went on as well until she matured. If you have smaller bottles, put them in old socks. My little doxie girl is loving the sweet taters I dug up and left long roots on. I guess it is as close to a dead rat or squirrel as she's ever come, and she eats the taters, helped when she was teething or losing her puppy teeth.

My concerns are the sprouting pecans in the hosta pots. I cannot simply PULL them out, I have to DIG them out. The squirrels always always put them sideways in the soil, sort of like a dock "deadman" post which doesn't pull out of the ground and thus secures a boat to the shore.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 12:26PM
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Bkay, here's the 'Sugar and Cream' you sent me, and wow it's leafing out like a champ. I love it. Thanks again. It's obviously getting planted outside ASAP.

Don B.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 6:24AM
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A very nice plant.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 6:26AM
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