hostas in lily of the valley patch - anyone?

gayle0000(zone 5-Normal IL)March 22, 2011

Searched the forum. Not finding what I'm looking for.

Does anyone grow hostas in Lily of the Valley patches? Will the LOTV choke out the hosta? Should I corral the hosta drip line so the LOTV stay back? LOTV doesn't grow deep, but it can get dense.

I've got this great vision of a new planting area with LOTV as groundcover.

Yes, I have a lot of land to mess around with. Yes, I know some think LOTV is invasive. I don't have a problem controlling the outer boundaries. I'm concerned if I need to control inner boundaries around the hosta.

Anyone? Thanks,


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My experience with LOTV is that it tends to look scraggly as the season goes on, unless it's in deep deep shade. You might want to think about that as you consider this idea.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 9:32PM
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I had a patch of lily of the valley that got so thick nothing could grow through it, it was a solid mass. Note I said "had". It was a real pain to dig out, too. I'm still digging out pieces of it, four years later. I do have another patch but it's where it can't escape or swamp anything. I wouldn't grow it under my hostas.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 9:43PM
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Might try planting LOTV in a large pot or two and sink the pot in the garden with edge above sold line - can pull pot periodically and check that roots are contained.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 10:33PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

it should have its own space.. miles from anything important ...

however.. there is a variegated LOV .... that seems to be less aggressive ...

unless it is just my native sand and lack of water .. that keeps it inbounds ...


    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 8:51AM
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I'd have to agree that Lilly of the Valley isn't very attractive as the season rolls on, and yes--it's invasive and gets everywhere unless you contain it some.

That said, it hasn't hurt ventricosa 'Aureomarginata' much here, although the plant came with my house, has probably been around for over a decade, and is still small.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 8:55AM
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That vA should probably be bigger than that if it "came with your house". My guess is that LOTV is choking it.

Another consideration is that a carpet of LOTV is going to keep rain and other overhead water from getting to the root system. As shown in this pic, water is kept on the leaves and will evaporate before it falls to the ground.

All the more reason to consider a different plan than hosta amongst LOTV.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 9:32AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I do have a huge patch of LOTV right by my driveway,but it is still nowhere near my hostas. I did stick a small clump down in my woods,but,to date it is still staying small. Phil

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 10:09AM
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anyone i give LOTV to i tell them to keep it away from anything else...

that thing can travel "miles" (well,,,NOT miles),,underground and you will NEVER get rid of came with my house also...back in 1979...and i STILL have is as bad as that "carp" Bishop's Weed...


    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 11:19AM
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I agree, thisismelissa. I haven't bothered moving it because it's pretty well entrenched there and, given that it's right under a red maple, it would be a pain to dig out, anyhow. I posted it to show an example of how lily of the valley isn't a very hospitable underplanting for hostas, since it kept this one stunted. (I'm sure the maple roots and canopy and lack of moisture helped, too.)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 1:27PM
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bernd ny zone5

I had a patch of LOTV, became too invasive, got dug out. I think LOTV is a perfect hiding space for slugs inbetween hosta fests.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 4:58PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I have chopped out holes in my LOTV and plunked in hostas many times over the years but they don't survive. They dwindle each year down to nothing. I've been digging the LOTV out for ten years or more and still can't get rid of it.

Hellebores have no problem with it but Corydalis, Hostas, Dicentras, Huecheras, Tiarellas and ferns have all been smothered. If there weren't trees and mature shrubs in the bed I'd dig the whole thing out to a depth of at least a foot to try to get rid of the LOTV. Love the fragrance but it is a terrible thug for me.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 8:50PM
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garden_crazy(z5 N IL)

I have LOTV growing between a sidewalk and a north wall, about 24' x 3'. The LOTV has been there for over 30 years. Because it gets so raggy looking in the late summer, I decided to plant some hostas with it.l I have 5 that have been there for 3-7 years. (some added after the first two survived). I choose more vigorous taller varities. They do fine, not as beautiful as if grown in a bed, but still look good. The soil is also less than great as it is full of pea gravel from the foundation. -Nontheless, they are doing fine. -I have Twilight, Li'l Abner, Sun Power or August Moon-don't remember, Midwest magic and lastly, Ultramarine which doesn't do as well and will probably be moved this year. -Good Luck!!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:04PM
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We have some LOTV issues here. You certainly can't plant minis amongst them if you want to see the minis.

I find them, still, a little distracting from the Hostas, almost as bad as Sweet Woodruff, though SW is so much more easily pulled out by the handful to expose small or minis like Tiaras, and plant labels. And SW makes a great addition to the compost pile, for the green component.

Good luck pulling all the tough roots of LOTV! That would be a major tilling and removing all traces of their roots, not a realistic goal.

Even 'Old Fashioned' Bleeding Heart has some invasive tendencies here, and will overshadow even big Hostas in our gardens. We've had to dig a few of them out. We like the other Bleeding Heart, also a voracious spreader, but easily pulled and a constant flowerer if dead-headed.

Another local native, Feverfew, has been little problem. It's easily pulled, has nice flowers, and makes great tea.



    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:57PM
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gayle0000(zone 5-Normal IL)

Thanks for the responses.

Still considering the idea despite the negatives. Will keep tossing the idea around. I'm 50/50 about my idea.

Taking the stunted growth comments to heart. Containing the perimeter of a LOTV patch is nothing compared to inner drip lines of plants. I know that. Hence, my Q about corralling the drip lines of the hosta...tight screening (or something like that) deep plus a few inches up at drip lines.

Don't have problems with LOTV turning ratty here. Actually, it's fabulous 3-season interest here. Spring flowers, summer upright growth, yellow after a couple frosts in the fall. That's why I'm preferring the LOTV for my vision.

Never had a problem with it "jumping".

I've still go thinking to do.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 9:42AM
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bernd ny zone5

I remember when I had to plant a new bush, those white LOTV runners were everywhere up to 6-8 inches underground. Runners were underground by more than a foot length without showing a leaf. So when you want a hosta in there you would need a 10 inch deep barrier against those runners. Perhaps brown aluminum flashing for roofs would be a good idea. It is not as bad as pachysandra, with which I had 6 inch thick dense mats of runners.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 3:52PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


How about putting the hosta in a good sized plastic nursery pot and putting that in the middle of the LOTV patch. That should allow the hosta to grow without root competition from the LOTV. Some people do this when planting beneath maple trees.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 5:21PM
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I have several patches in and around my hosta. I love the huge bouquets I get to give away! I spend a lot of time each spring after it blooms digging it out from my hosta's drip line. I want them in the same bed but I do not want them intermingling. I can't see how the LOV wouldn't choke the hosta if they were allowed to be too near. I find yearly thinning keeps them from getting too matted and impossible to dig. I believe once planted one can NEVER get rid of LOV. As a novice gardener in a new space I planted LOV in my front bed. Within two months I knew it was too sunny for them. I dug them up. That was 11 years ago. Each year I find one or two lone leaves popping up from root that was left behind. I expect to be digging them for the rest of my life. Oh well maybe it will keep me from digging and rearranging hosta!! No doubt the LOV will get away from me one day, and by the time someone new owns my gardens they will spend much time cursing me as the dig dig dig it out. I am ok with that.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 6:35PM
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The pink-flowered LOTV is not nearly as invasive as the white one.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 8:24PM
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bernd ny zone5

Hosta beds have nice soil, get mulch, get fertilized, get plenty of water, insects get taken care of, rodents get taken care of, a perfect habitat for most groundcovers to explode in. Therefore, watch out!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 8:38AM
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bernd ny zone5

Hosta beds have nice soil, get mulch, get fertilized, get plenty of water, insects get taken care of, rodents get taken care of, a perfect habitat for most groundcovers to explode in. Therefore, watch out!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 8:40AM
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Before I started my garden, the only two things planted by the former owners were LOTV and a few daylilies. The LOTV wasn't planted in any sort of bed, just right into the extremely rocky ground. When I started to landscape and wanted to remove some of it, I found that to be no easy task. The roots were DEEP and found their way around and under all those rocks. I removed about half of what was there and still have a veritable ocean of the stuff. I dug a trench around the part I wanted to leave as groundcover, and buried a plastic barrier there. So far it keeps it pretty well contained and away from the hosta, though one or two do pop through from time to time and I used Round Up on those stray bits in the Spring. This year I may get out the pick axe and try to carve out a bit more of the stuff to expand my hosta bed, but we'll see if I'm up for it in another few weeks.

It is pretty when in bloom and luckily mine doesn't get ratty looking til late in the season. I think I actually like it enough to not completely get rid of it, but knowing what I do now, probably wouldn't intentionally plant it directly into a bed with other plants....not without some sort of barrier to help keep it in bounds.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 12:31PM
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