Growers of potted up hosta

josephines123 z5 ON CanadaApril 8, 2014

I've entered into the potted up hosta world as an experiment to find out what the advantages and disadvantages are to growing potted hosta and to see if I've got what it takes to stick to it, to actually succeed at it.

Seeing Dave's thread, thinking of Mocc in Alabama, Paula in Florida, Bkay in Texas, Babka in California and others I can't recall at this instant...I really want to understand what it's all about and your commitment to it. It's not just sticking a plant in a pot and letting it to grow.

My foremost thought is " they are safer from slug damage" .
Secondly, they are portable, occupy less space.....which adds up to - " I can have more".

> > > I would be very interested in hearing more about the reality aspect....for example...what is your worst pet peeve...squirrels seem to rank high up there... What aspect of growing in pots do you NOT like or have patience for?....but you do it anyway. What are the aches and pains of pot growing - and don't hold back.

I see countless examples of beautifully growing potted hosta. I would love a true perspective of "behind the scenes" .

This inquiring mind wants to know.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been growing Hostas in pots for years in the uk
I'm not the best one to give advice as I live in a very
different climate to you but I have learnt many valuable
1 get the right mix 50% peat 50% small bark/pine chippings with alittle slow release fertiliser
2 pot up slowly,keep the roots pot bound as much as you dare
3 feed early on with alfalfa pellets later with bonemeal
4 I like to have the crown about 2 inch deep from the top of the soil
5 water with ammonia 10-1 early and stick copper tape around top of pot
6 if you can keep pots off the ground I use old tree stumps
7 water well when hot and avoid black pots
8 keep in semi shade where you can

Hope some of these tips will help you on your way


    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 3:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida

When you are a pot head you have to be dedicated to watering, a lot. And water with a bubbler visiting every pot. Sprinkling from the top doesn't get the job done.
Pot according to root size. Going over sized thinking that it will grow into it does not work. Only pot up 1" around root ball.
Feed often. I use a fast draining mix that truly has no long term nutritional value so I give Miracle Grow weekly, weakly.
I like pots. I feel I have more control over my plants welfare. My plants are on raised platforms as I do not want to bend. Squirrels have not been a big problem. I have removed most of their favorite places in my yard. I also have one squirrel hunter but she is lazy and a Union cat. Just a few thoughts Paula

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 5:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jadie88(7 MD)

I have almost half of mine in pots (so close to 50). For me, the big draw is control over growing conditions. I have the privilege of gardening in heavy clay, so pot culture lets me take the easy way out. Being able to move them around anywhere is also a big draw. We are only living here for another 2 years while my husband finishes his residency, so keeping them in pots will facilitate the exodus. :)

I'm a newbie at hosta but a long-time "pothead," and I find that as long as you get the media right, it's smooth sailing. I make a fast draining mix, basically a rough take on the 5-1-1 mix that's popular all over gardenweb. It's cheap, easy, and I haven't lost any so far!

I'll leave the advice to the pros!!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 5:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

2014 will be my second year growing in pots, I've been growing hostas in the ground for, uhhh, about as long as I've been married, so that makes it 16 years! Defin stepped up the volume in the last year or so, though (we all know how that goes). I decided to go to pot-growing for some of mine because of space (or lack thereof) and number, as well. I've got about 250 now, with 200 of them in pots--how did that happen? I also like that I can arrange and rearrange for the best placement and I don't have to have big gaps or filler in between hostas that aren't yet "mature", but can present a tight-spaced look all the time.

Anywho, I have learned a lot this past winter. If you'll remember, I asked a question in the Winter about can hostas be too dry when dormant? (or something like that). I found out this Spring, the answer is yes, they can. About 30 or so of mine got WAY too dry and are struggling to break dormancy. I am rehydrating them and they seem to be taking to that just fine, but I learned the lesson. I'm going to add some water, bit by bit next year. Just enough to keep them healthy and not having to struggle so.

I also do the 5-1-1 mix and that works well for me. Slow-release fertilizer in the top of the pot and water in the top of the pot, not the top of the hosta. When I pot up, I try to match pretty close to the rootball size, so that the hosta gives a better show up top and I only pot up when it's obvious (roots coming out of the bottom or distorted pot) that it wants out!

I am still experimenting and I'd say my biggest hurdle right now is overwintering. Hopefully, next year's plan will solve most of that. We shall see.

Paula, what the heck is a bubbler?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 8:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i would think.. in new york city.. they are also more portable...

you really think no one will walk away with them???

i would find some bigboxstore CHEAP undulata.. learn with them.. and see if you still have them.. come fall ... and if you literally lose them.. so be it ...

BTW ... potting up means moving them from a smaller to a larger pot ... shall we presume.. you do not want a discussion on that system??? .. just making sure we are all talking about the same subject ...


    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 8:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bchosta 8b west coast canada

In my opinion there's lots of really good advice and commentary here from those who have tried, erred and learned along the way. I wish I'd had access to the suggestions way back when! I began by planting in the ground. My first mistake was to improve the soil. It turned out to be mostly for the benefit of the trees that were quick to respond with an army of roots.When I caught on and moved onto pots, my mix (at the suggestion of a local nursery) included landscape soil and amender which proved to be a bit heavy, resulting in some rotting roots. I've learned to add more bark mulch to my mix and I no longer add any soil. What's more, I try and keep the plants somewhat protected during wet, cold spring days to avoid a similar eventuality.
Finally, the chief benefit - being able to compose different combinations of plants within a season and from one year to another as the plants grow and mature. I'll also move them to accomodate lighting differences over the season. Even in a small garden, everything changes - easily and often, with the flexibility afforded by a containerized community!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 9:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida

funn, the spray heads with usually 3 or 5 choices on them has one where it just delivers water in a gentle way. No spray just bubbler-ing. This way I can deep soak a pot without blowing away the soil and with the long wand style I can reach under leaves easily. Have a great day, Paula

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 9:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bchosta 8b west coast canada

Forgot to include a tip which I now utilize frequently... use inexpensive nursery grow pots to place inside more decorative containers - it's easier when you want to get the hosta out and also allows you to put a smaller container into a larger one if the hosta isn't ready for such a spacious residence as yet!
Lugging large heavy containers around is also not good for one's health! A bantemweight container within a heavyweight one remedies that problem, and allows you to keep gardening with a powerful punch!

This post was edited by BChosta on Tue, Apr 8, 14 at 21:54

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 9:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I find that pots are much easier to move, so if for some reason your shade isn't adequate, because as seasons move on, the sun exposure and time changes... You can move it to a more suitable location just by picking it up and doing so. No messing with digging them out of the ground or just watching them sunburn and wilt away. Several of my friends have this problem with their hosta. I keep telling them pots are the way to go for that.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
josephines123 z5 ON Canada

I'm happy to see some momentum happening but will clarify quickly...Ken, you are correct in your assumption...I was using loose language ("potted up hosta")but meant hosta that were growing in lazy...too many words. ... You get days like that too right? lol :-)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you want free nursery pots, go to your local Lowe's, Menard's or Home Depot, find the rack where they store their empty pots after they have dumped out the contents, usually somewhere up front. Most of them will give you all you want, just ask. I have obtained hundreds of them this way, plus a lot of carrier trays, from 4" up to 15 gallon tree pots, they just need to be washed and disinfected. They usually collect them until they have a skids worth, then stack and wrap them to send back, so you are actually saving them some labor.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bkay2000(8a TX)

Jo, your issues are going to be so different than mine, I feel totally unable to offer much advice. I'm beginning to belive that not everything does well in a pot. There are things you can grow that I can't. After that, it's down to the basics. Water a lot. Make sure you have really good draining soil and pots, pot feet, and be extra careful of getting your hosta wet and cold in the early spring.

Feel free to ask anything. I'm willing to share what I've learned.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tiddisolo z8 Wales UK

If there is one thing I have learned in the time I have been growing Hostas in pots it is that there is no one right way of doing things. Too many variables especially climate to make that possible. When I lived in the south east of the UK all my pots were hooked up to an automatic watering system. Here in Wales no need so far as rainfall is considerably higher. Yes if I get a dry spell the hose comes out in the evening and they all get a good soaking.
UK gave his take on how to grow in pots, I can contradict some of his pointers because it works for me.
I use the 5-1-1 mix with a base fertilizer added.
For the smaller plants I give them fresh potting mix every 2 years if they don't need moving up.
For the bigger ones, I have some in 35 litre pots, they get a change every 3 - 5 years.
I use exclusively black pots
I don't raise them up on feet
So far I only feed a balanced liquid feed around August time ( going to try a slow release granular fertilizer as a top dressing in the next few days as I want it on before they leaf out )
I only pot on into larger pots when the roots are pushing out the base of the pot.
I tend to favour the crown right on the surface of the soil.
Most Hostas are tough and want to grow ( see Ken's driveway ), give pot culture a try, experiment and enjoy.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

Thanks for the clarification, Paula. You had me scratching my head on that one! :)

I second the riding high principle of potted hostas, I tend to want to see the crown as well, not bury it. I know you do that, as well, Jo.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 4:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
josephines123 z5 ON Canada

This thread reads like a wonderful journal! So many good tips, etc.

I will acknowledge later but have a couple of questions:

1. Dave...why do you exclusively use " black pots". For esthetics or otherwise?

2. Prologue... I performed a root check in the fall of the potted hosta I had purchased that year and found roots coming out of the bottom. The sides of the rootball had a few roots showing but didn't appear to me to need up-potting ( just my guess) so I added a sprinkling of potting soil to the bottom of a same-sized empty pot, plunked the potted hosta on top of the soil to shelter the protruding roots and left it double potted for the winter.

Question..when weather permits, should I repot in a DEEPER pot to accommodate the longer roots? (Dave, you said you up-potted automatically when roots protruded). I don't think it needs up potting yet, or does it? As you experienced hosta lovers say, they like tight quarters....that is where I might err. I had to repot my minis...they were in too big a pot. I was treating them as a typical perennial.

3. Paula addressed her watering regimen which made me think...we can usually see at a glance when a plant needs water...but that is harder to determine with a hosta with just a glance.

Q: how much water is TOO much water for a potted hosta (growing in a gritty, loose mix)...

4. I like perlite in a mix and I've added it to my garden soil as well. I left the bag open all day last summer, exposed to scorching sun and observed how warm it was to the touch. My understanding is that it only occupies space in the pot, allowing water to flow freely throughout the additional ingredients of bark fines and peat and/or potting soil.

Q: With all these " light weight" ingredients, does it ever get too warm? (In Scorching summer heat). Watering would solve that but it would be very easy to overlook a few - leading up to a dry and heat stressed hosta.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 8:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Babka NorCal 9b

We have no rain here in Summer, so I hand water. Hard water salts build up in my pots so I have to flood them to flush them out.. Blankity, blank yucky, icky horrible pearlite floats to the top of the pot. It gets stuck in-between deck boards FOREVER. I hate, hate, hate perlite. When I pot up other annuals for, say, hanging baskets, or other pots, I only buy potting mix that has pumice or something other than freeking miserable pearlite. My hostas go into mini 1/4" fir bark. I only have to water them every 4-6 days. as the bark retains moisture.

Hosta roots grow out sideways then when they hit the sides of the pots, they head down. Just because roots come out the bottom doesn't mean the plant is pot bound. The whole center of the pot might have no roots. Best way to know if it needs to to up potted is to slide it out and have a look-see.

Hostas don't grow well in the ground here. (Silicon Valley). We don't freeze, and it is unacceptable to see bare dirt in Winter, when we can have flowering broad-leafed evergreen things. Every square inch of my weanie California tract home lot is planted with something that stays green all year around. I can hide my pots where I don't see them in Winter, then move them on the deck to see them all the time in Summer.
I've been using black pots for years...or green Monrovia ones. I place them so the sun doesn't shine on the pots. One gal and 2 gal pots can often go inside other plastic planters to keep the sun from directly heating their roots.

I have been growing hostas in pots since the late 1990's and I have NEVER lost a hosta being too dry during dormancy. Ever. I don't get new tc's in Fall. I generally buy hostas in Spring with the occasional Summer splurge for a "gotta have" one. As they go into dormancy (late Oct or Nov), they get one last fungicide drench, then nothing until they are up over an inch. I make sure of that by putting them in a space that is covered with a tarp to keep out our Winter rains.

I know when a pot is "heavy" that it has plenty of water. When it feels "light" it is time to water. I try to catch them before any leaves get soft. When you caress the leaves often as I do ( yes, I know it is a problem I have) you can tell if a plant needs water by feeling the leaves.

The top inch in a pot can be very dry, while the bottom of the pot might still be wet. Poke your finger in the bottom hole to tell if things are dry, not at the top.

I've been doing this finger poking thing for WAY too many years.

YMMV Every region has different weather conditions.


I am writing this at such a weird hour because we just returned from a week in Waikiki. ;-)

This post was edited by Babka on Thu, Apr 10, 14 at 3:38

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 3:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
santamiller(8b TX)

When is the best time of the year to move a hosta to a larger/smaller pot?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 7:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jadie88(7 MD)

Babka, you have me laughing...don't hold back now: how do you REALLY feel about perlite?? :)

Checking the weight of the pot is definitely the way to go when evaluating dryness. It has proven pretty foolproof for this fool!

I do use black pots, mostly for aesthetic and practical reasons. They all match, and they are cheap or free.

I will also add that I only use pot feet for the pots on my deck/patio, not on the ones on the ground. There is a lot of discussion in the container forum about it. As long as you don't have waterlogged soil, putting the pot right on the ground helps to wick the water downward and lower the perched water level.

I thought I had "read it all" about potted hosta, but it's great to see all the different ways of doing things!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 7:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tiddisolo z8 Wales UK

Babka & Jadie88 have pretty much the same opinions as myself. Anyway for what its worth here are my thoughts on the questions you posed.

Black pots that I use are flexible and therefore easier to get plants out when they need re-potting. Bought in bulk I can get them cheaper, I don't like plastic terracotta coloured pots, I like the real thing but are way too heavy when the bigger sizes are required.

As I move them around in mass arrangements very little of the pot is seen if tiered large at the back and small at the front
. Roots out the bottom is always a good indicator of a plant needing re-potting. If on turning it out its just the odd stray root then back in it goes.

To answer santamiller the best time to re-pot is spring before active growth gets under way. However if during the growing season you find one crying out for re-potting then do it, it can only benefit the plant and certainly won't hurt it. Pot-bound over winter wont hurt the plant but disturbing it and potting into a greater volume pot means it sits in a medium that will hold moisture around it that it doesn't need and could cause it to rot.

Watering, go by weight of the pot, when did it last rain or when did you last water it. Bottom line if the pot is heavy you don't need to water, if it's light then get it soaked

I also use Perlite and or Vermiculite though given the choice I prefer Vermiculite as it doesn't float like Perlite. Unfortunately it's twice the price of Perlite so at the moment economics dictate. I know they have different properties but they both lighten the growing mix which is the main benefit.

If you get scorching heat and direct sun the pots will get too warm. If you get that sort of heat because you live in lower latitudes than I do, keep the pots in the shade and never let them dry out. Even here in Wales on my south facing hillside most of my plants are shaded by trees through the middle of the day and those that aren't tend to be in shade morning and evening.

Minis need a different approach to other hostas and I'm no expert having lost more than I have kept.
One of our prominent Hosta growers and writers, Sandra Bond told me to increase the drainage by adding grit to the mix and crocks to the bottom of the pot and to keep them dry during the winter. It seems to work but I have still lost quite a few and stay clear of most of the real minis. I have however managed to keep a couple of Pandora's Box going for the last five or six years.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 8:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
josephines123 z5 ON Canada

I've SO enjoyed the feedback on this thread! THANK YOU all so much:
UK-hostaman, Paula, Jadie, Funnthsun, Ken, BChosta, Brandy, Devon, Bkay, Dave, Babka.

My "how to" grow hosta well in pots knowledge (which was lacking) has just increased exponentially!

The most valuable lesson I learned has to do with water/moisture control - because that aspect would give me the most concern. Having it explained in detail gives me more confidence as I forge ahead into this unexplored territory. I always want to know the "why's" and a lot of them were answered here, some that I didn't have to ask about. :-)

Growing in the ground is, by far, the easier method! The biggest drawback is slugs who have an easy access. But in order to have an educated opinion on growing hosta in pots, I have to make a concerted effort in my attempt.

I have more information now than I had last fall; I will likely lose more potted hosta this year but hope not to;

I will over-winter them again this coming winter and compare mortality rate next spring. By that time, I should know whether I will continue to grow hosta in pots.

I'm very confident growing ANYTHING in the ground and my attitude is more relaxed as I try to apply common sense to gardening. .... but when it comes to anything potted, my confidence takes a dive ...I over-think things and tend to over-compensate. I have boasted about not losing a hosta YET but Dream Queen is a goner...I hope that is it for losses but am prepared for more (Spock logic, lol) as I potted so many hosta late last fall...much too late in the season to be doing that sort of thing. All that fresh media, all that moisture (heavy rainfall) ... Makes me cringe as I await the thaw ... And prepared for the worst.

If i mirror the experienced practices and tips offered in this thread, how can I do anything but succeed, right? Lol. I can only hope - and give it my best!

You have been very generous with your time, your invaluable knowledge, helpful hints, and as always, plenty of encouragement! I thank you.


P.S. Bkay, thank you for the offer - I will! (You would make an excellent teacher - it's about how you explain things)
Babka, I can see where perlite might drive someone sideways!! Your comments were priceless and Jadie was inside my head because that is EXACTLY how I usually respond time and again when someone is adamant about something. LOL always a good set-up for more humour! Aside from perlite - great comments also in rest of your post.
Dave, thank you for addressing my questions :-) and.... I am happy that PB is hanging in for you...I know of people who don't do well with that particular one!

I hope I haven't forgotten anything in my acknowledgements...if I did, I'll be back! :-)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 12:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I also would like to thank you all, I found this thread very useful. This year I had planned to planting the new arrivals in pots, ...thanks for the advice.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 3:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
josephines123 z5 ON Canada

LUUK - I am so happy you said that! It's a terrific and very helpful thread - can I say that? The only credit I take is the subject line! Lol

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 3:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

I must say I have found this thread to be informative and interesting. Each poster had good information to share, and I wondered whether there was anything that I could add. So here is my two cent's worth and my own experiences.

(1) There seems to be a wide range of soil mixture possibilities. I do what is easiest for me---Schultz or Miracle Grow Potting Soil + 25% bark nuggets or bark fines. But in 2011 I divided my Great Expectations and put half of it in a pot of MOISTURE CONTROL potting mix---that's supposed to be a NO-NO---with no bark additives. It has done very well, putting on new growth each year and has never been repotted! Go figure! (I'm crossing my fingers for this year.)

I like having control over the quality of the soil that my hostas are in. I have done a few experiments. For example, I split a hosta and put one part in the garden and one in a pot. Each time I have done this, the one in the pot grows better and produces more eyes.

(2) In the spring time, as the pots emerge, I try to put them on an old table for a period of time. If I have no room on the table, I cut plastic mesh to cover the top of the soil and pin it down with plant staples. This is to discourage squirrels from digging. They seem to be very aware of anything new in the garden. I am also planning to use Moc's cayenne pepper idea to deter squirrel digging. (It doesn't help that I feed the birds, and our family loves to watch them outside our kitchen window.) The bird food attracts the squirrels and other animals.

(3) Pots on my patio are placed on a raised platform. These would be a plant stand or a wooden square or wooden X that my husband has made out of leftover pieces of wood. I think that this protects the patio and reduces insect invasion. If insects become a problem, I put a slug pellet (that has insecticide) just under the pot.

(4) Pots placed on my patio do not receive the ammonia bath in spring. I have found very few slugs on these hostas. I just do my slug inspection about two to three times a week during the night for my hostas in the soil and in pots.

(5) I haven't been consistent with my use of fertilizer. I have generally felt that less is better than more. This season I will be using a weak mixture of water soluble fertilizer in the early spring (once or twice) and then granular 10/10/10 fertilizer. I will see if I can find a slow release, three month fertilizer. I never fertilizer to the maximum dose.

(6) The most challenging for me is overwintering. As I accumulate more and more pots, I need to figure out where to store them. At present, my most loved and best hosta go in the garage; the next bunch go into a northwest facing window well; and the rest are put (pot and all) into the ground. The garage works great (but my husband says there's no more room for hosta!). The covered window well seems to also work. Above the window well is a walkway made of wood. This means that some water can fall inside the well. In 2012 that didn't seem to be a problem. This last winter was a doozy---lots of snow and cold. The pots were covered with loose plastic. I think that the plastic protected the pots from getting too wet.

(7) When I see my hostas begin emerging, I start watering. Even hosta pots that are not "awake" now will receive a small amount of water. The soil is quite dry and resists water intake at first. If the weather continues to be mild, I will continue to add a small amount of water every few days or so to all my pots.

(8) If your adult child came to you one day and asked "How do I know I am in love?" or "How do I know he/she is the right one for me?" Your answer might be "You'll just know." That's the way I feel about knowing the right time to repot---you'll just know! Last year I only up-potted very few. One hosta was repotted because it had a lot of growth and the size of the pot didn't seem to be right; another hosta was repotted because it developed ragged edges and had not been repotted for two seasons and another hosta showed decline. Also, I try to remind myself to just tip the hosta out if I really want to know how the root system is doing. The only thing is that that works great for smaller pots and not so good for large ones.

I recently went to a Reference Library and picked up Diane Grenfell and Mike Shadrack's New Encyclopedia of Hostas and the New Encyclopedia of Hostas. I read with interest the following:

Hostas in the following groups should only be in pots for 2 to 3 years---the Elegans Group, the Golden Medallion Group and the Tokudama (because they develop a fibrous core at the crown which impedes their development if kept longer than 2 to 3 years). The Fortunei group is better for containers because of their finer root system.

Hmmmm. We'll have to prove them wrong, won't we?!!!!! That is interesting though.

So thanks Jo for coming up with the idea of this post. Good job! I write in the hopes that I can be an asset to the hosta forum in some way.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 9:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

I forgot to mention (and for some reason couldn't edit) that most pots I have overwintered in the soil are removed from the soil and relocated in a dryer place---away from spring rains.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 9:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
josephines123 z5 ON Canada

NHL, I've been waiting for you :-) ....the owner of an exceptional potted Brother Stefan! ... to name one of many beautifully pot grown hosta.

Thank you for your contribution to this, my " potting journal" which I share with everyone. As you so aptly put it, each poster has something good to share.

You stated that some of your pots go into the earth for the winter then you raise them out and protect from spring rains. It seems to work well for you...I recall a conversation we had about it. It would be something I would prefer to do as well but what stopped me from placing them in the earth last fall was the memory of the previous spring.

I only had a couple of newly purchased hostas in pots at the time, ran out of time and space to plant them except for digging a hole close to other hosta, plunking the pot in and saying goodbye for the winter. When spring came, my whole backyard was drenched, as it is every spring. I live at the bottom of an inclined street and get all the runoff - it doesn't help that the next door neighbour does not have a garden on one side to absorb some of the moisture.

The pots were frozen in place, water and ice were impossible to remove...I had to cut into the pot for it to drain - you may recall.

I spent a few hours working outside today, mainly to shovel off two feet of snow and ice off some of my pots, which were buried underneath. I had placed them in rows on 2 by 4 boards and I am glad I did because they were easy to dislodge...not being frozen to the ground.

I was dismayed to see how soaked through they were and had to rescue them. They were soaked through before they were tipped on their side last fall...we had so much rain...I had them more tilted than laying on their side. Some of the pots were misshapen from the weight of ice and snow.

It is a "wait and see" edge of your seat kind of thing now. What gives me hope is a comment Bkay made about partial rot, some dormant buds pushing through and the plant surviving...she explained it better but you get the idea. (I think it was one of Brandy's posts.)

I hope they dry out quickly with the windy conditions and lovely sunshine we are experiencing. If it calls for rain, they are going into the garage till rain stops...they hardly need more moisture! :-(

Should I be doing anything else with them???

I DO have another question for you GE the only one you have potted that is growing in potted soil with no additional amendments , or did you/will you try a few more in p. soil only since it is thriving so well for you?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 3:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida

One more tip: To keep roots from invading your pots when placing on ground use a ceramic floor tile under the pot. I use 12" and 16". Inexpensive at most diy stores.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 4:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

Oh, that's a great tip, Paula. Thank You!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 8:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bkay2000(8a TX)

I usually buy the big bags of potting soil at Sam's. One year, they only had moisture contol, so I bought it. It worked very well. The only problem with moisture control potting soil was the next spring, when rot got some of my smaller plants. I couldn't get them to dry out.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 11:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bkay2000(8a TX)

Jadie, I went to the container forum and couldn't pull up anything on pot feet, or more correctly, I got so many hits that I couldn't find anything. Then I searched for "pot feet" and got 2 hits there with no discussion.

What did they say?

I use pot feet to keep the slugs at bay. I hardly have any damage from slugs when I use them. I always have damage if I don't. Besides that, they look good, in my opinion.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 12:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Good morning! ,..or is it afternoon? .. Morning somewhere..

I went to see Engelbert Humperdinck in concert last night...late night...sorry...

Paula, that's such a great tip as you can get whatever size you need to match pot, I like that.

Bkay, I've seen some nice clay pot feet for about $2 each, actually the nursery I saw them at only had one kind. Mocc has those cute little derrière ones! I've gathered a few small pieces of wood from the stockpile in the garage for use as well. I will really appreciate the slug control they provide.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 12:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

Jo, it sounds like you are doing everything you can at the moment to help reduce moisture in your pots. Definitely put them in the garage should the rains begin.

If you had snow on your pots yesterday when you dislodged them, then it could be that they are still frozen. As you know, the excess moisture is a problem when the hosta begins growth in the spring. I would keep a close eye on them and at some point tip it out of its pot to inspect the roots and see how wet the center is. You may have to repot some.

That is all I can say right now. A bit more time will tell, but waiting isn't all that easy.

As for GE, I definitely know that it is in moisture control potting mix with no additives. I also know that I have a few other hostas in this soil, but I do not recall which ones they are. El Nino was one hosta that did not like moisture control potting soil with no additives so I changed that.

You know the saying "when you know better, you do better." So when I read the negative comments from hosta forum members regarding moisture control potting mix, I changed to just regular potting soil and added bark fines to it.

So I would not choose to put any of my hostas in moisture control potting mix with no additives now. I am just surprised that my GE has thrived in it. I am guessing that GE likes more moisture than the usual hosta. It overwinters in the garage where it pretty much dries out.

Good luck with your hostas. I do hope that all will survive and grow well for you.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 2:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Thank you for the kind words, NHL. :-).
I've never heard "when you know better, you do better" ... definitely applies here. I like that.

After I caught up reading here, I went out to get some supplies.(some pots, some potting soil too) readiness for some necessary repotting, if required for those which were dug out yesterday. When they are all defrosted I will tip and observe condition of roots.

If the roots all look ok (white and healthy and smell good) I should leave the plant alone even if it's extremely waterlogged? As has been mentioned, if rot ensues it usually comes when it warms up outside...will they have enough time to dry out, as they are coming out of dormancy, before that happens? These last hosta are still dormant.

I'm really tempted to help the drying process along - this is where I am unsure. I am an impatient sort - at this juncture I need to be guided by cooler heads I admit...until all my concerns are no longer concerns. (some understanding hand-holding required to get me through the toughest part, lol)

This is what my potting media looks like. I love the smell, the fluffy texture and my immediate response, when I finished mixing it up was Aaahhhh, I love this!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 3:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jadie88(7 MD)

BK, I agree, I like the 'finished' look of pot feet, and I do use them with my decorative patio pots, which sit on concrete or decking rather than on the ground.

The link is to the thread I had in mind. It's all you ever wanted to know about the movement of water through potting media. It seemed counter-intuitive to me that raising a pot off the ground doesn't improve drainage, but that's the idea here. Basically, a rough summary is that every media has a level at which gravity alone is no longer sufficient to draw water down through it. This is called the perched water level. (Do forgive me if you already know all was news to me when I started out a few years ago!)

When a pot is raised off the ground, the water drains out only to that "perched" level, then it just hangs out there. Not a problem if your media is well drained (has a low perched water level), but potentially rot-inducing if your media is finer (water perches at a higher level in the pot and keeps the roots and crown wetter, longer).

When the potting media is in contact with the earth, that perched water can continue to wick downwards and out. The soil acts as a sponge or a wick. Now, as someone with verrrry slow-draining clay soil, I do wonder about how different soil types effect this process. But anyway, that's kind of the Readers Digest version. What do you think?

Here is a link that might be useful: Tapla's container drainage thread

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 10:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Jadie, I think this is the very link Devon provided recently and which I had bookmarked. It's very thorough, covering fertilization, drainage, recipes for media mix, etc. (Al's gritty mix, for one)full of excellent information. Good of you to bring this to the forefront here.

The "perched water level" portion was really informative reading - your synopsis is perfect.

I'll have to remember that I learned how to insert links..a lot quicker than having to go hunting for them.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 11:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
paula_b_gardener 5b_ON(5b)

Hi everyone,

I have been growing quite a few of my hostas in pots for years. When I began growing them, I didn't know about the 'potting up' concept and I planted hostas that 'would' be big in big pots. The logic being that it would have room to grow. That first year I think I purchased 12 or so and the only large ones to make it were Jade Cascade and Blue Angel.

Trial and error, I sure wish I could have read this forum back then! I would have saved a lot of money. Anyway, it isn't really about the money, but that moment every spring when you see the buds start to emerge - success!

I overwinter many of my hostas in the black nursery pots in the ground, the rest are in the garage. In the early spring (now) when the snow begins to melt (finally) I cut the side of the plastic pot down about 2 inches to allow any trapped water to escape. As someone mentioned above, when they begin to grow I place some of the nursery pots in a decorative pot for the 'season' and the rest stay in the ground.

Great topic, I really enjoy learning what others do for success. UK_hostaman - even though you are in England and our climates are so different, your hostas are so magnificent that I pay attention to any advice that you give :)


    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 12:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

"If the roots all look ok (white and healthy and smell good) I should leave the plant alone even if it's extremely waterlogged? As has been mentioned, if rot ensues it usually comes when it warms up outside...will they have enough time to dry out, as they are coming out of dormancy, before that happens?"

Those are some tough questions that you are asking Jo! As to whether the pots will have enough time to dry out---that's a million dollar question. I would keep checking on them.
If a pot is extremely waterlogged, I don't think it should be left that way. I know you love your hostas as we all do, and, like you, I know I would not want to lose any of my babies! If you have time and energy, then repot (in that great mix you put together).

Use your hosternal instincts---my made up new word (LOL)---as in maternal instincts. It will lead you in the right direction!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 12:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi everyone, today I have made ​​several repotting, from small pots to big ones. The soil mix that I made is formed by 20% compost, 40% peat and 40% pumice. Considering your great experience, I wanted to know if you think it is a good soil, someone use pumice?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 1:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

...Josy, your potting soil looks very soft

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 2:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

Luuk, I don't use pumice, so I can't be of any help. I found a thread discussing pumice versus perlite. It is older, but thought you might like to see it, if you haven't already.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pumice versus Perlite

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 7:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bkay2000(8a TX)

Thanks for the link, Jadie.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 8:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Hello, LUUK, you just resurrected a memory of a dear departed friend...who used to call me that.. :-)

Your soil container is flexible, right? I wanted to pick one wheelbarrow isn't always empty in which to make my mix and I need something larger. I've seen them around...

I need to go and check out the link NHL provided to learn about the use of pumice. Your mix looks interesting and I'm curious.

The mix I prepared is a good one I drained quickly when I watered the newly-potted hosta and settled/anchored the plants nicely. They look great in their new pots instead of languishing in water. I'll take them outside tomorrow for a few hours as it's nice and warm. ;-)

I took the grand kids to the park today for a few was difficult not to think about the hostas. It was a perfect gardening day, lol. The ones that were brought out of dormancy all got kisses from my youngest granddaughter, so they are good to go! Every time she comes over, they all get kisses and she rearranges them on the windowsill. I think she loves Tiny Tears best as it's the first one she always mentions. I am blessed.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 10:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Newhostalady, thanks for the link with the thread, I found it interesting, but like Babka I also don't like perlite, I use it only for my pelargonium.

Josy, I hope you don't mind if I call you like that ;-)
yes the container is flexible and very light, I use it often when I work in garden.
I want to try your soil mix with bark pine and peat, using the percentage given by uk-hostaman, ...I'll do a trial with two plants of the same variety and size.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 7:47AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Hi, guys!
I’ve been reading the hosta forum for a couple of...
Anyone notice red leaf tips on 'Squash Casserole'?
Well, I did a day or so ago. Not just one or one eye,...
What have we ordered?
So far I have gotten a few new ones. What have you...
ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
YEA PIPS!!!!!!
Oh, wait a minute, those are tulips. : {
Jon 6a SE MA
Sponsored Products
Ivy Ball on Stem in Plastic Grower Pot
$199.00 | FRONTGATE
Austram Lotus Bench - 22010526
$130.53 | Hayneedle
Austram Splash Bench-Red Multicolor - 22012325
$140.51 | Hayneedle
Calcot Supima Cotton Zero Twist 600 GSM Bath Towels (Set of 2)
Strawberry Gravity Grow Garden
$14.99 | zulily
Pretty Peacock Gravity Grow Garden
$14.99 | zulily
Austram Splash Bench-Yellow - 22012025
$143.96 | Hayneedle
Shelterlogic Organic Growers Decorative Greenhouse
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™