bare root planting question

dolivoMay 15, 2012

Hi All! First time Hosta newbie here! I just got 20 bare root hosta plants. I've never planted anything bare root before this; so I really had NO idea what I was doing!

I planted them in two different shady areas. the first area I planted first I put everything (meaning the roots AND those little white pointy things - sorry I don't know what they are called-) under the soil. A good inch under the soil.

Then I got paranoid that I did it wrong. So the second area I planted them in I left just a tiny bit of the tip of those white pointy things sticking up above the soil.

Please, which way is right? does it matter? If I planted the first section wrong (too far under the soil) should I dig them up right away and replant them? or will they work their way up and out ok?

thanks for any help!

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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Welcome dolivo. Do you know what the cultivar names of the Hosta are? Where did you buy them from?

Here's a general guide for planting from one of the best online nurseries.

"General Crown Depth

Mini: 1/2", Small: 1", Medium: 1 1/2", Large: 2", Giant: 2 1/2" (from surface to the top of crown or base of the eyes) Note: Dormant hostas should not have any eyes showing after planting since dormant buds only grow below the surface. Some plants grow eyes horizontally and these should always be buried completely. Red stemmed hostas should be planted about 1/2" deep as they are more sensitive to rot from moist or compact soil."

The link is below. Take a look.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hallson Hosta Growing Information

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 6:17AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

in my z5 MI.. the 'pips' are all above ground ...

if you look close on a bare root plant .. you will see roots ... and you will see pips/eyes ...

there is actually.. a third part.. and that is the potato-like interface between the two.. and that is the crown ... and the crown should be .. basically at ground level ...

on smaller plants.. check back in fall.. and make sure they didnt sink ...

some hosta are rhizomatic ... they grow on underground runners.. and those are planted differently ..

but my best suggestion re planting.. PLANT ROOTS DOWN... they do a lot better that way ... though.. it wont actually stop them.. if you do it the other way .. lol ... in fact.. wait for it.. if you throw on of them on the driveway.. with a small heap of soil.. it will actually grow there ... so dont waste to much energy 'worrying' about them ...

and given basic soil that drains.. just try to drown them.. and they will thrive ...

come back often.. we are great enablers ...


ps: i hope that wasnt 20 of one kind.. thats an anathema to my collector bones ....

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 7:53AM
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thanks so much, Steve and Ken. :-)
I am assuming from what you both said that I planted them ok. From what you've said, mine were "dormant" because there were NO green stuff growing yet. So planting the whole plant, white pointy things and all, under the soil is fine.
I do realize now however that I planted them wrong another way. I didn't dig a deep enough hole and "stand them up" with the roots spread out. I just basically layed the roots out all one way in a long hole because the whole thing kind of seemed to naturally lay that way.
HOWEVER, from what you're saying about Hostas, it seems this will not deter them from growing, yes? Sounds like they will take pretty much anything you do and make the best of it. So is the consensus that I should just leave them alone and they will be fine?
P.S. Ken, no they weren't the same kind. They are 4 different varieties of hostas that came in a Starter Shade Collection.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 9:34AM
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Going back to your original post you said you planted half of them a "good inch under the soil", and emphasized "everything". To me, that is too deep. Generally when you look at bare rooted hostas you can often see where the "eyes" change from a whitish color to green. Proper planting would normally place where the color change takes place at the soil line (green above and white below). IMO, those 50% are planted too deep.

In answer to another question you have asked, "does it make a difference" the answer is yes. If planted too deep the hosta will be subject to crown rot, regress and eventually die.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 11:09AM
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Steve_mass, this is what I bought from White Flower Farm:

Here is a link that might be useful: starter shade collection

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 11:29AM
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jan_on zone 5b

"with a small heap of soil"???????
We have been counselled repeatedly by ken that they will grow "on the driveway" but never before have I noticed a mention of SOIL! Is he backpedalling? Taking out insurance?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 1:19PM
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To quote my parrot: "You're so funny!"
And he knows what he's saying too. :)

I wish you well on your shade starter kit. If you like the way those grow, you'll be tempted to try more. And that's where this forum excels. No going back after that. You're hooked on hosta.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 1:31PM
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thanks everybody for your help! I just went out and dug up and replanted the first section. I planted them so that just the tippity tips of the pips were peakin' above the soil. I'm sure you will all hear from me alot this year as I seem to have questions about stuff regularly! oh, wait, here's one: I planted a ring of hosta's around a medium sized tree in our yard. I know I have to be careful due to root competition. What should I be doing to make sure my hosta's grow good there? ex: fertilizing, etc? Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 3:57PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


Lots of water. If we don't get an inch of rain during the week you should provide it. When we get to the middle of summer and get a heat wave they will need extra water to stay cool. As for fert give em a shot of miracle grow liquid for a quick fix, then use a slow release fert like MG slow release granules or Espoma Plant Tone if you like organic ferts. Where are you located? That makes a big difference in terms of cultural practices.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 4:42PM
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I am in south central montana. We basically had no winter this year, no moisture, and it's unusually hot already for May. (85 degrees yesterday and today) so I'm guessing I will be watering my plants A LOT this summer. I don't know what kind of tree they are planted around. I can post some pictures later today. :-)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 4:50PM
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