Growing Hostas in the sun

ChandlaJune 7, 2012

If this topic has been addressed before, I apologize.

I'm more than a little devastated today. We don't have a huge back yard, but right in the middle of it is a 100 year old, GIGANTIC Maple. It shades our entire backyard. Because of this amazing tree, we've been lucky to plant a large variety of gorgeous Hostas. The Hostas border along all three sides of our privacy fence and along the back of our home.

We just found out that the tree is diseased and has to come down. It is the only tree we have. :((( Our Hostas will now be in full sun all day. The only Hostas that aren't directly shaded by that tree are the ones planted along the house. The house shades them all day.

How will our Hostas fare? Is there a way to care for them in order to keep them ? Is there ANYTHING we can do? The thought of losing them to the sun after 'collecting' them for 20 years is breaking my heart.

Thanks in advance for any help or advice !! Echo

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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

How far north are you? Zone and latitude.

Firstly, they won't die, but likely the first year they will all burn mid-summer. They won't be used to the amount of sun they are getting.

Secondly, many on this forum grow Hosta in full sun (6 hours of direct sun or more). However, you have to be far enough North to do this. The link below is to Don_r's garden. He is in Michigan and grows a lot of his Hosta in full sun.

Thirdly, are you planning to replace the tree? If so I would recommend you buy the largest Oak you can afford. You may be surprised at how well your Hostas grow when released from the invasive tyranny of Maple roots.


Here is a link that might be useful: Don_r's Garden

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 12:03PM
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Thanks so much, Steve. I am so worried that they'll die. We must be close to Don...we're in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I had to look up our latitude. 44.51.

Will watering them and keeping their 'feet' cool help in any way to keep them from burning ? Or should we just let nature run it's course and hope for the best ?

The tree is coming down today and we've asked them to do an extensive stump/root removal. We're hoping with the root removal, the Hostas will, in fact, grow better. Some stay quite small and we've always suspected that the trees roots were part of the problem. With that in mind (and because I don't have 40 years to wait for a tree to fully grow LOL) we're opting to not replace it. Just yet. We're going to live with the void for awhile before deciding on another tree or a fire pit in it's place. Our Arborist made the same recommendation you go to a GOOD nursery and invest in the largest root ball Oak we can afford and have a cherry picker bring it in. We'll see...

Thanks again for reassuring me. I feel a little better. :D

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 12:20PM
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Gesila(MI Z5)

Hi Chandla,

I grow about 200 varieties of hostas in full sun. I live about 30 miles south of Don R. The only one that won't grow for me in the sun is Sum of All. I took out a maple tree this winter since it's roots cause more problems than the sun.

When it's really hot, I spray mine with mists of water to keep them cool.

If you find that some of your hostas are really failing in the sun, dig them up and see if it's roots are tangled up with maple roots. If so, rinse the roots off and replant. You'll find the ones that are tangled with maple tree roots will require tons of water when the sun is shining on them.

I pulled out a very small Moonstruck last week. The amount of maple tree roots trangled up in it was larger than the entire hosta.

Since your tree will no longer be producing roots and sucking up the water, your larger hostas may not have to be de-rooted.

Give me the sun anyday over maple tree roots!


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 1:02PM
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I moved about 25 hosta to full sun last spring.
This spring, they're all doing just fine.

I have another area that's full sun in midday, they're all fine.

HOWEVER, they definitely require more water.

If you take the tree down yet this year, the hostas will go crispy really fast and you'll probably think they're dead. They're not. They're shocked.
Next spring, they'll bounceback just fine.

I'm in the Twin Cities, just a bit south of you at 44.42.

If you want to minimize your crispiness, take the tree out after your hosta have gone dormant. Best yet... do it at the end of winter when the ground is still frozen and it's less likely that the tree dudes will damage anything planted around the maple.
There WILL be large branches dropped from tall heights.
THAT will pose the greatest damage to your garden.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 11:44PM
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Thanks for the great information, Melissa ! I wish we could have kept the tree up, but the trunk was badly split and we feared that any strong wind was going to bring it down and hurt someone.'s gone. I've been crying since yesterday. I'm a sap. LOL

I appreciate you're telling me that crispy leaves don't mean they're dead. That really made me feel SO much better about this. Here's a weird question: Should I just cut them back now instead of waiting for the sun to burn them up? Or would that be even MORE stressful for them? My husband thought that if we cut them back and covered them with mulch they might be better off...

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 11:35AM
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peggy_hosta(z4 neSD)

How about building a lattice canopy or fabric covered canopy? Instant shade!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 12:11PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

How handy are you and/or your husband with a hammer (or hire a handyman). Here's an idea--see the link below. That guy built an arbor to provide shade for his hosta. You could build one on each side of the privacy fence. Doesn't need to cover the entire length of the fence, but would provide 3 specific areas where you could cluster your favorite hostas. (The hosta shadowed by the house can take care of themselves, I assume.) It can't take that long to build such an arbor, and I think it has a charming look in that posters hosta bed.

Well, it's an idea anyway. Good luck.


Here is a link that might be useful: Shade Arbor over hosta

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Kate, my husband is a carpenter by trade, so building an arbor would be no problem. We're up against time, though. The tree came down yesterday morning and I was just outside walking the garden. It's VERY hot here today and full sun and some of the leaves are already burning. :(((

I'll ask my husband how fast we can throw one together. Thanks for the link. The arbor was gorgeous and the garden is amazing !!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 1:34PM
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bernd ny zone5

You should sprinkle the hostas with water immediately.
You can somehow immediately put up blinds made out of 1x2s and fabric. I shaded new plants (also dwarf conifers) for the first year after planting in the past. New plants do not have the root system to take up enough water to survive in the heat. I used spun fabric, burlap or landscape fabric, whatever I had. I cut holes into the landscape fabric (black) and spray painted it white. Plants survived even when it did not look pretty.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 2:41PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

A few poles and some shade cloth will work as an emergency measure. You can get polypropylene shade cloth with different densities, I have some white which is 50% shade, and some tan which is 70%, but it comes in many flavors over the internet.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 3:46PM
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I have a couple of Earth Angel Hostas and a Abiqua Drinking Gourd Hosta that all get sun in the morning and again in the evening when the sun is low in the sky. They're not supposed to be sun tolerant, but they are all doing fine.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 3:52PM
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Many years ago, I discovered a product called MetaPosts. I discovered it was then sold by Aubuchons Hardware up in New England, and I ordered some. They are spikes on the bottom, like 2 feet long, you put in the top a short piece of 4 x 4 and then wham it into the ground. Then you put your real 4 x 4 into the top of the Metapost, and proceed to build what you want. They can be backed out of the hole to be reused somewhere else.

Later on I found some at Home Depot, different name, but same sort of product. You can buy about 6 of them and put up a temporary shade structure or a shade sail which will work for this season.

Sorry about the loss of your big tree, but it might be a blessing in disguise. The oak is a fantastic idea. I'm looking out the window here at a live oak in the neighbor's yard, and it is easily 60 - 80 feet tall. Mostly the live oaks shed leaves quickly in the spring when the new leaves push the old ones off. So never a bare tree. And clean up is done quickly too with a leaf blower.

I have a shade structure built, but with all my busy days have yet to lay the shade cloth over it or lay the newspaper weed barrier and pine bark down before moving the hosta in containers back to this area. But, after it stops storming next week, that is top priority on my agenda. I only have 12 more hosta due to ship Monday (plus a "nice bonus plant they say) and then the garden here is set for the summer. Talk about sun, you stand a lot better chance with full sun than we do in zone 9a.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 5:15PM
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As long as it's green, it's sending energy to the roots.
Wait until they grow crispy or you will stunt their growth for next year.
Just remember to start watering NOW so that when the heat comes (as it already has here today, over 90 degrees), they're properly hydrated. Don't wait till the heat gets there, do it NOW!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 11:04PM
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Rather than plant one huge oak, you might consider planting several smaller trees. I planted some flowering cherries and an eastern redbud last year and they're growing quickly. And I have several dogwoods on my lot, but no huge trees, and still the only hosta that's burned badly for me was Frances Williams despite all the sun they get.

I'm sure your hostas will grow back fine next year, and probably better than ever.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 12:00AM
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I also will have to grow my hostas in the sun. I have to transplant them from the front of my house to the back to a new circular garden that is in the old pool space and it receives about 6 hrs of sunlight from about 11am to 4pm. I live in western NY. There are a row of pines along the south lot line belonging to the neighbor. I have read the above messages and they make me feel a bit better about the transplanting which I will do in the evening. Thank you for the above. Are there any ideas on what to put with them. I have to transplant all flowers among them day lilies and agapanthus and 3 roses bushes.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 6:57AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


I just did the same thing with an above ground pool. I dismantled it and put a garden in it's place. I only put one Hosta there, however, because it's full sun from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Here's that Hosta.

It's doing well thus far despite the all day sun. I'm giving it a lot of water. I planted a small tree just to the right of the Hosta in the picture, but it's not providing really any shade at all yet. Eventually it will. You might want to include some small trees in your circular garden. I've got several conifers and a Stewartia pseudocamelia in mine.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 8:36AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hosta are ONLY shade TOLERANT ... they can do just fine in sun ... but need lots of water ...

they will actually grow faster and mature faster in sun ...

but they will be ugly as heck in later summer ... but they will grow huge roots ...

below is a pic of what i had to build for my white skinned redheaded freckled boy ... just some 4 x 6 posts ... and 2x 8 spans.. i think ..... and shade cloth ...

order shade cloth and the thingees to hold the cloth at ... i think that is 60% shade cloth ...

your only real problem... is that the leaves there are not hardened off to full sun.. and will most likely crisp up pretty fast ... but the next flush.. will be fully acclimated to sun.. and then it will just be left to you to water them well

you are basically in the same boat as anyone who gets decimated by a bad hail storm ... such is life.. they are hosta.. they will not die

they just might not be as pretty as you would prefer ...


do you think he played in the shade ... nooooo

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 9:42AM
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I felled a big spruce this winter. My Blue Angel turned into Light Gray Angel.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 11:49AM
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You all are brilliant !! I simply cannot thank you enough for your words of encouragement.

It's kind of a mixed bag in the backyard today. Along the fence line that gets the most sun, some of our Hostas are just fine, others have white burn marks on them and others are turning yellow and curling. Boy, that didn't take long, did it? It's HOT today...mid 90's, full on sun. Same for tomorrow.

I guess I have to take the mindset that "It is what it is". I am outside watering them 3 times a day. It's taking me about 40 minutes each time because I'm trying to really soak their roots. I'm misting their leaves with cool water and hoping for the best. I'm honestly encouraged to know that even if they look like crispy critters this year, it's not the end of the road for them. That they CAN and will be even better next year !!!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 4:48PM
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ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida

Floating row covers. Actually I am lazy so I would get some screen material and those green steaks and ty rap a shade cover over them till I can think of the long solution. I am sorry for the loss of your tree. I to have one that has to come down. It sometimes is my best friend.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 8:00AM
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jan_on zone 5b

Ken - great shade structure. Super sand box. And we've seen pics of your red head. But I don't remember ever hearing a story about the pig???? Is he litter trained?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 2:11PM
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