Its really hot and dry: Should we be potting our new buys?

hostaLes(5)July 16, 2012

A lot of you know I have been limited in how I have been able to tend my flock because of knee surgery. Never-the-less it did not prevent me from shopping, even from a wheel chair or using a shopping cart as a walker.

I have added almost a dozen new to me hostas this year. When I was able to return home and on my own I was faced with not only a major drought condition but weed overgrown hosta gardens. I now have them cleared and my watering under control, but had not fertilized.

I am thinking that I can best control sun, water and nutrition issues for my young, undeveloped hostas best in a cluster of containers in a known shade area - for the rest of this strange year. So I have just finished repotting all of this years aquisitions in larger containers with fresh potting mix. To this extent I have become a container hosta gardener for at least this year.

Considering this years unusual drought conditions, is anyone else taking my approach - even if it is temporary for this year? I really admire bkay, babka, moccasinlanding and others who HAVE to garden hostas in containers. They have beautiful hostas. But am I over-reacting?

Let me know how you feel, and pass along any pros and cons you feel exist.


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bernd ny zone5

I did the same as you. It is so hot and the sun so strong, so I potted recent new buys, left my seedlings potted and will not move plants around for several more weeks until the days get cooler. All pots are in shade.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 2:43PM
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I have a quite a few new buys from the MW Regionals. Should i repot them if I plan on waiting a few weeks to plant? I thought shade an plenty of water might do. Not quite drought conditions here but very hot and steamy.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 2:54PM
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Ludi _PA_7a


I too have potted up all my new Hosta this year (10 total). As the story goes, I am in the process of preparing a new perennial bed and personally don't feel the soil is ready this year for planting. All of them were potted in the last two weeks in the scorching sun. I have had no problems thus far. I will be fertilizing them in a week, to give them a chance to adjust to the new pots and growing conditions. They are in way more shade now than they were at the nursery.

My reasons for potting up the new guys is not necessarily the same as yours since I just simply don't have a proper place to put them in the ground yet. I think this may become an ongoing issue of my collection growing quicker than cleared space in my yard.

In either scenario I would agree that it seems easier to maintain the micro climate when the Hosta are in pots. The biggest benefit (esp in a drought type of year) is the conservation of water when they are in the pots versus ground.

In my example, I have three huge clumps of Elegans that are in the ground. I find when watering it's hard to contain the water solely around the plant and watch a lot of it run off down the hill to the weeds and voracious ivy below.

When more of the garden is actually established this won't be such a problem since the run off will just go towards the roots of other plants.

I may still be using the same amount of water with pots versus ground. But at least with the pots I am able to maximize what I am watering with that amount.

Maybe I am over thinking it and it is all the same but I feel like I can baby them better in pots than ground. When they are first years I think it is safer to pot them up to see what they are going to do. Plus when purchasing from garden centers or local nurseries where you can't be sure if they are testing for HVX it is easier to quarantine when in pots.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 3:13PM
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Just walked out for a survey. The ones that seem unfazed by the heat (yes, it's been hot even here in central WI) are:

Krossa Regal
Bix Blues
Second Wind
Fragrant Bouqet
Earth Angel
Lancifolia (where the rabbits haven't found it yet!)
El Nino
Royal Standard
2nd year TC plantaginea planted where it gets lots of sun almost all day
Stained Glass
Cathedral Windows
Holy Mole

and, albomarginata, of course.

Really, only Summer Fragrance (other than a NOID variegated undulata) has any crispies & only where it takes a lot of midday-afternoon sun and doesn't get watered quite enough.

Of the lot, the young Earth Angels (1 gal. purchases last summer) have grown the best. I'm still trying to figure out how I ended up buying EA three times last year. I thought only twice but found a third one. Musta' been on clearance or I divided one of them when I planted it. EA is a nice hosta; I like it a lot, but do I really need three of them when I'm fretting about where to site all the monster hostas that are on the Wish List!?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 4:27PM
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Previous reply obviously posted to wrong thread!

And, yes, I've been potting all my new babes. Keep them close to the foundation in the back yard underneath the shade of other hostas & shaded by pine tree. I can ease them from deep shade to increasing light then sun exposure all along the foundation wall. And they're right there where they get checked on multiple x's per day.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 4:32PM
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I've picked up several new plants this month, mostly on sale, and repotted a few but I'm keeping them in a shady spot on the deck or in the greenhouse, along with all the seedlings, where I can control the water and move them out of the sun if I need to. The ground is just too dry and the sun too hot. Not planting anything until at least September.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 6:07PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Les, this thread responds to my situation. I wanted to move my Bressingham Blue because it's gotten too big for its location but I don't have the garden bed extension ready to move it to and it's gotten way too hot to move things. I found a second Regal Splendor to place in BB's spot. I bought it because of its mature size. I've kept it in its original nursery pot. Once the temperatures become more tolerable my plan is to dig a big hole, amend the soil and plant BB there. I will place newspaper, compost and soil on top of the grass in the garden bed extension so that I can add other hostas from my wish list in the garden be extension in the spring. It never occurred to me that it might be a good idea to remove RS from its nursery pot to another pot. What is the advantage to doing that??

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 7:10PM
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I shoulda' said that I'm potting all of the new bare root hostas.

I'm not Les, Irawon, but any hosta that are in nursery pots and look like they've been growing in the pot for a while, I would go ahead and plant out in the garden. Depending on the location, you might want to provide additional shade and increased humidity around them.

But I have no idea what zone you're in. Might have 'nother opinion if you're in Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri..., i.e., some place where it gets really, unrelentingly hot for weeks & weeks at a time... which case, I'd ask 'What in the blazes are you tryin' to raise hosta for? Plant okra!!' :-)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 7:50PM
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MadPlanter1 zone 5

I put several out earlier this year, and trying to keep them well watered is a pain in the neck. The ones still sitting in pots are right by the faucet in a nice shady area and seem to be doing fine. Plus it takes two minutes to water them vs. dragging hoses all over the yard and thoroughly soaking each plant. Save yourself some trouble and wait for cooler weather.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 8:48PM
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paula_b_gardener 5b_ON(5b)

I plant my new ones in larger nursery pots and plants them in the ground. Tree roots don't bother them, watering is easier and they can be moved while I experiment with which location suits them best. I have had Jade Cascade and Krossa Regal in large nursery pots for about 5 years and I leave them in the ground over winter, too. I just have to make sure they don't get too wet come spring.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 11:42PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Ci lantro, I'm in Ottawa, Canada, zone 5b. It's too hot right now for both me and the hostas. I guess I'm going to wait until the temps drop a bit before I move the hostas around.

Is there any way I can make the optional zone entry permanent?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 3:40AM
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Re irawon asking what is the advantage of moving a hosta from a nursery pot to another pot:
All of the plants I've bought were really nice healthy multi-eyed plants. The roots are the key to success when you grow hostas, in my opinion. I stopped buying hostas from big box stores years ago when I realized that those nice looking hostas they sold were forced to show foliage and flower so they would sell with no regard for root development. I'd bring them home and would find there were hardly enough roots to support the plant when I put them in the ground. I had even had to stake some so they wouldn't fall over.
The plants I've bought this year were all on the verge of being root bound in the nursery pots. In that situation, with this weather I would water every day and the next day the pot would be bone dry. So repotting into a larger pot provides more space for root development, more consistant moisture, and cooler roots, which in my opinion means healthier hostas. When I have repotted I have added Root-Blast to the mix.

Last fall I had bought a bunch of hostas. Rather than pot them I was in a hurry and shoved them into the ground. This year they look not much better than this years purchases. I am sure next year will show a different story, but I am using much more water on those young planted hostas than my potted ones. I just feel by potting the young hostas fair better when they don't have to be subjected to competition or predation by voles, bunnies, slugs, etc. The most common pest I find damaging my potted hosta are pill bugs. I found a colony in the bottom of every hosta still in the nursery pots, and holes in the leaf. They are not hard to control.

Obviously I feel more comfortible doing this, this year. The other factor is I still am struggling with rehabbing from knee surgery and can tend my flock better when I have them close together in a convenient location.

One final comment: within 2 days of repotting every one of the hostas have repotted into larger pots than their nursery pots have perked up from how they looked B4 being repotted.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 4:18AM
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bernd ny zone5

Les, I am feeling with you! I overworked in the garden and during house renovation this spring, and now also wear a knee brace to give some support. I noticed, do not overdue anything, like me hiking for 4 hours in the local mountains, it got worse. Good luck! Bernd

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 6:58AM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Les, it takes time to recover from knee surgery. If it was a knee replacement I've heard it takes about a year to recover from that. I hope you take Bernd's advice and don't overdo it. Hubby had a knee operation for a torn meniscus last August and returned to golf too early although daughter had recommended cycling.

I appreciate the information regarding the advantages for uppotting. I will do that as the hostas I bought were mature divisions. I used to remove some foliage from other perennials (not hostas) when moving them from nursery pots into the ground in order to allow the root system to become established but stopped doing this with hostas when I realized that the leaves provided food for root growth. So, now you have me rethinking my replanting practices depending on the root development of the purchased hosta. If the roots are not well developped, I will remove some hosta leaves to balance root and upper growth before I uppot. I've also learned to buy hostas from nurseries specializing in them sometime in August instead of in the spring because at that time of the year roots are better developed and any symptoms of disease will likely have appeared.

Happy hosta gardening to everyone.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 12:05PM
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