Hostas in Containers in Zone 5

treemon(z5 IL)July 11, 2010

Here in the flatlands, near Chicago in Zone 5, IÂve been growing some hostas in 7 to 15 gallon containers for several years. It solves the issues of planting under maples; it gives the garden varying heights and showcases some specimens. I am not sure if IÂve just been lucky or if my winter regimens are necessary. In addition, I've heard that container grown hostas may not achieve mature leaf size and other characteristics. I use a loose soilless planting mix with additional perlite added. In winter I partially dig in the planters and tilt them at a 45 to 60 degree angle. I mulch heavily with leaves and wood chips. I try to keep winter sun from shining on the planters. Good snow cover seems to help too, but lasting snow is not reliable in Chicago. I tried placing containers in my attached unheated garage at first, but it gets too warm there and the hostas begin growing too early.

Freezing and thawing with too much moisture in the pots seems to be the big concern. One year I forgot to tip and mulch a 15 inch planter of Warwick Curtsey and by the time I checked on it in spring the plant had turned to mush. I salvaged only two eyes out of what had been at least 15. The plant had been a raffle prize and it was likely its first year in the container.

It would be good to hear what others with more experience with containers in cold zones have learned.

Below is Satisfaction filling a 15 gallon planter after four years.


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Wendys_garden(5b Great Lakes)

You're doing something right-- that Satisfaction is beautiful!

I'm in Milwaukee, and I have some Hostas in large plastic pots. I water them one last time around November and put them in my un-heated (not attached) garage. Your garage probably gets warmer because it is attached. I ignore them till early April when I bring them back out. Usually they don't show any growth till I bring them out. I've never had any problems.
Do you have a shed you could put them in?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 9:51PM
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hostared(Z5, IL)

With a small suburban garden and over 150+ varieties in our collection I also had to be creative. Since my husband likes the larger varieties and I still enjoy my perennial gardens we have had to elevate and place the 75 containers in interesting spots. Most are elevated and like you Mark we place them in large 15 to 20 gallon containers. Like Wendy we do keep them in a garage in winter. We bring them in just before Christmas and place them side by side. Never stack. Depending on weather they need to thaw slowly because spring rains can create rot if not thawed.

I find that the large varieties grow larger. We've been doing this for 10 years with little loss. I have tried tipping some last year and it seems to work. I may do more of that this year because it is a chore to bring those babies in for the winter! Some that I have loss seems to be ones that I planted late in the season. Not sure why that is. But all in all I believe we've only lost 6 in the past 10 years...and they were replaced. If what your doing works keep doing it.

The plus is when you have an empty spot in the garden you can just place a nice container in and enjoy it's beauty.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 8:46AM
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westy1941(Boulder County, CO)

I've seen hostared's garden and it's gorgeous with many levels!!! She also turns some containers upside down to place another on top so she has more than two levels - sometimes three - which is beautiful in the inside corners of her house. You never see the containers because the hosta are spilling out. It looks amazing.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 10:59AM
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greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)

I grow a few hostas in pots, I am finding it is good thing to do in areas where the chipmunks hide. My dogs are chipmunk assassins and sometimes a hosta falls victim to the rampage, but they are safer from trampling in pots.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 10:36AM
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