growing hosta under trees

dgregory_so.cntrl.IL_zone6aAugust 19, 2012

There have been so many lovely photos of hosta gardens posted in this forum. I'm curious, how do you all get your hosta to grow under trees? I have planted some under a shag bark hickory and the roots are problematic. Are containers my only option or is there a trick to growing hosta under trees? I need to keep them close to the house because of the deer.

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newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

You can search this hosta forum for "spin out bags." People use these when they have difficulty growing hostas under trees. I myself have maple trees in my backyard. I have several hostas in pots and will be burying them as is in the ground this fall.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 11:08PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


If you plant beneath certain trees like Oaks, Walnuts, Serviceberry, Magnolia or Stewartia you have much less of a problem with root competition. I have mostly Oaks. When planting beneath Maples, I either use spin out bags or above ground pots. Some people use in-ground pots for this. Sometimes a lot of supplemental water to the entire root zone of the tree can help.

If you amend the soil and water only in the area of your Hosta plants, that will send aggressive tree roots right to that area. This will result in strangled Hostas.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 6:52AM
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They grow great under American Black Walnut too with no root competition. The juglone from the walnut doesn't affect them but does eliminate much other competition and weeds.:)


    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 9:20AM
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peggy_hosta(z4 neSD)

Ironically, I just dealt with this issue this weekend. I built a raised bed in 2005 under an ash tree and a hackberry and the hostas grew minimally or died back all together. So I dug up the 26 hostas and planted them in 5 gal black nursery pots or cut-off 5-gal pails and buried them in the same holes. Prior to this replanting, I had watered them Sat morning and it was crumbly dry by Sunday afternoon. Lots of fine roots mixed in with the hosta roots. No wonder they struggled. I did this 3 years ago to another garden that's under an ash and all are doing well.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 10:06AM
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It is very disturbing to dig up a failing hosta and find maple roots that resemble the straw stuff used in hanging plant baskets, a few hosta roots and very little soil. I have never used spinout bags, but from read in this forumm over the recent years it's the way you might need to go if you want your hostas in the ground.

It is equally disturbing digging a hosta up and finding no competing roots but only a few hosta roots that weren't gnawed off the crown by a vole. I think if I had a good "vole-cat" I would name it Elmer Fudd and tell it to go after those "wascally Woles"!Les


    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Thank you everyone for the ideas and input. I tried digging 1/2 way between two hickories 35' apart and couldn't get the shovel through the surface without encountering millions of roots.

I'm looking into large plastic "1/2 barrel" type pots for my potentially larger hosta growing.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 1:25PM
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