Okay to cut back leaves of declining hostas?

linnea56(z5 IL)October 25, 2011

I usually leave them alone, but want to plant some bulbs around them that will bloom before the hosta get up and running. 3 kinds were all yellow, so those I figured were okay to do, and I did it. But I am not sure about the ones that are still mostly green, three or four, which I think are Abby. I hope to plant bulbs tomorrow, so hopefully some one can tell me. Thanks!

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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

I don't take off leaves unless there is no green left in them. If they are still green then they are providing food for the plant and it's still growing. If you are wanting to plant in the Hosta root zone, as it sounds, just move the leaves aside and use a bulb planter to make a hole.

If you decide to cut leaves remember to wash your tools in a 10% bleach solution before moving from plant to plant. This will prevent spread of Virus X or other diseases.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 7:30AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

just take some masking tape.. and tape up the green ones.. so you can work near them.. then when the turn to mush.. you can just grab the whole and toss it ... make them look like a bunch of celery ... though you can probably do it.. they are still storing energy... for next springs flush ...

in theory.. you can spread disease by going plant to plant ... so i usually wait.. until after the first freeze.. when the whole can be grabbed and simply pulled off.. thereby avoiding the hole tool cleaning issue ...

as i recall you only have a few.. so i would not worry too much about the whole disease issue ...


    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 8:59AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I never cut back anything,except maybe Peony leaves. I wait until spring to take off hosta leaves,as they protect the hostas during the winter. I also leave all the tree leaves til spring. Voles are not a big problem here,so they do their thing in winter,and so do I. That's just my opinion,and I'm stickin' to it! Phil

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 10:38AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Good idea about the masking tape! That will work great. Or I can just rubber band them, then cut off the rubber band. They are a small leaved variety. I forgot about the disease spreading issue.

Yes, compared to you enthusiasts, I don't have many: maybe 30. It's enough to make people around here notice I like them, but not enough to make them think I have an obsession. If they count the lilies, then they would register an obsession.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 2:15PM
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Gesila(MI Z5)

LOL, on your comment regarding that you don't have enough to make them think you have an obsession. I guess we're over the top now since my neighbor recently told me that she never met a "hosta hoarder" before.

I have never cut mine back in the fall or cleaned them up in the spring. I guess I never thought about it before, I wonder if my lawn service guys do something with them during their fall or spring clean-up. I'll have to start paying attention.

I will be out there after they all die back shortly looking for slug eggs with my trusty toaster tweezers though.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 5:56PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

I also wait until the green is gone before removing the leaves. I used to leave them lie until spring, but with the advent of the widespread foliar nematodes (who overwinter in dead leaves) I now throw them into my compost where they get more than the requisite 120 degrees (either now or in spring...or both) when the compost heats up.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 7:05PM
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