Teaching the Basics of Hosta: What should I know?

newhostalady Z6 ON, CanadaDecember 3, 2012

I am missing my hostas and anticipating what next year will bring. I am not ready to pack it in for the winter! So I say to you: if you were teaching a class called "the Basics of Hosta 101," what do you think should definitely be included?

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jan_on zone 5b

A link to this website, and to the hosta library!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 1:14PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

The American Hosta Society has a wonderful little booklet called The Hosta Adventure. It explains the basics of how they grow and what to expect and how to ID problems. Great photos and illustrations. Then, after that they will understand all the info available at the Hosta Library and other sites.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 1:33PM
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bernd ny zone5

find the American Hosta Society's publication in the attached link. To order the Hosta Adventure brochure follow the instruction at the bottom of the page, for non-members it costs $8 including shipment.
But in case you join the AHS for $30/year, you will get the Hosta Adventure for free plus a $15 coupon for buying hostas.

Here is a link that might be useful: AHS Hosta Adventure ordering.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 5:59PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

they are so easy .. that they will live on the driveway

except the $100 ones.. which will die on the way home


    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 6:19PM
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newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

Jan, I agree that this forum is a great learning tool with the bonus of making some good friends. The hosta library is awesome.

Babka, great suggestion.

Thanks for the info Bernd.

Now I will not be able to say, "but I had no idea . . ." cause Ken you told me so.

I hope you didn't mind me asking this question (and I think I can come up with others) while the forum is slow. I feel that it is important to have a good foundation of knowledge in whatever it is that you want to learn. That is why I posed that question. I wanted to know what others felt was important when trying to be successful in growing beautiful hostas.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 10:35AM
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I say,plant them and do not move them around a lot,so you will realize what a mature hosta can look like. Too may people keep moving their hostas,and wonder why they never seem to get any bigger. They are easy to grow,and come back every year better than last year. I don't do anything to mine except plant them. Phil

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 12:33PM
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bernd ny zone5

Like with anything, there is a learning curve, we all made some mistakes. But nowadays with the internet there is so much information available. I found the Hosta Library very helpful, then there are local hosta societies and the AHS. All that info costs less than a potted hosta, and there is so much time for reading in winter.

I.e. I just noticed that I actually need more light for the hostas and ordered a high-limb manual chain saw for cutting higher limbs off by myself with a chain thrown up to that limb. That will give them more morning sun, but maintains shade in the afternoon.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 5:23PM
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newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

Phil, I guess some hosta are set back by being moved, and we don't really know which hosta will suffer the most from it. Good point. Just curious---do you like the hosta best when it is at maturity?

Bernd, you are right about the internet. There is so much information available that it makes it easier to learn and be informed.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:22PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Leaves up. Roots down. Add Water. Yeah, there's a lot of other stuff, but it's superfluous. That's pretty much all you need to know.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 10:15AM
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jan_on zone 5b

And - they will survive nasty winters living in pots if you wish. That was a revelation for me.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 11:36AM
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Light, HEY, they are plants, give 'em SOME kinda light

Water: in their native lands of Asia, esp. S.E. Asia, they get 5-6 more average annual water than most of us in the U.S. get. Water; just do it (unless you're clay-bound, then ask someone else . . .)

Soil: doesn't every plant want good soil?

Attention: actually, this is one plant that doesn't want or need attention, generally. (whoa, hold on there, y'all)

Hold on, because there are always, ummm, almost always, exceptions, but as I've so often seen KEN, et. al. remark, heck, leave 'em out on the driveway, they'll probably live next year if planted. ( one thread here lead to the further understanding that it was actually another hostaholic, ummm, errr, his MOM, who lead to the now infamous hosta reputation of being 'driveway' tuff. Who wants to be so bold as to guess who I'm refering to.

Anyway, if we can grow this plant in KKD Kalkaska blow sand in zone 4, you should not worry . . .


    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 1:06AM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Asia yes, but not S.E. Asia. It is too warm there.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 2:33AM
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ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida

Keep it simple. Paula

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 8:13AM
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newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

I like your suggestions and thoughts.

What about:

(1) Green and blue hostas can grow well in shade or partial shade.
(2) Hostas that are yellow or have some yellow need more sunlight than the blue or green hostas.
(3) Hostas can have very different rates of growth.
(4) Hostas with lots of white are more difficult to grow.
(5) In order to produce variegated seed/seedings, you will need to cross pollinate with a streaked hosta.
(6) Hostas will grow quicker and more dense if grown in sun.
(7) Hostas grown in the shade can have a "looser" look to them (less compact).
(8) The color of a hosta can differ (and sometimes quite dramatically) if a hosta is grown in a lot of sunlight as compared to less sunlight or in shade.
(9) Blue hostas have a coating on them that makes them blue. Sunlight and watering can remove this coating and in turn make the hosta look green rather than blue.

Are these correct? Can you add to the list?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 11:32AM
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I'd probably talk about possible problems:
slugs, voles, rabbits, deer and diseases.
I'd also talk about what nice landscaping plants they are, bold leaves that set off finer textured plants like ferns and grasses.
They are alot of bang for the buck, one ten dollar hosta can grow to be 6 ft across, covering nearly 30 square feet. What a bargin (if you can keep yourself away from the new introductions).
I would include, of course, lots of pictures and mention my favorite varieties and why I like them.

Thats what I have off the top of my head.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 12:27PM
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make sure you have a bench to take the time to view your beauties and take the time to enjoy and smell the flowers.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 12:38PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

They need plenty of water. If they don't get enough water, they'll be smaller next year. So if you don't get plenty of rain in your area, you'll need to keep soaker hoses or some type of irrigation system in your beds.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 1:24PM
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newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

Insect, pests and diseases should definitely be addressed Beverly. I especially liked it when you said "They are a lot of bang for the buck." That put a smile on my face and it is very true.

Almosthooked, a bench, chair or lounger should seriously be considered! It would be a great place to relax and look at all the beauty.

I understand that hostas can be very forgiving when it comes to water. But if one wants to have beautiful hostas, I agree that watering is key.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 11:50PM
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bernd ny zone5

Water - I spent $400 on watering the yard last year. The town's water company sent we a letter asking if I have leaks.... they want to raise rates.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 9:05AM
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newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

Bernd, that's a dose of reality. All for the love of hostas and gardening. I hope your water rates do not go up!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 5:45PM
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Babka NorCal 9b


That sounded low to me compared to what we pay here where it never rains from April to November. I took a look at my bills for the last 12 months. Our 75x125 suburban lot in Sunny California uses $1,170 worth of water in 12 months. That doesn't include the $30/month sewer fees. THAT is one good reason we have such small yards. And I only water my pots by hand twice a week in the middle of Summer.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 6:11PM
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bernd ny zone5

For my whole Jan-On wrote : "they will survive nasty winters living in pots if you wish." Not true in zone 5 and other freezing zones when you leave the pot outside and upright, because the crown would rot in spring after it thaws out. We tip pots on their side outside.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 8:56AM
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