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Hostas in Pots

Posted by paul_in_mn 4a (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 30, 11 at 18:41

Some observations/ramblings from a neophyte growing hostas in containers. I was going to say a pot growing neophyte but realized that came out wrong - lol.

Last year was my first growing hosta in pots. I hadn't planned to grow quite as many as I did - but after setting up a couple of groupings on my deck - I really liked the look and feel. Deck gets more sun, waterings and attention from me - so good conditions. All to start were new additions and grew well - Ginsu Knife and Captain Kirk just kept adding leaves all summer and I was sad to see fall come.

Some of my potted plants.
Deck Plantings 2010

Pulled the pots into my unheated 3 season porch over winter hoping the pots wouldn't dry out too much. Added some snow to some of the pots in late February. Early 2011 results show eyes are bulging and all seem to have done very well. A couple of hosta that went into pots were bought from a local collector last spring -- Formal Attire went from 5 to 8 pips and Alabama Gold went from 6 to 15 pips -- wow! So feeling pretty good overall. My plans are to grow a few of these one more summer in pots and then move to garden in mid/late August - and continue this two year cycle with a few changing every year.

Early growth from Aspen Gold (ice/snow was just added for a little extra moisture).
Eyes in Pots

I'm interested to see how roots will look after two years in pots. Two years of same potting soil should be Ok from what I've been reading. Late summer I also moved a couple of hosta from the garden into pots - they had languished last year - Popo and Pandora's Box - still early to see results. Pandora always comes up late for me in the garden and grew well for a few years - but I think too shaded where I had it. I could see this one staying permanently in a pot - maybe with a couple of other minis.

Used a mix of equal parts small bark and sphagnum peat moss - adding in some perlite, small aggregate(clay based spill absorber that you might use on garage floor), and plant-tone fertilizer. Used this for my Elephant Ears in pots as well. When I pulled the EE bulbs after first freeze they far surpassed past years. So adding in all the seedlings last year and my deck has became a jungle of plants.

Yesterday, I found this posting (link below) about soils and water movement in containers - long post but very informative. Includes a formula for potting soil - uses more bark fines and less peat. Worth a read. May have to try some tweaks to my soil this year.

Regarding pots - found some excellent deals last year at Mills Fleet Farm (mid-west locations I think) - virtually all of the glazed pots in pic were $7 to $2 on sale. I bought some extras of biggest size for this year's planned additions.

Please share your experiences and pics growing hosta in containers.

Paul

Here is a link that might be useful: Container soils and water in containers


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Hostas in Pots

Put a few First Frost in pots. When the other hosta on your deck go dormant in fall, move the First Frost front and center for an extended hosta show.


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RE: Hostas in Pots

Hey, nice display. Thanks for sharing!

Say, from what I have learned here, and I guess you seen the thousands of them in containers. The little ones may be o.k. in ceramic w/ adequate area to grow. It is medium to large and over that I struggle with. One year overwintered in a container seems to be o.k. Two years and they seem to go backwards, die or stay the same number of eyes. I often see a huge decline in the roots. Sometimes up to 75% of the roots are rotted, shriveled or dried up too nothing. I have also lost some of the biggest eyes this way. I will get new eyes that have been dormant buds. However, the big ones make a plant.

Good Luck, Rick


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RE: Hostas in Pots

I moved many of mine into pots last summer after suffering bad vole damage/losses. Nothing is awake yet, but I feel that they will survive- I used a very coarse mix that I made and buried them all in the ground in their pots. I buried them in plastic nursery pots- for summer display, those were slipped into more decorative containers.

I have a small garden with probably too many hosta crammed in as it is, so I've decided I'm ok with the fact that may not be as glorious as they would be if planted directly in the ground. At least they won't get eaten, hopefully. The larger ones that were too established to dig up, I dug moats around and filled with gravel to discourage voles.

What I need to know now is what should I fertilize with? I don't bother fertilizing the ones in the ground, but I assume the ones in pots will need something? I need to know how much, when to use, etc.


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RE: Hostas in Pots

I'm not a big pot guy, neither in gardening or smoking, but those are some nice hostas, the gnome.....for me watching it take a header off the balcony would be a hoot. Thats just me others may like em. I do have a ton of pots plastic, ceramic, tericota, clay, mccoy, hull even a roseville (just planter type not collectable really) and what have you, all sitting on shelves empty. I have tons, well cubic yards of potting soil and compost, but like i say not much for pots. for some reason i never had much luck with potted, but do well with planted, so it goes. I do like yours mine just never liked me.


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RE: Hostas in Pots

Rick, I think the difference is moisture. Do you overwinter your potted hosta in your barn, or outside?


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RE: Hostas in Pots

Pulled the pots into my unheated 3 season porch over winter hoping the pots wouldn't dry out too much.

===>>> dormant hosta do NOT need water ... short of total absence of some moisture ... there would be more damage trying to fix the situation ...

adding in some perlite, small aggregate(clay based spill absorber that you might use on garage floor),

===>>> probably much cheaper sold as generic clay based cat liter ...

otherwise.. GREAT WORK ....

ken


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RE: Hostas in Pots

Very nice display,Paul! My main deck is in full afternoon sun,so hostas would not be an option. Also,we have a critter down here called squirrels which love to dig in my pots! You must not have squirrels up there? I've had them dig down so deep in my half whiskey barrels that they expose the roots! I will still keep my half whiskey barrels,but I'm not big on pots. Then your hostas become a collection,rather than a garden. I would like to pot up some of my seedlings,and grow them up to bigger plants,but then the squirrel problem comes into play. You understand where I'm coming from? Nonetheless,I still like your potted hostas. Phil


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RE: Hostas in Pots

ok does this sound like a mean idea. I have mulled over the idea of taking an electrified dog fence and putting it at squirrel level. Even more evil is taking the same design, but using very thin wire so they can't see it. only problem with that is it may well fry them as opposed to shock them if they don't end up breaking the wire. PETA would probably picket me if they even get wind of this post.


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RE: Hostas in Pots

  • Posted by babka 9 Northern Californi (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 31, 11 at 13:43

I love hostas in pots!!!
Photobucket

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RE: Hostas in Pots

Gorgeous! How long have those been in those pots, Babka, and what do you do as far as feeding? Do you reot regularly or just leave them in the same soil and pot?


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RE: Hostas in Pots

I never said I didn't like hostas in pots. Babka,you have a nice collection,but you don't garden outside,where all kinds of things,from freezes,to deer,(I don't have any deer in my neighborhood),to voles,and digging critters like Chipmunks,and Squirrels. Count yourself lucky! Phil


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RE: Hostas in Pots

Thanks all for the comments.

SWMO, I do like those First Frost/El Nino/Sleeping Beauty colors.

CG, hope someone with experience growing in containers long term will weigh in on your roots issue.

Coll_123, I mixed the Plant-tone into the soil mix when I potted them up - it was too late in summer for the time release fertilizer. I hit them with one more application of Plant-tone in July. Here is the info from their site "Potted Plants - Mix 1 part Plant-tone to 25 parts soil. Feed established plants 1 tsp. of Plant-tone for each 3 inches of pot diameter. Repeat monthly."

Phil, lots of oaks...so squirrels are plentiful. Used to have a lot of digging in pots and in the ground, especially around new plantings. The squirrels were feasting at the bird feeder continuously, so I stopped filling the feeders and most of the digging stopped and the squirrels went away.

Melissa - start you Elephant Ear now if you haven't already. Send me a note if you have questions.

Ken - Top inch or two was dry on a couple of the pots, so tossed some snow on top - figured there wasn't too much moisture in snow as compared to adding water.

GGG, I'm picturing a squirrel gnome is what you need.

Paul


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RE: Hostas in Pots

  • Posted by babka 9 Northern Californi (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 31, 11 at 14:58

Phil, I have tree squirrels coming out my ***. In Winter I cover my pots with wire mesh. My Whiskey barrels have hardware cloth in them year round. They dig holes everywhere in my tiny little yard. Some jerk around here feeds them peanuts which I even find in my hanging pots. They even make off with my camellia blooms! And this year, they crawled out on the skinny branches of my weeping crabapple to eat the buds. They race across my roof. Anytime I plant a couple flats of something, I can count on 4 or 5 being dug up by squirrels the next morning. I HATE squirrels.

-Babka


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RE: Hostas in Pots

yes the demon garden gnomesquirrel with slugs for eyes, golpher as left front foot, mole as right front foot, vole as left rear and mouse as right rear foot with a tail of rollie pollies, mole crickets and leaf hoppers all in a row. Maybe even with a cat riding on it's back (sorry cat lovers, but they poop in my garden)Most all garden gnomes are great for target practice , but something like that i might actually put as the figurehead of my gardens.


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RE: Hostas in Pots

Babka - always enjoy seeing pictures of your hosta room. How many hostas do you have in pots?

GGG - so you're saying a totem would work

Paul

Here is a link that might be useful: Totem


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RE: Hostas in Pots

  • Posted by babka 9 Northern Californi (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 1, 11 at 0:30

Paul- I have over 75 in pots...with more coming in the next few weeks. They all spend the Winter in the atrium with a tarp over the top of the atrium to keep our rains out. As they unfurl there isn't enough room in there, so about 20 of them go on the deck outside my familyroom/kitchen.

-Babka


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I would like a totem like something i described, would that be concidered folk art or just freaky.


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Geez,what everyone needs! A totem picturing a squirrel! I once had a squirrel plant a walnut in my Little Miss Magic pot,and it sprouted into a little tree. (Squirrels don't remember where they put their nuts for storage). I even have Tulips coming up where I never planted a Tulip! One is in my nursery planting bed,and it is getting ready to bloom,as I write this. You can't get rid of them. Phil


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We have squirrels, but I never notice them digging in the pots or anything (I don't have bulbs at all in the garden). I do see chipmunks in the pots, which was worse when I was using Sluggo...they really liked to eat that stuff. The worst thing the sqirrels do is gnaw on pine cones high up in the trees and then toss them down while you're out there. They make a real mess.


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GGG,

That would be considered pagan, but cool. I wonder how effective it would be. Start carving.

Steve


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I would think hostas in pots would be different in different areas. Here, they grow beautifully in pots. They are like most hostas - they sleep, they creep, and they leap (at least some of them). Here, they are very carefree. If you do almost nothing, they will be nice potted plants.

I have 3 or 4 hosta I've had for years. They didn't work where I had them in the ground, so I just potted them up and removed the whole bed. Other than watering, I pretty much ignored them for 3 or 4 years. All of a sudden one day, I noticed I had some really nice plants.

They have to be watered almost daily in the hot part of the summer. If you put the pots on some kind of "stilts", it keeps most all the slugs out. By stilts, I mean pot feet or plant trolly or anything that breaks the contact of the pot and ground. We really don't have many problems with other pests other than squirrels. Squirrels are continually digging in my pots. My elderly neighbor loves them and feeds them corn and sunflower seeds. They plant their acorns, corn, peanuts and sunflower seeds in my pots. (I'm looking out the back window and see corn stalks sticking out of my pot of So Sweet.) Then, later, they go back and look for what ever they buried. I always have exposed roots in my hosta pots. I don't think there is much I can do about them.

I think they need water in the winter. My hosta get natural rainfall in the winter, which I know doesn't work for you guys who live where you have lots of sub-freezing weather. I planted some hosta in a protected planter box last year and neglected to water them over the winter. I lost 2 out of 5. I did not get them from a specialty hosta grower, so that might have something to do with it. I will water them next winter, however.

So for us in Zone 8, hosta in pots are wonderful plants for the deck or the patio. They're carefree, look good and come back every year. I've not found they decline after year 2. They just keep getting better and better.

bkay


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RE: Hostas in Pots

  • Posted by babka 9 Northern Californi (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 1, 11 at 22:58

I didn't cover mine during our Winter rains for the first few years, but after about 3-4 years I began to suffer a lot of Spring rot if they were allowed to get wet during the Winter. One wet Winter I lost 40 out of 90 plants and was about to give up growing them. The ones that survived were the most root-bound, thus holding the least amount of water.

Bkay is in a totally different situation. Obviously what she is doing works for her plants. In the heat of the summer, we still have cool nights here, and I have never had to water a hosta more often than every third day. So you do whatever works for YOU.

-Babka


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I'm not sure I would even have any hostas if I didn't have them in containers. I do have some losses in containers. I lost four over the winter, but the other almost 400 came back even bigger. I fight squirrels, snails, and slugs. I experimented with soil mixtures and have ended up using pine mulch. I use a variation of Butch's watering system, and I am more and more convinced that it is the way to go for our climate. One the other hand, he recommended covering with leaf mulch, and that does not work here. It sets up spring rot of the crowns. Like Bkay, I keep mine moist in the winter. I use plastic containers because they conserve water better. They aren't all that attractive and are downright ugly in the winter. When spring comes I don't even notice all those pots, I'm too busy enjoying the pretty hostas that actually grow in the shade.


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I lost several over the winter, too - all 1st year plants. I am blaming the nursery I bought them from. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it in spite of any conflicting information. ;-)

bkay


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Paul and Babka, AMAZING photos!


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Hosta newbie pots up.....

After seeing all the wonderful pictures, I decided to try some for this year. I got the "slightly damaged" pots for $2.50 - $5.00 each and the hosts for $5.55, so I don't have a huge investment in this if I fail.

In the front, Blue Mouse Ears and White Feather
In the back, Great Expectations and Color Glory

Photobucket


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I just love seeing all the potted hosta!! They make such gorgeous container plants! I potted a few up last year that I had divided from some huge clumps. Put them on our enclosed hot tub deck over the winter where we keep the temperature at an pretty even 65 degrees year round. I watered them maybe once a month, maybe less. (it was one of those things that I did when I remembered to do it and not on a set schedule) They all started coming back up in Feb. I moved them outside a few weeks ago and they are getting big. I am so excited about them! I want to do some more this year, too. Hosta aren't out yet at our nurseries though.

As for the squirrels, my back yard has several walnut and pecan trees and since they have an abundant food supply from the nuts they don't bother my gardens too much. My little mini dacshund Felipe and his counterpart Merlin the cat chase them off when they see them, so that helps, too!


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RE: Hostas in Pots

This past year was the first time I decided to grow a hosta in a pot and to over-winter it in its pot. I bought Praying Hands as a four-eyed leafed out plant and a twelve inch fiberglass pot which I wanted it to be its permanent home. I grew Golden Creeping Jenny in the pot with it. Over the winter I kept the pot under the eaves of our house on the front patio, which faces west. It stayed in the shade of the eaves for most of the day except early morning when the sun rose, and when it snowed only a little bit actually covered the pot. Say, when we got about eight inches, only about an inch or so actually landed on top of the pot. I did not tip it over. In the fall, when the hosta began to go dormant, I tucked it under the eaves and stopped watering because I learned here that the pots should dry before winter sets. Also, rain doesn't hit the pot under the eaves either.

So, now that the temps have warmed, I've let the pot have a drink in the last rain storm we had to moisten the pot. The Creeping Jenny was the first to break dormancy. I was actually surprised it made it through the winter. And now Praying hands is beginning to poke through. I counted last night twelve eyes popping up through the soil. The plant has tripled in size! So now I think since I have had good luck with this experiment, I am going to put other hostas in pots and make the pots their permanent homes (until they grow out of them). I have some hostas that seem to be struggling, so those will go in pots, and most of my minis will be moved into pots. I think they'll do better in pots than in the ground, or at least until they get to bigger size. I found a cute fiberglass log planter at Lowe's that I think some of my minis (my mouse ears family) would look adorable in. I may have to go pick one up.

Karen


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RE: Hostas in Pots

  • Posted by hey_j 6 Dayton Oh. (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 14, 11 at 10:21

I love my barreled hosta, and I have done a few on the deck in the barrels and in pots. Unfortunately with our deck being made from treated planks I have seriously caused some dry rot from watering. Even placing them on saucers tends to hold in the moisture underneath when it rains. :o( If you have a deck like we do, I STRONGLY recommend moving your pots around frequently and in your case Babka--stunningly beautiful but I don't know how you can do that! :o)) Maybe your deck is of better stuff than ours! We'd love to redo it, but it's approx. 16 ft. by 45 ft.!

Love the pix--and the topic!


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