Hostas are hardy perennial garden plants grown for their attractive foliage, ease of care and tolerance to shade. When provided with proper care and growing conditions, hostas survive for decades with only minimal maintenance. The plant's leaves come in many colors, shapes, sizes and textures, depending on variety. From yellow-green to blue-green, hosta leaves add interest to darker areas of the gardens where other plants may fail. Hostas also produce sometimes fragrant flowers in summer through fall in shades of white and purple.
Site and Soil
Hostas thrive when planted in a location that receives morning sun and partial afternoon shade when temperatures peak. Hostas grown in locations with full sunlight throughout the day will require additional watering to prevent scorching. The plants also grow in full shade, although they benefit from some sunlight during the morning. Choose a planting site composed of well-drained, moist, fertile soil. Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic compost over the planting site and use a garden tiller to work it into the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches prior to planting, which increases fertility and drainage. Soil amendment is not necessary in regions with naturally loamy soil.
Provide hostas with at least one inch of water per week to keep the soil from drying out completely. Do not water during weeks that receive at least one inch of rain as this can cause the soil to become too soggy. Apply water during the early morning so excess moisture can evaporate before temperatures drop in the evening. Signs of inadequate watering include leaf burning and drooping.
Spread a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch over the soil surrounding hostas to deter the growth of competitive weeds, insulate the soil and improve moisture retention. Pine straw, cocoa mulch and shredded leaves all make suitable mulches for hostas. Begin the layer of mulch two to three inches from the base of the plants to allow room for air circulation and prevent rotting or fungal diseases caused by lack of air. Do not exceed a depth of four inches, however, as over-mulching can lead to vole infestation, which may kill the hostas.
Hostas require feeding with a granular 10-10-10 NPK or 5-10-5 NPK fertilizer three times per year to ensure proper root and flower development. Apply the fertilizer once during early April, again during late May and a final time during mid-July for best results. Water both before and after applying fertilizer to prevent root injury and to release the nutrients into the soil. Apply the fertilizer at the rate recommended by the manufacturer.