The Best Way to Fertilize Hostas


Adaptable and easy-to-grow, hostas are popular perennials for good reason. Though hostas generally take care of themselves, the plants may benefit from fertilization if grown in poor soil. The best approach to fertilizing hostas involves proper timing and takes into account the particular soil conditions where the plants are growing. Unless a soil test indicates otherwise, hostas generally only require nitrogen fertilizer, according the University of Minnesota Extension.

Step 1

Get a soil test to determine what nutrients are lacking in the soil where the hostas grow. If the soil test indicates the soil has sufficient amounts of the necessary nutrients, then all the hostas will need is an application of compost each fall. If nitrogen or other nutrients are lacking, however, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2

In early spring, when hosta leaves are emerging from the ground, mix the required fertilizer according to package directions. Apply fertilizer solution on soil surrounding each plant, but make sure you do not get fertilizer on the plant itself.

Step 3

Water the plants two to three times within the week following fertilizer application, to ensure the nutrients go down into the soil where the roots can access them.

Step 4

Repeat the fertilizer application and subsequent watering six weeks later, or just before flowers emerge.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not fertilize hostas late in the growing season because the plants need a hardening off period before cold weather sets in, Ohio State University Extension advises.

Things You'll Need

  • Nitrogen fertilizer
  • Other fertilizer, if needed, per soil test results
  • Mixing container


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Hostas
  • University of Vermont Extension: The How-to of Hostas
  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing Hostas
Keywords: fertilize hostas, hosta fertilizing guidelines, hosta care

About this Author

Ann Wolters, who has been a freelance writer, consultant, and writing coach for the past year and a half, has had her writing published in "The Saint Paul Almanac," and in magazines such as "Inventing Tomorrow" and "Frontiers." She earned a master’s degree in English as a second language from the University of Minnesota and taught English as a foreign language for nearly seven years.