Winter Care of Hosta Plants

Overview

Hostas are hardy perennials that require minimal care. Many are native to Asia, such as the fragrant plaintain lily (hosta plantaginea). Numerous hybrids exist in various sizes with blue, green and white, and yellow foliage. Hostas flower in white, lavender or purple, bell-shaped blossoms that rise above the foliage. The best preparation for winter is to keep your hostas healthy throughout the growing season. They will perform well in a partial-shade to full-shade exposure. The soil should be moist but not wet, and have compost or another organic material mixed in. Most hostas are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 9.

Care During Growing Season

Step 1

Assess your hosta's water requirements during the growing season as a precursor to winter. The American Hosta Association recommends 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week during a hosta's active growing season. If the rain isn't sufficient to accomplish this amount, supplement with water.

Step 2

Prune off any flower stems immediately after flowering. According to the American Hosta Society, removal of the flower stems focuses the plant's energy on foliage and root growth.

Step 3

Add a light mulch to hold in moisture.

Step 4

Plant any hostas still in their containers as soon as possible.

Hosta Care in Autumn

Step 1

Cut off any diseased foliage before the cold withers the hosta leaves. Dispose of the leaves in the trash bag. Disinfect your scissors with bleach.

Step 2

Remove all foliage after the cold has withered them. Slugs often hide in the foliage and over winter in the leaves. Dispose in the trash bag.

Step 3

Add a small amount of the planting mix or mulch around the base of the plant if your hosta has started to come out of the ground.

Step 4

Mulch your hosta with straw or shredded leaves after the ground has frozen. If you live in an area where winters have periods of freezing and thawing, mulch with straw to protect against temperature fluctuations.

Tips and Warnings

  • Voles and mice will eat the crowns of the hostas in winter. Do not mulch too heavily. Southern blight is a fungal disease living in the soil that seriously damages a hosta. Remove the affected plant and discard. Do not replant in the same location.

Things You'll Need

  • Source of water
  • Garden scissors
  • Bleach
  • Trash bag
  • Straw or shredded leaves
  • Planting mix
  • Mulch

References

  • Flora of North America: Hosta plantaginea
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Hosta plantaginea
  • American Hosta Society: About Hosta
  • The Hosta Network: Hosta Tips

Who Can Help

  • Country Living: Winter Care for Hostas
Keywords: hosta winter care, hosta culture, winterizing hosta

About this Author

Janet Belding has been writing for 22 years. She has had nonfiction pieces published in "The Boston Globe," "The Cape Cod Times," and other local publications. She is a writer for the guidebook "Cape Cod Pride Pages." Her fiction has been published in "Glimmer Train Stories." She has a degree in English from the University of Vermont.