Hostas occupy a special place in the heart of shade gardeners. This tough plant produces abundant foliage with little maintenance. Hostas fit into the group of plants called ground covers. These plants grow along the ground and serve as edging plants. Each hosta requires assessment of the roots of individual plants to determine adequate planting depth. Correct determination helps provide the best planting environment for the transplanted hosta.
Hosta Soil Requirements
Hostas thrive in a rich, cultivated soil environment. These plants like plenty of organic material in the soil since roots spread at a relatively shallow depth. The addition of manure or compost promotes healthy root growth and results in fuller foliage. Always till or turn over the soil for new hosta plants to a depth of 12 inches. Cultivation allows the mixing of soil amendments to reach the entire root zone of this ornamental plant.
Nurseries provide hostas in a variety of plastic pots ranging from small 4-inch pots to gallon containers. Plant and container size dictates the planting depth of this ornamental foliage plant. Prepare soil properly and create a hole that mimics the depth of the original planting container. A general rule requires twice the width and a matching depth of the container. When dividing and transplanting mature hosta plants, hole depth should never exceed 12 inches. This plant's roots spread horizontally so planting hole width plays a role in successful transplant. Never bend, crush or twist hosta roots to fit into an existing hole.
Hosta roots vary in height and width based on plant maturity. Roots form at a group of thin tubers clumped together. These roots travel in every direction and feature thinner sucker roots at the tips or mixed into the mass. Hostas divide quite readily with splitting and subsequent transplant into prepared garden locations. A sharp knife or spade shovel easily chops the roots in half.
The horizontal spread of hosta roots requires gardeners to give the hosta a little assistance before planting. Cut away the plastic pot or wiggle the plant carefully free of the container. Loosen compacted soil by pressing your fingers into the roots in a manner similar to combing your hair with your fingers. This method frees the roots and removes old soil. If you choose, direct a moderate stream of water at the roots to remove compacted soil from around the roots before planting.
Mail-order nurseries often ship bare-root plants to gardeners. Bare-root plants benefit from soil cultivation and the addition of organic material to the garden bed. Place the entire bare-root plant into a bucket of room temperature water for an hour before planting. Locate the point where the roots join the solid shoot of the plant. Roots look like spaghetti and shoots look like a tuberous 1-inch nub. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root mass of the bare-root plant. Plant at a depth to place the shoot of the plant immediately below the surrounding soil level. Make a small mound in the planting hole and spread the roots over the mound with the shoot pointing upward. Fill in with amended soil around the bare-root hosta.