Also known as plantain lilies, hostas are grown for their attractive, decorative foliage. A wide variety of hostas exists, from tiny foliage up to leaves that are 18 to 36 inches wide. The leaves come in shades of light or dark green, yellow, gray-green, blue and chartreuse, with some variegated varieties. Hostas' flower stems produce bell-shaped blossoms in mauve, purple, pink or white. Most hostas are propagated by lifting and dividing the fleshy rhizome in the spring after the last freeze or in the fall before the first freeze.
Preparing the Site
Select the garden site for the newly divided hostas. They prefer full sun, but can tolerate light shade. According to the Ohio State University Extension, "the blue-leafed hostas require shade, while the gold, yellow, and white-leafed hostas can tolerate more sun."
Test the soil in the new site a month before planting. Hostas need soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. Test the soil and add either granular sulfur or hydrated lime; Iowa State University Extension offers additional advice on changing the pH.
Amend the soil a month before planting. Hostas need rich, well-draining, loose soil. Dig up the garden site to a depth of 12 to 16 inches and incorporate generous amounts of compost, well-rotted manure, mulch or peat moss.
Dividing the Hosta
Select the hosta to divide. Ohio State University Extension advises to divide "when no shoots are growing from the center of the mature clump and this bare area detracts from the appearance of the plant."
Dig the hole for the new plant before dividing the old hosta. This reduces the time the plant's roots are exposed to air. The hole should be 1 foot deep and almost twice as wide as the mature plant.
Lift the mature hosta from the ground. Rinse soil from the roots. This makes it easier to see the roots. Use a clean, sharp knife to divide the plant. Make sure each section has a set of healthy roots.
Plant the hosta. Hold the plant so that the area where the roots and leaves meet is at ground level. Fill the hole with soil and tamp down. Space hostas according to the size of the mature plant.
Water the newly planted hosta thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots and remove air pockets. Water the plants daily for 2 weeks.
About this Author
After attending Hardin Simmons University, Kay Dean finished her formal education with the Institute of Children's Literature. Since 1995, Dean has written for such publications as "PB&J," Disney’s "Family Fun," "ParentLife," "Living With Teenagers" and Thomas Nelson’s NY Times bestselling "Resolve." An avid gardener for 25 years, her experience includes organic food gardening, ornamental plants, shrubs and trees, with a special love for roses.