How & When to Divide Hosta Plants

Overview

Hosta form the backbone to many home gardens with an abundant display of foliage and consistently beautiful hardy plants. Hostas come in over 2,500 different varieties to suit any preference as a mainstay in the shade perennial garden. Hosta plants reach maturity in 4 to 8 years, according to Ohio State University Extension Service. These plants often require division when the center of the plant exhibits bare areas or when the plant outgrows its current location.

Step 1

Schedule the division of your hostas for the late spring before the plant produces abundant foliage and when the ground can be easily worked after it thaws. Easier access to the roots and less weight to the plant makes dividing hosta during this time a smart move for the gardener. Scheduling division during this time also allows the plant to become establish throughout the warmer growing season.

Step 2

Choose a new location for the transplants in partial sun or shade. Turnover this section of the garden to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Mix a 3-inch layer of peat moss into the soil to add nutrients to the soil and improve water retention.

Step 3

Dig around the existing hosta plant about 6 to 8 inches away from the center foliage mass with the spade shovel. Hosta roots lie about 6 inches beneath the surface of the soil for easy removal. Avoid tugging on foliage to remove the clump. Loosen the soil around the plant and then push the spade shovel under the bulk of the roots. Push down to lift the entire clump from the soil.

Step 4

Move the hosta clump carefully to a level area of the garden and spray the roots with the garden hose to remove soil. Expose as much of the root mass as possible to allow a good view of the entire root ball. You must be able to see exactly where you should make your cuts for dividing the hosta.

Step 5

Use the knife to split the roots into 2 even sections. Outer roots may simply wiggle free from the clump. Divide the two sections again based on your own preference. Remember that hosta matures quickly so leaving a large bunch in place will require further division in the not-too-distant future. Too much division will limit growth and restrict mature foliage development.

Step 6

Move the clumps to the new location and place the plant into the hole to gauge planting depth. The top of the root ball should lie about 1 inch below the surrounding soil level. Add or remove soil as needed and toss a few handfuls of peat moss into the bottom of the planting hole. Place the hosta in the hole and fill in around the roots. Press the soil firmly with your hands to settle air pockets around the roots.

Step 7

Return to the original hosta location and turn over the soil at that location, adding peat moss to enrich the soil. Replant one clump of hosta in this location and fill in with amended soil.

Step 8

Water both areas well to encourage quick root acclimation for the hosta. Direct the hose spray towards the base of the plant rather than the leaves to allow water to soak deeply into the soil. Baby the plants during the first few weeks with regular watering when the soil appears dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade shovel
  • Peat moss
  • Knife
  • Mulch
  • Garden hose

References

  • Ohio State University: Growing Hostas
  • University of Illinois: Perennial Garden Design - Dividing
Keywords: hosta division, hosta transplant, dividing hostas

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.