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How to Prune Hostas for Winter

Hosta plants are a bush type perennial that thrives in shady conditions. The hosta plant is native to Asia and is known for having attractive foliage in shades of green, white, blue and yellow. The plants reach a height between two to four feet and produce trumpet shaped flowers in various shades of white, lavender and blue. Hosta plants are hardy in USDA growing zone three through eight, however the foliage will die off when ground temperatures reach 28 degrees F.

Allow the hosta plant foliage to die off naturally after the fall frost has begun. Many hosta varieties will present leaf color changes similar to trees. This is an important step for creating winter energy stores.

Cut and remove all foliage to the plant base once it has shriveled and dried. Remove surrounding debris including diseased and damaged plant growth.

Place slug control around the plants in the fall season if a problem exists. There are several options available including commercially purchased traps and chemicals.

Apply a layer of peat moss mulch around hosta plants to protect them during the snow and cold of winter. Mulch is not required in all areas but will protect newly transplanted plants and those growing in areas with severe winter cold that cause the ground to heave.

Remove the mulch covering in late March before the plant leaves begin to emerge from the ground. Gently rake the mulch and compost it if applicable.

Apply slug control in the spring immediately after removing mulch. Destroy egg clusters and adult slugs if present around the plants.


Do not cut back hosta plants in the fall season while they are still green. This will deplete their winter energy stores.

Heavy mulch and ground cover will provide hiding areas for slugs. Eliminate the problem prior to applying winter mulch.

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