May 20, 2010 at 8:52 a.m.

Time to plant Hostas

Time to plant Hostas
Time to plant Hostas

By the third week in May, ground temperatures should be warm enough to safely plant perennials and right now garden centers are bursting with both old favorites and new introductions. Though my perennial gardens contain a wide variety of perennials and shrubs, the ruling class is definitely the Hostas. Over 20 years ago I bought my first six Hosta plants for $1 each and those plants, or divisions of them, continue to be among the almost 250 that reign supreme in my gardens.

Like most perennials, Hostas take three to five years to become well established. Once they are, they require little in the way of special care. Though I amend the area whenever I plant a perennial, the natural state of my soil is sandy and thus, keeping such a huge garden watered enough to provide adequate moisture, can be a challenge. And think of where Hostas typically like to grow....the shade. And what provides the shade are trees who's roots can seriously cause Hostas to compete for much needed moisture so if you have sandy soil and you have Hostas in a shade garden, pay special attention to the moisture which will help them grow lush and reach their growth potential.

Slugs are a common problem regarding Hostas. Using wood mulch to reduce weeds is wonderful, but it can draw in the slugs which can eat their way through the foliage in record time. Keep wood mulch away from the base of the Hosta to discourage slugs. For severe problems, you can use products that are pellet like and are sprinkled around the plant, but please choose a product that is labeled safe for pets and wildlife. When purchasing Hostas, check the label for slug resistant varieties.

Hostas are sometimes referred to as "deer lettuce" because the deer seem to zone in on them before any other plant in the garden. There isn't enough space in this article to discuss the deer issue but, I do use a couple of spray repellent products, that if used regularly, really do discourage the nocturnal munching in my garden.

There are thousands of Hosta varieties to choose from. Some are as large as shrubs and some are teeny tiny, and the names are as interesting as the foliage and size. Of them all, my personal favorite is 'Guacamole' because of its white flower which smells so heavenly. For more information on growing Hostas, please visit the following website: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distri bution/horticulture/M1241.html.


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