- A guide to pruning: What to cut back and when to do it
- Pruning Shrubs, Part 2 – When is the Best Time to Prune?
- Pruning Lavender
- Pruning lavender
- How to prune lavender
- When to prune lavender
- When to cut back lavender
- Pruning by variety
- Pruning English lavender
- Pruning French lavender
- Taking lavender cuttings
- Lavender and roses, a winning combination
- Lavender – the illusion of France
- Lavender facts!
- Expert Tips to an Ultimate Hosta Garden
- When to Divide Hostas
- Where to Plant Hostas
- How to Divide Hostas
- Basic Hosta Plant Care
- Pruning Hostas
- Tips for Pruning a Hosta
- More Details When to Cut Back Hostas for Winter
- How To Trim Hostas for Winter
- When Should You Cut the Flower Blooms off Hostas?
- More About Fall Hosta Care and Cleanup
- Dividing Hostas
- When To Divide Hostas
A guide to pruning: What to cut back and when to do it
As soon as the weather warms up a bit, shrubs, hedges and trees seem to take on a massive growth spurt and it’s time to wield the secateurs.
While first-time gardeners may act with caution, pruning isn’t actually that complicated – the secret is to tackle your plants before they become straggly and out of shape.
Pruning properly should give you more flowers, fruits and general vigour, stripping away old, dead wood and diseased branches, allowing sunlight to the centre of plants to rejuvenate them for the season ahead.
I know some people are worried about cutting plants back too much, but cut a buddleia back hard down to a couple of buds from the ground and you’ll see it tower with fresh blooms in late summer, while cutting back dogwood stems down to the ground will reward you with plenty of fresh, brightly-coloured stems the following season.
So, what should you prune and when?
Most evergreens including conifers don’t need pruning apart from a summer shape-up with shears in the spring. Slow-growing shrubs such as azaleas and hydrangeas also don’t need much pruning and should be allowed to keep their flower heads in winter, which will protect new buds from frost.
Faster-growing deciduous shrubs and trees will need pruning and these fall into two general groups:
1. Those that flower in spring and early summer, including forsythia, philadelphus, kerria and weigela: Flowers are produced on shoots that grew during the previous growing season and should be cut back as soon as they have finished flowering, to allow new shoots to form. Prune them too early, in winter or early spring, and you will cut off the flowers for that year. As soon as the flowers are over, cut back all the stems carrying dead flowers. Follow the stem down until you reach a strong bud and cut just above the point where it grows out on the main branch.
2. Those that flower from early summer onwards, such as buddleia, potentilla and fuschia: Prune in early spring before growth starts, cutting back the old wood (which looks darker and rougher) hard to a low bud, to boost new growth which will give you flowers the same year.
The general rule is if it flowers before mid-June, prune it immediately after flowering; if it flowers later, prune it in late winter or early spring.
What to do
Suckers can be a problem on roses and lilac. Remove the basal shoots from the base of the bush or tree, usually below ground, tracing them to the point of origin, cutting them off close to the main stem. The leaves of rose suckers usually have seven leaflets instead of five.
Shrubs which are not totally hardy, such as Choisya ternata, may have been damaged by frost or cold winds during the winter and you’ll need to cut back the damaged leaves at the tips of the shoots to healthy wood, to make the plant look better and reduce the risk of disease.
Eliminate badly crossing branches which are rubbing against each other from shrubs and trees to prevent congested growth and reduce the risk of disease occurring through friction wounds.
If you have variegated plants such as euonymus which are reverting to green, cut out affected shoots when you notice them, as if they take hold, the whole plant could revert.
Clip small-leaved plants and hedges, such as box, with shears or a hedge trimmer if the plant is large. Larger-leaved shrubs such as spotted laurel should be tackled with secateurs as shears can damage leaves which turn brown and then die.
Grey-leaved plants, such as lavender, can receive a light haircut in spring with shears but make sure you don’t cut back into woody old stems, or they won’t recover. Clip them again after they’ve flowered to keep them tidy. Rosemary can also be clipped in spring when it has finished flowering. If you don’t want it to flower, clip it when you see buds starting to form in late spring.
Whatever else you do with your roses, you must prune them every year. Large-flowered rose bushes (hybrid teas and floribundas) need to be pruned between mid-winter and early spring, cutting back all the stems to around 15-23cm above ground level, cutting out dead wood and thin, weak stems. Shrub roses don’t need hard pruning now, but when you deadhead them in summer, remove 10-15cm of stem along with each spent flower.
Pruning Shrubs, Part 2 – When is the Best Time to Prune?
Pruning your plant at the proper time is the keystone for success. If you prune a flowering shrub at the wrong time of the year, you will probably miss out on that plant’s blooms for that season. While this isn’t the end of the world and the plant will recover to flower again the following year, it is definitely disappointing. The risk of missing out on a season’s worth of flowering is probably the main reason most people fear pruning their shrubs. The good news is that pruning shrubs at the wrong time of year almost never harms the plant itself.
To determine when to prune a plant without interrupting its bloom cycle, you need to know if your shrub flowers on new wood or on old wood. These two terms get thrown around a lot, but are rarely explained in simple terms. Here’s what they mean:
Flowering on new wood means that a plant does not create flower buds until after growth begins in spring. The new growth – or rather, the new wood – the shrub creates that season will be responsible for developing the flower buds that will open later that year. Plants that flower on new wood typically flower later in the growing season. Some examples of plants that flower on new wood include roses, rose of Sharon, panicle hydrangea, and butterfly bush (photo ‘Miss Molly,’ at left.)
Flowering on old wood means that a plant forms the flower buds for next year’s blooms during the current year. The buds are carried through winter on last year’s growth – the old wood. After these plants bloom, they begin forming the flower buds for the following year. Plants that flower on old wood typically flower early in the growing season. There is, however, one very important exception to this, and that is bigleaf hydrangea like the Cityline series or the Let’s Dance series. These flower in mid to late summer on old wood. Some additional examples of plants that flower on old wood include forsythia (photo Show Off®, below right) lilac, and weigela.
Spring is the time to do most of your pruning, but the question is, which part of spring? Plants that flower on new wood can be pruned in early spring, just as the new growth begins. This leaves them plenty of time to recover from pruning and still create flower buds that will bloom that season. The ideal time to do this is after the buds have emerged on the stems, but before they expand. At this point, you can see where the healthy new growth is located, and pruning before the buds leaf out means that the plant doesn’t waste energy on buds you’ll just be cutting off anyway.
Plants that flower on old wood can be pruned immediately after they finish flowering. If you prune before they flower, you’ll remove the flower buds. If you wait too long after they’ve finished blooming, they may not have enough time to create flower buds for next year.
We offer a number of reblooming plants, like Bloomerang® lilac, Sonic Bloom™ weigela, and Bloom-A-Thon® azalea. Reblooming plants are capable of flowering on both old and new wood, so the best time to prune them is immediately after their first wave of bloom, which occurs on the old wood. This allows you to enjoy their spring display and gives them plenty of time to put on new growth for their rebloom. All they require is a light trim after their first bloom to put on new growth, but if you forget to do this, no worries- you’ll still enjoy a great second show!
When you have dead or damaged wood on a shrub, it can be removed any time. Just be absolutely sure it is dead before doing so! It is sometimes tempting, especially in early spring, to look at a plant and assume it is dead or needs to be cut back, but it’s best to put your pruners down and wait to see if any buds emerge. Wood that is damaged can be removed any time too, as can growth that hinders free passage on walkways or makes it difficult to access an area of your yard. When it comes to safety, all of the other pruning guidelines are secondary.
Remember, shrubs do not necessarily require pruning to flower and perform well. If you’re not sure what to do, or you were happy with the plant’s size and performance last year, go ahead and skip the pruning.
Now you know the principles behind the right time to prune shrubs, so let’s talk about what, exactly, you’ll be doing when you prune. If you missed .
Patent Info: ‘Miss Molly’ Buddleia PPAF Can. PP: 4446; Show Off® Forsythia x intermedia ‘Mindor’ PP: 19321;
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Lavender is a strong durable plant for dry, warm borders and known for flowering from spring right though to autumn. The toughest semi-shrub around, every sunny garden needs this heavenly scented staple. One of Europe’s favourite lavender is the ‘Munstead’; a semi-shrub attractive in pots or containers.
How to prune lavender
Not only is lavender incredibly versatile and low maintenance, lavender is easy to prune too! Start pruning after its first season in the soil. If you begin by pinching out the tips of the new growth when the plant is very young, it will respond by forming an aesthetically pleasing and easy to follow pruning shape with lots of blooming growth to work with later.
Using pruning shears cut back at least 1/3. The older the plants, the more vigorous you can be, however, don’t cut down to leafless wood. Give life to the lavender by pruning to the points just above the wood. When pruning well established lavender, cut just above the third node from the wood. This will revitalise existing nodes and they should then produce new stems. Make sure you always leave a few leaves on the branches, even if you want to prune back quite drastically. New branches do not develop readily on old wood.
When to prune lavender
The best time for pruning is once flowering is over but lavender, being the versatile plant it is, can be pruned as and when required. The flowers bloom on the maiden stems each year. This means that pruning can be done anytime from late autumn until early-spring without losing the flowering stems. Lavender in a sunny spot can triple in size each year.
The best time to prune lavender is in autumn. The main pruning can be done as soon as the plant has finished flowering. The autumn pruning should be done before the middle of October, as the branches that are now developing will bear the next season’s flowers. Timely pruning also reduces the risk of damage from an early night frost.
If you have enough space to let your lavender bush grow bigger, you could skip the main annual pruning for one year, although it is still a good idea to remove the dead flowers as this will encourage richer and prolonged flowering.
It is also possible to prune lavender in March if this is done very early, in the first half of the month. Any frozen branches can be cut off and the plant can be given a neat, compact shape. Make sure you always leave a few leaves on the branches, even if you want to prune back quite drastically. This ensures that new branches will develop. Never cut lavender back to the old wood, as this will prevent new branches from forming, and the flowers grow on branches that appear after the spring pruning. Don’t prune if a late frost is expected. Spring pruning instead of autumn pruning will delay flowering slightly.
When to cut back lavender
Cut back lavender after the flowers have finished preparing the plant for the cold winter months. The pruning reduces the plants size, weight, and density. If you decide not to prune, the plant will grow large and dense, forming areas that can collect water which could in time rot the plant, weaken or split the wood and collect snow, deforming the shape.
The other reason we prune lavender is to slow down the formation of the wood growing. We want to slow this process as lavender wood does not rejuvenate once pruned but simply dies. Old wood stops producing new shoot or will produce spaced-out shoots, making your plant look straggly and sparse. A good pruning twice a year will help slow down the formation of wood and extend lifetime of the plant.
Pruning by variety
English lavender is commonly grown in the UK and the hardiest lavender of all. It has pointed leaves and tight, upright spear-like flowers in midsummer. The flower is heavily scented.
Pruning English lavender
You prune English lavender by cutting it back by two thirds in the late August. If necessary, you can cut into the wood. New shoots will quickly appear at the base of the plant. By pruning in the summer, the new shoots will have time to establish and become hardy before winter arrives. By pruning in August, your English lavender plant will remain in good shape for many years. A well-pruned plant can last for more than 25 years without becoming woody.
Pruning French lavender
French Lavender has long flowering stems and enchanting, large flowers topped with purple bracts. Individual plants dotted around the borders look excellent. Every time the wind catches them they sway effortlessly.
French lavender is less hardy than the English lavender and, therefore, you never cut back hard into the bare wood as it could quite easily kill the plant. Shape in late August, aiming for a rounded mound of foliage. Their winter silhouettes can make a huge contribution to the structure of your garden. French lavender has a much shorter life and only last for around five years.
Taking lavender cuttings
Take lavender cuttings from all your varieties in July. Choose young three inch shoots that have just started to harden up. Trim them under the leaf, remove the lower leaves and place them into a 50% compost-and-horticultural-sand mix watering sparingly.
Lavender and roses, a winning combination
If you have planted the lavender to help your roses keep aphid free, a lesser prune can take place in April to delay the lavender flowering time.
Lavender – the illusion of France
The branches removed from your lavender plant can be put to use in several different ways. For instance, you could make lavender bags to place in drawers and cupboards to keep your clothes smelling nice and fresh. The branches cut off during the September pruning are ideal for this.
Not only does lavender provide a scent sensation but it also works as a visual treat. If you have an unsightly part of the garden or a chair that needs covering, why not try a painting of lavender, or a lavender cushion.
- Lavenders are from the southern Mediterranean countries and need a dry position to do well.
- Lavender was originally introduced into Britain by the Romans and used for their antiseptic and relaxation properties.
- Laver is Latin for wash. The flowers were added to water, between linen and onto floors. Bridgwater candles release a delightful lavender fragrance both subtle and relaxing.
- Their flowers, which really attract the bees, contain highly concentrated nectar.
- Pick the flowers of English lavender in early June if you wish to dry them.
Expert Tips to an Ultimate Hosta Garden
Hostas are one of the most commonly grown shade plants. Gardeners love them because they’re among the easiest plants to grow and are a perfect addition to any garden. Follow these tips from the experts on everything involving hosta plant care: when and where to plant hostas, how to divide hostas, caring for hostas, and pruning hostas.
When to Divide Hostas
The best time of year to divide hostas is late summer (August or early September). But don’t worry if you forget—you can divide hostas any time from spring to fall.
Dividing Hostas in the Spring
You’ll have about a four-week window to divide your hostas. Dividing hostas in the spring is best before they have fully developed and when the hosta eyes are starting to grow up.
Dividing Hostas in the Fall
Fall division is also about a four-week window. September to October is the ideal time, especially in northern climates—the farther north you are, the earlier you divide. Make sure to allow at least three or four weeks for the hostas to become established before the soil freezes solid. A cooler, humid climate is best for dividing hostas.
Here’s a hint: If you need to divide your hostas in the summer, be sure to keep them well-watered for a few weeks to help them get through the shock of being transplanted.
You’ll know your hostas need to be divided when they get too crowded and the center of a clump starts to die out. As a general rule, count on dividing the plants every three to four years to keep them at their healthiest. Some slow-growing varieties may need more time before they’re ready for division. You may be able to divide fast-growing varieties every two or three years.
Where to Plant Hostas
Making sure your hostas are planted in the correct location is key to their survival. Choose shady areas with low levels of sunlight. Hostas love moisture, so staying away from the sun and its damaging rays is an ideal part of hosta care.
You will want to plant hostas with fresh, organic matter. This way, your hosta garden will retain as much water as possible. Fresh soil also helps in disease control.
How to Divide Hostas
Every three to four years, divide hostas to keep your garden alive and well.
If your hostas aren’t too large, dig out the entire clump.
- Dig around the hosta clump in a circle, then use your shovel as a lever to lift the clump out of the ground.
- Once it’s out of the ground, you should notice that the clump is made up of many individual plants. If there’s still a lot of soil around the plant, wash it off so you can see the hosta crowns.
- Carefully break apart the clumps into divisions made up of at least three sets of shoots coming out of a crown.
If your hostas are too large, use your shovel to cut the clump into divisions.
- Carefully dig out the sections from the original hole.
- Replant themin a low light or shady area.
Here’s a hint: Many gardeners find that it’s easiest to divide hostas using a garden fork or flat spade.
Basic Hosta Plant Care
Once your hostas are planted, maintenance is the easy part. Water hostas frequently—they thrive on moisture and humid climates. Too much sun dries out hostas and interrupts their growth. Although hostas are typically not disease-prone, slugs are a difficulty you may face. There are a number of different “slug traps” to rid your garden of these pests, one of which includes beer (you heard us right—beer!). Fill a shallow dish with beer and place next to your hostas. Slugs are attracted to yeast, so they’ll steer away from your hostas and toward the beer trap. Also try spreading eggshells or coffee grounds around your hosta plant—both of these are fatal barriers to slugs.
Pruning your plants, or cutting away dead or overgrown plant matter, is necessary in order to keep your plant alive—and pruning hostas is no different.
Simply cut off all the yellow, damaged, or dead leaves. Make sure to remove these leaves at their root or the point where they start to emerge from the main plant. Be sure to throw away all unwanted scraps to decrease the likelihood of disease development.
Tips for Pruning a Hosta
Hosta plants are appealing and versatile perennials that are comfortable in many gardens or landscape settings. They come in various sizes and colors, and can help add contrast to your gardens. However, in order to keep your hostas looking their best, you will occasionally need to prune them and keep them thinned. Pruning your hostas is fairly simple exercise, and this article will help you by providing some useful tips.
Pruning Your Hostas
Get rid of wilted leaves by pruning them back to within 6 inches of the crown, and then cover them with straw and pine mulch. This will help to moderate temperature changes if you live in a colder climate. Next spring, make sure you remove the mulch.
Cutting faded blooms will help your hosta plant maintain its beautiful appearance. Once the blooms have died, you don’t need to leave them on the plant. Removing stalks is a good idea as well. Taking steps to properly prune your hostas will ensure that they grow big and beautiful all season long.
When pruning your hostas, take your time and make small, deliberate cuts. Avoid trying to rush and don’t attempt to cut or prune too much of the plant at one time. A little effort and patience when pruning your hostas will be rewarded with healthier and more beautiful plants.
So many shady garden spots are home to hosta plants! Hostas are a herbaceous perennial, meaning that the leaves die back to the ground in the winter. Here’s how to schedule cutting back hosta leaves each year.
So, when should hostas be cut back? Hostas should be cut back in late fall. Healthy hosta leaves can be left on in the early fall to help the roots store energy, but all leaves should be trimmed off after the first frost. Try to have the leaves removed prior to snowfall.
There’s a few factors to consider when scheduling fall hosta pruning. Here’s what I’ve found with my hostas.
More Details When to Cut Back Hostas for Winter
Every year I cut back my hosta plants in the late fall. In years with an early first frost, the leaves go brown quickly and die back to the ground in October. Hosta leaves don’t survive frost well. When the first frost arrives quickly, all the spent plant material above the ground can be removed at once.
In years with a late start to winter, I sometimes remove hosta leaves while they’re still upright and green. By October, my hosta leaves have generally been attacked by the odd pest and have become damaged. I thought it was just my hostas for a few years, but now I’ve noticed that hostas in many different gardens seem to be a treat for pests! Once the frost has hit them, it’s time to think about winterizing them.
Here’s a little video of how I cut back my hostas. This year I cut them back during the last week of October (after the first freeze).
I like to remove any dead, damaged, or diseased foliage as soon as possible, and hostas are no exception. Pest damaged or diseased leaves should be removed and discarded as soon as possible. Hosta leaves can also be damaged by harsh weather like wind or hail. The plant can channel it’s energy into the healthy parts of the plant once the damaged leaves are gone.
Here’s a hosta during the first week of September. It’s got one badly damaged leaf on the bottom left that should be removed, but the other leaves still look happy and healthy!
Pruning off dead, damaged, or diseased foliage can happen any time of year. While it’s nice to leave some foliage over winter for beneficial insect habitat, I’ve found hostas to be not the right candidate for overwintering. The wet foliage is simply too attractive a shelter for common garden pests.
Hosta plants are particularly susceptible to damage from slugs and snails, which love their big shady leaves. I think hostas must be a delicacy for slugs! Removing any less-than-healthy foliage makes the hosta plants less attractive to slugs (and more attractive to look at in your garden).
Hosta leaves turn yellow in the fall and fade to brown as the plants enter winter dormancy. The roots of the plant are still healthy and happy below ground, but the hosta won’t have any leaves until next spring.
Dead leaves are pest friendly, so you’ll do well to start pruning hosta plants as the foliage fades. Trim back all the leaves and foliage at ground level, then back it up and dispose of it. That helps things look neat in the garden and keeps bugs from overwintering snugly in the dead leaves.
How To Trim Hostas for Winter
So how do you trim hostas for winter? Gather the leaves up together with a gloved hand so that the leaf stems are visible. Cut each hosta leaf off at the bottom of the stem using a pair of pruning shears. It’s often easier to remove hosta leaves that have already been killed by frost….leaves that are still upright take slightly more work.
I like to leave a few inches of stem on the plant above the soil when trimming off hosta leaves. The garden looks neat and tidy, AND I know where my plants are!
Other than pest habitat issues, the other reasons to prune hostas back to the ground before winter are mainly aesthetic. Dead hosta leaves aren’t the most attractive way to add winter interest in your garden. They get flattened on the ground and remain wilted for the entire winter. I’d prefer to leave pretty seed heads from other perennials up over the winter.
Sad Hosta Plants After a Hard Freeze = Ready to be Cut Back!
Winter is an important time for hostas, as they are dormant in this season. The cold temperatures let the hostas rest and prepare to grow fantastic foliage during the spring growing season.
If you do choose to leave the hosta leaves on the plant over winter, it’s totally fine just to remove the spent foliage in early spring. Try to trim off the dead leaves before the new shoots appear to minimize damage to the baby hosta leaves. By this point, you can usually just gently pull each hosta leaf off the root base instead of using pruners to remove them.
When Should You Cut the Flower Blooms off Hostas?
What about the flowers? When should the blooms be removed from hostas? Remove the flower stalks as soon as they appear if the hosta is only about pretty foliage. If you would like to enjoy the flowers, it’s also totally fine to let them bloom and fade on the plant. Flower stalks will die back to the ground in the fall with the foliage.
Here’s one of my hostas just as it started blooming in the summer. The leaves are happy and it grew the most wonderful fragrant little purple flowers on the flower shoot. Here’s the same hosta plant in mid-September. The flower bloom is spent, the leaves have been hit with some hail, and the slugs and deer have been munching it. It’s definitely time to consider pruning these raggedy leaves back to the ground!
So when are wilted flowers removed from hosta plants? Spent flower blooms can be removed in the fall along with other faded foliage. You may wish to leave the seed head on the plant for a while as a food source for birds. It’s not strictly necessary to rush and trim them off as soon as they wilt. Let them do their thing!
Do remember that any energy the plant is putting into growing flowers (and then seed heads), is energy that’s not going into the foliage and roots. I usually remove new flower shoots on new hosta plants to encourage healthy root establishment.
Hostas usually only put on one round of blooms, so flower removal only has to be done once a year. Like with pruning hosta leaves, remove the flower stems near the base. Pruning the stem low keeps the visual focus on the foliage.
Read more about using hostas in your ornamental gardens in this article from Farmer’s Almanac.
More About Fall Hosta Care and Cleanup
Fall hosta care is mainly about preventing cozy conditions for unwanted garden pests. Use clean tools to minimize opportunities for germs to spread. Remove dead or damaged foliage that could provide winter shelter for critters. Seed heads can be left for the birds, or removed along with the foliage.
Overwintering Container Hostas
Hostas need a good cool winter of dormancy to thrive during the summer months. They do better in the ground during the winter than in container gardens. The ground temperature isn’t susceptible to the same extreme swings that container plants may experience. Like many plants, hostas don’t appreciate repeated freezing and thawing cycles.
If your hostas are already in the ground, keep them there. Any container planted hostas can be planted out in the ground in early fall or otherwise protected from the temperature extremes of winter.
If Your Hosta Needs A Little Extra Care in the Fall
A layer of shredded leaf mulch will provide a bit of cold-weather insulation if its really required. Any mulch touching (or nearly touching) the base of the hosta should be removed in early spring to avoid creating the same “wet blanket” mess that the broad hosta leaves would have left.
Both hosta leaves and shredded fall leaves can be added to your compost pile, as long as they’re not diseased. Here’s instructions for how to compost leaves at the end of the season (hint….there’s coffee involved!).
Further Reading: How to Winterize Perennials – A Complete Guide
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How to properly divide your hostas. Watch Richard Merritt of New Hampshire Hostas as he shows you step-by-step how to propagate your hostas. Richard talks about the best time of year to transplant hostas, the tools to use and the soil and type of compost he uses at New Hampshire Hostas.
When To Divide Hostas
There are two ideal times to divide your hosta: Spring and Fall.
The reasons are simple:
- There is reduced demand by the foliage for water.
- There is usually more moisture available than during summer.
Inevitably, when you divide plants, you are losing some of the root system.
Hosta Division In The Spring
Spring division is about a four week window. Once the hosta eyes are popping up and before they have begun to unfurl is the window of opportunity to make your move.
Hosta Division In The Fall
Fall division is also an approximately four week window. In the northern climates this is going to be the month of September and, as you go south, that window for dividing hostas moves later into October. Cool moist weather is what you want. Make your decision based on the long range weather forecasts.
What You Need To Know
Generally, lifting and dividing hostas is setting them back several years in maturity. How far you set them back depends on how much root system is lost in the process. So, the question that you should be asking yourself before you proceed to divide your hostas is this: How many plants do you need and how far back in maturity are you willing to set them?
Why Are You Dividing Your Hostas?
Why do you divide hosta? I bring this up because I get the sense from some customers that they divide them too often.
Hosta Plants Only Improve With Age When They Are In The Right Location.
Some of the giant or jumbo hosta cultivars do not reach maturity for five years and they continue to improve in appearance as the overall clump expands. Hostas may reach a space limit and slow down in growth, but they rarely decline from space constriction. If they are in decline, it is more likely a poor site for that cultivar. They should be relocated to a more suitable location.
Adding To Your Garden Design
If you want more plants of a particular hosta cultivar to meet your garden design needs, there are several ways to do this.
- One thing that I frequently do is lift a clump and divide it into quarters or thirds.
- I then reset it in the same location with a slightly wider spacing.
- It provides me with a larger appearance of this hosta and, by summer, you are not able to tell it was divided.
Sharing Your Hosta With A Friend
If you are looking to give a friend a piece of your favorite hosta plant, you can often times cut off one of the outermost eyes without disturbing the primary clump.
How To Divide Hostas
- If the soil is not moist from rainfall, it’s helpful to water the day before you’re going to divide your hostas.
- Remember that the fewer roots you cut off the better the transplant is going to go.
- Depending on the size of the clump, sink your spade into the ground all the way around the clump far enough away to not be cutting off much root.
- Depth may be 8 inches or eighteen inches depending on the cultivar of hosta.
- From one or more sides, cut under the clump and pry it out of the hole.
- I like to set a tarp on the ground near by to place the clump on. This provides for an easy clean up after dividing clumps.
How To Approach Dividing Hostas
Assuming that you have lifted a fairly substantial clump of, say, 30 eyes, you can approach it in several ways.
- Use A Straight Spade
- If you halve, third or quarter a large clump, you can do this without setting your hosta back hardly at all.
- Place the hosta on a board for a firm surface.
- Using a straight spade, make your cuts. Try to slice as few eyes as possible.
- Shake & Pull
- If you have the patience, you can gradually shake off soil and eventually either pull the clump apart or get a heavy knife into the clump and not lose any hosta eyes.
- Certain cultivars pull apart easier than others, but most need to be cut.
So, do you cut a clump of 30 eyes into 3 pieces or 30? To each their own according to their needs. If you are cutting hosta into individual eyes, I use old kitchen knives. If you are halving or quartering, I use a heavy straight spade.
Planting Your Divisions
When you are resetting your hosta plant divisions, they should be the same depth that they were prior to division. This is the ideal time to enrich your soil with ample amounts of compost – and don’t forget to soak them after planting. This will help to eliminate air pockets as well as insure that the now reduced root system is in contact with moisture.