When to split hostas?

When is the best time to separate and transplant hostas??

Hi, Carmen: Hostas are a staple in any shade-loving garden. And with some of the newer cultivars they are happy to grow in full to part sun as well. Although they are not typically grown for their blooms, the foliage makes for a great display. Selections include shades of green, blue, yellow, and white as well as variegated options. Dividing these perennials becomes necessary when they become overcrowded or start to die out in the middle. Division rejuvenates our plants and is a great way to spread our favorites among the garden or share with friends. They can be divided in the early spring just as the “eyes” are emerging or later in the season as long as they have 4-6 weeks to establish their roots before the frost arrives. When you divide, use a sharp spade to lift the entire plant out of the soil. Keep as much of the roots attached as possible and then use your spade to separate into smaller individual plants. It is always a good idea to prepare the new holes before digging up any plant. The more time out of the soil the more likely the roots are to dry out, so get them back in the soil and watered as soon as possible. Be sure they are planted at the same soil level and they have enough space for the roots to spread. After transplanting, treat them like a new addition to the garden in terms of moisture and avoid fertilizing for the first year. Hostas thrive in nutrient-rich, moist, but well-drained soil. Apply a thin layer of mulch to help keep the weeds down and the moisture in. Mulch will also help deter slugs that love to feed on hostas. Happy gardening!

Angie Oakley

Kentucky Living-Ask the Gardener

Barb Asked

When is the best time to separate hostas for more plantings? Also, where can we find the Knock Out Rose radsunny? Local garden centers don’t seem to have them.

Share This

The Gardener’s Answer

Hello, Barb: Hostas can be divided anytime from the spring through the early fall. The ideal time to divide them is now through September. Just be sure that you are going to be in town to water them while they are getting adjusted to their new home. When you decide to divide them, use a garden fork or spade and dig up the entire plant, being careful not to damage any of the roots in the process. After the plant is lifted out of the ground, lay it on its side and use your hands to pull apart the divisions. If the plant is very large and established, you may need to use your spade to divide the hosta. Make sure to keep as much of the root system intact as possible and transplant them immediately. Having your holes pre-dug is a great way to reduce stress during the process, and getting them back in the soil so the roots are not exposed to the heat and wind is essential for a successful transplant. Water well for the next month and avoid fertilizing at least until next spring. As for the newest Knock Out Rose, check around at your local garden centers to see if they carry the Sunny Knock Out Rose, or if this not a plant they usually have ask them if they could special order for you. In most cases any locally owned garden center or nursery is happy to oblige as long as they have access to these plants. In some cases the growers that they purchase from do not grow these plants so you would have to go another route. We do carry them at The Plant Kingdom in Louisville if you wanted to make the trip. We would be happy to hold one or more for you. Our Phone number is (502) 893-7333. There are several sources online if you wanted to mail order these roses.

Have a question for the Gardener?


December 23, 2017

We have about ten large hosta plants around a persimmon tree that is well shaded. We have never divided them. They are beautiful each year and are really the focal point of that area of the yard. They seem to really thrive where they are. They are also more special because they were grown from cuttings from my mother’s plants some 10-15 years ago. The problem is the persimmon tree. It overhangs our driveway and has finally gotten so obnoxious with the persimmons falling on our concrete driveway that we are taking the tree out and grinding the stump. We would like to transplant the hosts this week. I know it’s not the ideal time to transplant them, but would they survive? Also, do you have any tips on increasing our chances of success? The area we anticipate moving them is beneath a hickory tree, but it receives significantly more sun. Is this a bad idea? Another idea is to move them temporarily so they aren’t damaged with the tree/stump removal, plant them and then in early spring plant them in a more permanent location.

Hosta plants are fairly resilient and I think would take the move in stride. The key is to find a location that gets afternoon shade during the summer months. Moving them now that they are dormant, the sunlight really is not a factor. Moisture is. We have been fairly dry this fall, so be sure to water them well after you move them and add a light layer of mulch. Pay attention to rainfall and if we stay behind, consider watering. This is not a daily task, nor necessarily a weekly one. The key is to pay attention. Watering needs will vary based on natural rainfall, temperature and wind conditions. They don’t have a huge established root system yet, so they need a little TLC. You can move them to a permanent spot or a temporary one and move again in the spring. If you are planning on dividing them at the same time, you may want to leave a few more crowns per division for added protection of the roots. If you are considering the temporary move and replanting in the spring, hold off on the division until the second move.

July 22, 2017

Because we have so much shade we converted over half of our back yard to Hostas. We have over a thousand of various kinds in 4 different “Hostas Beds”. We have shared many splittings with friend and neighbors over the years for their yards. We cut them down in late November and then we mulch the beds in February with bark mulch and fertilize them with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. My question is—do you know of a good weed preventer that I could spread in late January that would keep the late winter and early spring weeds down and not harm the Hostas? We live in Bentonville and love our acre and half back yard but in our older years the weeds are getting to be a too big a problem for us —even with the constant application of bark mulch.

Probably your best bet would be Surflan or Treflan (Preen is one common name). These are pre-emergent herbicides that will prevent annual weeds. It will not help control perennial weeds or grasses including nutgrass, Bermudagrass (which thankfully doesn’t like shade) or other perennials, but would definitely help with the annual summer weeds.

September 10, 2016

My neighbor and I have a rabbit that is eating our hostas. He’s not eating the leaves, just tearing the plant up and maybe eating some of the leaf stems. Is there anything that we can do to stop this. The animal is ruining our plants. When he’s done, it looks like the hosta was run over with a lawnmower.

When it comes to animal problems you need to try as many things as possible. Some people have luck with a small fence around the garden, others use lion urine, sprays of raw eggs, or animal repellents. For many of these treatments they do need to be reapplied after a rain or irrigation. Scare devices may also help.

January 2, 2016

I had almost a dozen hosta plants that I grew in pots all summer long. They have dormant now and are out on my deck. A friend told me they will die in pots outside for the winter. Is there some place I should move them to help them survive or have I already waited too late?

I grow hostas in pots on the deck and in the soil in my garden, and they both come back great every year—even after the past two hard winters. The size of the container can make a difference. If the pots are really small, there isn’t as much protection for the root system, since the soil will get colder, but I even had one that I didn’t get planted in a 4 inch pot that came back after last winter—they are tougher than you think. So far this winter we have had ample moisture, but if really low temperatures are predicted, make sure the pots have not totally dried out and you should be fine. Pot size will also determine eventual mature size of the plants, since the roots are more constricted.

March 2014

I need to divide hosta plants. When and how should I do so? Do I trim my Rose of Sharon and do I need to eliminate some of the plants that number 14 in a row (line) that provide privacy?

As soon as you see life beginning in your hosta, you can start dividing. Dig up the clump and separate. Try to leave at least two to three crowns per division. A crown is a cluster of leaves that comes from the base. If you over-divide, and plant each crown individually, you won’t have a nice full plant this growing season. As to your Rose of Sharon, or althea, if you want to manage plant height, now is the time to prune them. They bloom on the new growth, so pruning needs to be accomplished before they are kicking into full foliage. You do not mention how much spacing is between the 14 plants. If they have enough room to grow unhindered from competition, then there is no reason to thin them. If they aren’t blooming well because they are too crowded, you may want to remove a few plants to allow the full potential of the remaining plants to come through.

August 2012

I have quite a few different kinds of plants and shrubs- Hosta, hydrangeas, day lilies, caladiums, azaleas, heuchera, lorapetalums, etc. They are shaded, semi-shaded and in the sun. I have set up a “drip” system on a timer and with adjustable heads, so I can vary the amount of water (but not the frequency) to each plant. Can you recommend a reference source where I can get precise information for watering? Most instructions I have seen are very vague.

Unfortunately I don’t think such a guide exists, since there are so many plants out there, and so many variables. Variables include the type of plant, the type of soil—rich, deep soil or pitiful rocky soil; slope of the yard, amount of sunlight or shade the plant gets, age of the plants, and plant spacing. Of the plants you mentioned, hydrangeas, hostas and azaleas would be the most water needy, but again amounts will vary by how much sunlight they receive, your soil, and how much space you have between plants. Caladiums will need more water in the sun than in the shade, and I find that loropetalums are pretty drought tolerant once established. Daylilies can definitely take dry conditions, but it will impact blooming. The key is to really learn your landscape. I have beds in full sun in which some plants wilt regardless of how much I water when temperatures exceed 100, and I have some old established beds with hollies, aucuba and camellias that seem to take what life throws at them.

January 2012

I have 3 or 4 large hostas plants that have gotten too big for the area where they are currently planted. When is it a good time to dig these up and relocate them. Also, is there anything extra I need to do to insure the plants will re-establish themselves.

Hostas are quite easy to divide and replant. When you see signs of them emerging in the spring, dig up the clump and cut between divisions. I find a serrated bread knife does the best trick, but anything that makes a nice clean cut will work. Leave two or three crowns per division. A crown of a plant is the area where the stems meet the roots. When hostas get growing, they often can have six or more crowns in each plant. If you over-divide and separate them down to one crown per division, it will give you a small plant and they will not bounce back as quickly.

June 2010

My husband has planted several hostas in our yard and put impatiens between each. The deer have eaten ALL the impatiens and are taking bites from the hostas. Can you suggest anything to sprinkle, etc. around these plants to keep the deer away?

Actually, I am surprised that they are going after the impatiens first instead of the hostas. Hostas tend to be one of their favorite plants to eat. There are several products on the market for deer repellents, including Scram, Deer Away and several others. You can also mix raw eggs with water and spray that on your desirable plants. To take it a step further, you can install electric fencing around the desirable beds, or just invest in a good dog. Whenever you have animal issues, try a variety of approaches. Some people swear by Irish Springs soap hanging in the plants, while others have luck with human hair—but these animals are becoming much more familiar with human smells since they are living in such urbanized areas now.

June 2008

I have a small flower bed, 4ft. X 8ft. max that has been taken over by the Bermuda grass in our lawn. When I cleaned it up this spring I put wet newspapers all through out and up close to the plants that are there and then mulched well with cypress mulch. The bed has some hostas, day lilies and a peony bush. This is our fifth summer in this house, the grass was sodded when we built the house, and little did we know how it would spread. I thought maybe this fall I would dig up my plants and treat the area and the border around it with something to kill it off. Any suggestions or help you could give me would be appreciated.

Bermuda is a tenacious weed and often seems to grow better where we don’t want it. There are some grass specific herbicides you can use and now is an ideal time to use them. The key is to let the grass green up and start to spread and then treat. Brand names include Grass-b-gone, Over the Top, Ornamec and Vantage. This will kill the grass without damaging your daylilies, hostas or peony. Once the grass is killed, pull out the dead grass and mulch well. Keep a buffer zone between your lawn and flower beds to give yourself an area to keep clean.

September 2007

When would be the best time to transplant some hosta bulbs?

Hostas can be dug and divided this fall as they are going dormant, or next spring as they emerge. If you know you want to divide or move them, get it done this fall, and you will have stronger plants for next growing season.

August 2007

Would you please advise me when is the best time to transplant hostas – fall or spring? I would like to do it this fall, if possible.

Actually you have both options. Perennial plants that bloom in the summer–such as hostas, can be divided either in the fall or spring. If you know they need division or transplanting, doing so in the fall will give you a stronger plant next growing season, since you are giving them all fall and winter to establish a root system. So plan to transplant them this fall when the weather gets cooler and the plants begin dying back. When you do divide, don’t get carried away and make too many divisions or it will take them longer to recover.

May 2007

I think I need to divide my hostas and daylilies. What is the best time to do this and the best method?

Hostas and daylilies can be divided either in the spring as they are emerging or in the fall when they go dormant. We typically divide perennials based on their season of bloom. Spring blooming plants are best divided in the fall, and fall ones in the spring. Those that bloom in the summer can be divided either spring or fall. You can dig up the entire clump, and then using a sharp serrated knife cut through the root ball, making sure you have at least a crown or two per division. Then replant.

September 2006

I have planted hostas in pots and other shade areas around the yard. Every year the potted ones lose their leaves eventually, starting at the edges which turn brown. Do you have any suggestions to prevent this? Is this an insect problem or dry conditions? I notice around town there are several plantings that have the same problem. Second, the hostas planted around the trees are obviously chewed off, probably by rabbits. Is there a spray, or anything to deter them? I don’t think it is deer because the hostas planted in tall pots are not affected.

Hostas are actually better garden plants versus container plants unless you can assure them ample moisture. If hostas get too dry or too much sun, the edges can burn and they can begin their decline a bit early in the season. With ample moisture and soil fertility, many varieties can last until a killing frost–but there is variability based on varieties. Hostas are salad bars for deer. Rabbits like them as well, but deer love them. They are also a favorite of slugs. Slugs are easier to combat than the animals, but you first need to determine the culprit before you choose your control options.

May 2006

Please tell me what to do about the creatures that eat my hostas every year! What do I do about the slugs (I THINK) they’re the culprits!

Slugs do love hostas, and this year they are having a field day with all the moisture we have had. Some folks seem to have slugs on top of slugs! There are numerous remedies for slugs. Many have found success mulching their plants with sweetgum balls or eggshells – (it would take a lot of eggs to mulch solid.) Slugs don’t like to cross over anything sharp or spiny, so they usually stay away. There are also numerous slug baits on the market, but do use caution as they can be harmful to pets. Beer traps are another way to control slugs–or at least monitor for them.

May 2006

I have successfully stopped my slug problem on my beautiful hosta garden!! A heavy load of sweet gum balls as mulch. But now I have these uninvited guests consuming the leaves. Can they be sprayed or dusted now?

From the photo it appears they are lady bugs and lady bug larvae–that is the small alligator looking creature in the picture you sent. They should not be cutting holes in the leaves, but feeding on aphids that may be present. Lady bugs are beneficial insects in all stages, and don’t harm plants. Look closely to make sure you have no slugs hiding or possibly caterpillars feeding. There are numerous insects that can feed on hostas, but the lady bugs aren’t the culprit.

May 2006

I recently had a hail storm that beat my hostas up real good, they were beautiful. Should I go ahead and cut them back or let them be and just gradually clip off the torn up leaves when I get new growth. Thanks

We have been having the storms lately, haven’t we? Clean up as many of the jagged leaves as possible. I would try to leave some foliage above ground to make food for the plant during the recovery process, but leaving a bunch of ragged leaves is not attractive either. Once the plant has recovered, clean up the rest of the damaged leaves. Lightly fertilize to aid in the recovery time.

May 2006

I have some hostas and a hydrangea that need to be moved. They are struggling because they get way too much sun. When do I move them-fall or spring?

I would move them this fall. Let the weather cool off a bit and then make the move. I sometimes recommend waiting until late winter for hydrangeas to get them through the winter with a stronger root system, but if they are in the wrong locale then I would go ahead and make the move. Hydrangeas do best on the east or north side of the house.

All links to external sites open in a new window. You may return to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture web site by closing this window when you are finished. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information, or the accessibility for people with disabilities listed at any external site.

Links to commercial sites are provided for information and convenience only. Inclusion of sites does not imply University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s approval of their product or service to the exclusion of others that may be similar, nor does it guarantee or warrant the standard of the products or service offered.

The mention of any commercial product in this web site does not imply its endorsement by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture over other products not named, nor does the omission imply that they are not satisfactory.

Yes, summertime really is the perfect time for dividing hostas and daylilies!

Many think that the summer heat is simply too hot to split and divide perennials from the landscape. This is indeed true for some plants. Take for instance ornamental grasses. Splitting and replanting grasses while in full-growth mode can lead to instant death for the wispy perennials. They simply have too tough of a time re-establishing their root systems in the sweltering summer sun.

However, when it comes to dividing hostas and daylilies, two landscaping staples, it’s the perfect time to create new plants!

Dividing Hostas And Daylilies In The Summer

Daylilies are one of the easiest perennials to divide, even in the summer

Although you can split plants in the spring and fall, there are a lot of advantages to dividing hostas and daylilies in the summer. For one, you can easily tell which plants are overgrown and need to be split. It can be hard to judge a perennials growth in the early spring before its foliage has come to life. But in mid-summer, spotting over-sized plants is a breeze.

Splitting and replanting in the summer also allows time for the plants to re-establish roots by fall. Setting the stage for full-growth during the following year. Unfortunately, when dividing in the fall, it can take the entire next year for plants to really take off.

Summer is also a great time to purchase and add in a few small new varieties of plants to grow for future splits. Plant Links : 6 Plant Hosta Mixed Plant Variety

How To Divide Plants In The Summer

Dividing in the summer is a bit different from spring and fall splitting. Understand that once you dig up plants, it will take a few weeks for the root system to spring forth new foliage.

Don’t be alarmed as plants will lose all of their existing foliage. As the current growth dies off, fresh shoots will appear at the base of the plants as they re-establish growth.

Dig the entire plant up, being careful to get the entire root ball.

Step 1 : Choose mature and / or overgrown plants to maximize the yield of new starts. Start by cutting the foliage of the plant down to around 2″ from the ground. This makes it easier when it comes time to split.

Dig up the entire plant, being sure to remove the entire root ball. For severely overgrown plants, dig around the edge of the whole plant to help loosen the roots from the ground.

Step 2 : Turn the plant over so that the flat, cut portion of the foliage is now laying on the ground with the root ball exposed. Use a sharp shovel or axe to slice the plants into new divisions. The axe works really well as a plant splitter, cutting roots quick, clean, and with ease.

Leave a minimum of one square inch of root ball for each new plant you would like to create. Two to three-inch cuttings are ideal for 6 to 8″ plant when re-established.

Depending on the size of the original, you can usually get 6 to 12 new plants with each plant divided.

Replanting The New Transplants

Dividing Hostas – You can pot up extra divisions to use later.

Step 3 : Dig new planting holes deep enough to plant roots along with 1″ of the existing top foliage underneath the soil. By planting a bit of the foliage under the soil, it helps to keep roots “mulched” and protected while they establish new growth. The remaining foliage on top will brown and die off completely as new growth slowly emerges.

Water at the time of planting, and continue to water every few days until new foliage begins to appear.

Potting Up Extra Plants

If you are not quite sure where to put all of your new plants, you can pot them up to give to friends, or to use later as needed.

Plant the roots of cuttings in pots, making sure pots are deep enough to plant the existing foliage at least 1/2 inch deep in the soil. Place pots outdoors in an area that receives at least partial sun. Water the cuttings every other day until new growth appears. At any point in the process, you can simply pop out the transplants and plant them. If overwintering, it is always a good idea to bring potted plants into your garage or barn for added protection. Be sure to check out more great info on our Perennials category on the website. See : Perennials Tab

Contribute To This Is My Garden

Share your backyard garden or gardening tip on This Is My Garden! Email us today at [email protected], and you could be our next feature! This article may contain affiliate links.

We created this bed of daylillies from a single plant division last summer.

When the hot sun and sizzling heat of summer begins to set in late June, July and August – many think it may be too hot or too late to create new plants from the ones already in your landscape.

For many plants – such as ornamental grasses – it’s quite true. The summer heat is just too much stress to divide and establish multiple new plants.

But for some perennials – such as daylillies or hostas, it’s a great time to take a few oversized plants and create an entire new bed of color. I

n fact, from an average 12 to 18″ full-grown hosta or daylilly – we can usually make 10 to 12 new plants or more!

Dividing in the summertime is a little different, and it will take a few more weeks to get them established and growing again. With summertime dividing – understand that you will lose all of the leaves and foliage of the plant, as the tops will slowly die off after transplanting.

But soon enough – with a little water every few days – new growth will appear at the base within 2 to 3 weeks – and by late fall – the plants will have become established and ready to thrive next spring.

With the right growing conditions in the summer and fall – we have even had many of our daylillies throw out a few blooms the very same year they were transplanted!

In fact – except for a beautiful rose bush my sister gave us as a “farm warming” present a few back – we have zero dollars in our landscaping plants – which now total in excess of 600.

This past week – we used this summer-time transplanting trick to add some new plants to a new bed we are creating for a pergola area – all for free!

Here is how we do it:

Whether dividing hostas, daylillies, liriope, or coral bells – the process is the same. It’s such an easy way to create a lot of plants to fill an area quickly – for free!

1.Dig up the entire plant – making sure to dig down deep enough to pull out the entire root ball.

2. Using a sharp spade shovel (or a sharp axe if the plant is really large) – begin slicing from the root ball side.

I like to make sure to have at least a square inch of root ball cut for each new plant. You can usually get anywhere from 6 to 12 per plant depending on the size.

3. Planting – dig a hole deep enough to plant the roots along with about 1″ of the top growth of the plant under the soil. Water in, and continue to water at the base every few days until the new plants have emerged.

With a sharp shovel – divide the plant into 1″ sections

Although you can cut off the tops of the plants when you plant – I like to leave the foliage in place to help see where they are going. It also helps when it comes time to water – making it easy to find where you planted them! The tops will all eventually die off – but in about two to three weeks – you will begin to see shoots beginning to peek through the ground.

Potting up transplants :

Occasionally, if we are removing a plant and have no area to put them – we will pot up the transplants for use at a later time. Use the same technique and plant the roots down in the pot to an inch above the roots. Place them in an area that receives at least partial sun and water every few days. Within a few weeks you will begin to see new growth coming up – and you will have tons of ready-made potted perennials to plant whenever you need!

Happy Gardening!
Mary and Jim

If you would like to receive our DIY & Gardening Tips every Tuesday – be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column, “like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter

Dividing Perennials In The Summer – Create Tons Of New Plants For FREE! Tagged on: creating new plants daylilly dividing perennials dividing plants hosta hostas how to divide perennials how to divide plants

Dividing Hosta Plants – When Should Hostas Be Divided

Dividing hosta plants is an easy way to maintain the size and shape of your plants, to propagate new plants for other areas of the garden, and to remove dead portions of the plant and to make it look nicer. Dividing is easy, once you know how to do it correctly.

How to Split Hostas

Should hostas be divided? Yes, they definitely should be divided for several reasons. One is that division is the only real way to propagate new plants. Hostas from seeds don’t grow true in most cases. Division is also a great way to clean up your hostas, remove dead portions, and keep them the size you want. Here’s how to do it:

Start hosta plant division by digging up the entire root clump. Pull it up and shake off loose soil so you can better see the root system.

Hostas have a clumping root system, so to divide a plant, simply cut through the clump with a knife from the crown down. You can also pry apart the root clump with garden tools, but this won’t give you as much precision. Cutting through the roots is fine, as hostas roots quickly regrow once transplanted.

You can divide one plant into multiples, with even just one bud per division. Keep in mind that the fewer buds you have in each division, the less likely it will be that the new plant will bloom in the first year or two after transplanting. Of course, if you are dividing to re-size your plant, this won’t matter.

When to Divide a Hosta

Hosta plant division is best done in early spring, before the spikes have grown very high. But you can do it at any time throughout the spring and early summer. The smaller the plants are, the easier it will be to divide them and to avoid damaging any leaves.

If you are only dividing your hostas plants to maintain the size or to keep them healthy, you only need to do it every five to ten years.

Hostas plants are very forgiving when it comes to being divided. They’re great for your first try at dividing perennials. Take care in ensuring each bud or group of buds has roots still connected, and minimize damage to leaves. If you do damage any leaves, just trim them off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *