The rules of hostas winter care are few, you'll be glad to hear. In fact as part of their natural cycle a hosta actually needs a certain amount of cold weather. This doesn't mean that you can just neglect them in the colder months though...
Cutting Back - Discourage Pests & Diseases
As an owner of hosta plants, you will have already realized what an attractive plant it is not only to you, but to slugs as well. When preparing your hostas for winter care, cutting your plant back provides two very necessary benefits over the winter.
Getting rid of dead and decaying foliage discourages those hungry slugs from setting up residence in your plant, as well as minimizing the likelihood of hosta diseases.
Encourages new growth in the spring. After the first hard frost of the fall, you can cut your hosta plant right back to the ground. This may seem a little drastic, but it does mean that as well as keeping slugs away you will also give your plant the best chance to come back bigger and better next spring.
Container Grown Hostas Care
Whilst of course there are many steps in hostas winter care that apply to hosta plants whether they are in the ground, or container grown, it is important to treat them differently in certain aspects.
As part of a hostas growing cycle, it is important to the plant that it receives some cold weather in order to become dormant for a couple of weeks a year at least. The plant needs this period for growth and rest, and should receive temperatures of below 40F (4C) in order for this natural cycle to continue.
If your hostas are in the ground, then this cycle will continue naturally, but with container grown plants, there is always the temptation to bring your hostas indoors, or into a garage to protect them from the colder elements. This is not necessary. The following steps are all you need to take to protect your container grown hostas this winter:
- Cover the surface of the soil with around a 2 inch depth of mulch - much more than this and your plant won't remain pest free. Pine bark mulch or wood chippings would work well, but as long as the mulch is organic, it will protect the plant's roots as well as providing goodness to the soil.
- If the container is small, or you live in a particularly cold part of the world, then insulating your container by wrapping it in a blanket or something similar. Extra protection can be given by moving the container to somewhere that is protected from the wind.
Care for Hostas in the Ground
Hostas that are planted in the ground need very little care during the winter, but if you live in an especially cold climate or your hostas are small or dwarf varieties, extra precautionary steps can be taken to ensure your hosta is protected.
After making sure all dead leaves have been cleared away, mulch the surrounding area of soil with an organic mulch or compost.
As for container grown hostas, a 2 inch layer should be sufficient - you want to protect the root system of the hosta plant without encouraging pests to set up home.
In the spring this can then be cleared, either after the last frost of the season, or when new shoots begin to appear.
Although hostas winter care is a basic process, by following these simple steps you will reap the rewards come springtime, with bigger and healthier plants than ever before