How Much Water Do Hostas Need?

by Judi on September 5, 2017

Just how much water do Hostas need to thrive? Find quick tips and methods for the care and watering of your Hosta and avoid killing them.

Recently I attended a workshop that an area Garden Club sponsored (Tilling Thyme, Sparta, WI) with a wonderful garden tour and in addition had a local Hosta Nursery, Uniquely Hostas, in Elroy, WI, presenting a program on growing Hostas.

Even though I have been growing Hostas for 30+ years, it was so interesting and I gained even more knowledge!  (You are never too old to learn)!

Marlene Rosenberg and husband Jonathan Goodrich along with their son Seth, own and operate Uniquely Hostas in Elroy, WI.  They started the business 4 years ago.

How Much Water Do Hostas Need?

All of their thousands of Hostas are grown in the sun!  Yes, in the sun.  The key is the reasoning as we have been told for years, and years and that is to water, water, water the plants!  They say from 1.5 to 2″ per week is what is needed to keep them growing well.  Not, the 1 inch per week that we always heard.  Plus, if you are fighting tree roots then the tree gets all of the moisture first.  (It is bigger!)

Can You Grow Hostas In The Sun?

Most large commercial growers have all their Hostas growing in the sun.  The reasoning is that the root system develops better because of the roots always going out and looking for water.  Also, a plus, the sun will help the golden Hostas like Sum & Substance and August Moon, Midas Touch, Key West, Sun Power, and Vanilla Cream and many other golden Hostas, retain their color throughout the season.

We lost another 100+-year-old white pine in a winter storm in March this year, that was in the south east area of a large Hosta Bed, and that has opened up the shade cover and I can see that the Hostas were looking real good there this summer in spite of losing the tree.  The Hostas that usually had burnt leaves by Mid July, were still lovely this year up to and through early August.  I am surprised and happy. This happened because of all the extra rain we have had here in Wisconsin this summer and there was no extra watering to be done during the summer months.

Moving Hosta Can Help Their Appearance

A few years ago I had a Sum & Substance planted in a northern exposure on the side of our gazebo and it did nothing!  It didn’t color up at all.  I finally moved it to that same southeast location on the side of the house and now it is 5 feet wide and gorgeous yellow/gold.  So, I realized how Hostas need the sun, but didn’t realize that the sun makes them put down more roots and thus, grow faster and larger.  Of course, this all depends on how much water they get in a season, and many years you need to supplement that.

Sum and Substance Hosta

Sum and Substance Hosta

Liberty Hosta

Liberty Hosta steals the show.

We here, in West Central Wisconsin, have had an overabundance of rain this spring and summer and so all was well until about a week ago when I could start to see burning on the leaves as the rain clouds went around us this August.  I am not, however watering the mature ones this time of the year, as it is mid-August, and they will be fine the rest of the growing season and still look good.

Guardian Angel Hosta

Guardian Angel looking good in the fall months with plenty of water.

I do, however, have some little Munchkin Fire that I purchased this spring, that I water as they were so little, I put them in 4″ pots and sunk them in the ground and now they are 3 times as large as when they came in the mail.  They are doing really well in the pots and will stay in them over this winter.  I will transplant them next spring into the soil along with some compost.

There is always something to be learned from attending programs on gardening and plantings of any kind.  There are always tidbits to pick up along the way, too, from neighbors and friends that love to dabble in the growing of plants.  Attend garden seminars and classes and as many as possible to pick up all the information your mind can soak up!

Happy Gardening,

Judi

 

 

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pruning shrubsSpring is in the air…but don’t rush it! Find out which gardening activities to avoid in late winter and which are safe to do.

Spring in Western Wisconsin seems to have arrived a month or more early this year.  It is the week of February 20th (that is when I started writing this) and we have had 40, 50 and 60 degree days already, melting most of the snow.  (Now it is February 25th and we have had cold/blowing snow yesterday and ice.  No spring for today anyway.  Everything is covered with snow.  This is normal for the end of February.)

In the picture above, you can see that we have green grass on Feb. 22 here!  This area was under snow cover for the winter months so the grass stayed green.  We normally hear that our last frost date for this zone 4, average is May 15th.  And, we notoriously have frost at least half the years I can remember at the end of May around Memorial Day!

The early warm weather can leave you itching to get out and take a peek at your outdoor plants, but doing so could harm them. Here are gardening activities to avoid in late winter and what you can do instead. Here are some more tips for early spring gardening.

Gardening Activities To Avoid In Late Winter

Leave Your Plants Covered Up

It is not a time to be out in the yard even thinking of uncovering any perennials or raking!  Let things sleep for another 6 weeks.  You don’t want to uncover any mulch even if they are sprouting up. Don’t dig around the roots at all. Let them sleep. They need the rest time.

Perennials that leaf out too early will be stunted by any late frosts and the flower buds are hurt and do not bloom so pretty or as prolific.  We will more than likely have snow a few times again between now and mid April too.

Save Raking For Later

Raking the lawn too early disturbs the roots of the grass and can pull them right out of the ground, ruining your nice lawn.  Not good for sod at all.  Also, stay off the grass when the frost is coming out so as not to disturb the roots either. And, don’t walk through your perennial beds! If the ground is thawing, it will compact the soil by stepping on the beds.  This is not good for the roots of the plants.

What Can You Do In Your Yard or Garden Right Now?

Trim Select Shrubs And Trees

dormant shrubs late winter
One thing that can be done now is trimming shrubs and trees.  Only do the shrubs that are summer or fall blooming however, or you will lose flowers on them. Wait to prune spring flowering shrubs like Bridal Wreath or Lilacs until right after they flower.

Don’t let overgrown, misshapen, poor flowering and unhealthy shrubs ruin the beauty of your landscape. A little careful pruning can turn lackluster shrubs into beautiful plants later in the season.

Removing older stems with renewal pruning (cutting off the oldest stems at ground level) allows you to control the plant size and shape as well as encourage new controlled growth. Use the stems you cut off as vertical interest in your annual container gardens for things like ivy or petunias to climb on.

 

On the shrub in the picture above, you can see the larger stems that should be trimmed out each year.  This is a Ninebark and can get unruly unless it is trimmed each year.  I have Hostas underneath the shrub so I like to keep the side branches trimmed off too.  About 4 years ago, I trimmed this Ninebark to the ground, to about 4″ tall.

late winter shrubs

This link below to McKay Nursery has great guidelines for trimming Hydrangeas.  There is a listing of named varieties and the different ways you should trim each one.  (This is why it is a good idea to label your plants both outside and inside so you know what you are growing!).

http://www.mckaynursery.com/mckay-green-tips/pruning-hydrangeas/?___SID=

The Tardiva Hydrangea in the picture above will get 1/4 to 1/3 of the largest stems removed later this spring and the old flower heads trimmed off, as well as any unruly branches.

Make Plans For Dividing Perennials

This time is also good for planning (and writing down) what needs dividing in the perennial bed. If the lawn is dry you can walk around the beds and with a notebook, write down areas that need help this spring. You can write down what you remember from last summer, on which perennials were overgrown.

Clean Your Potting Shed, Pots, And Tools

This is also a good time to go through the potting shed or garage and see what pots can be cleaned up that didn’t get done last fall as well as taking stock of tools that might need replacing. Some garden centers aren’t open for the season yet, so check on line to find things you would want to look for when the garden center opens.

If you really feel the need to work in soil, re-pot and or divide some overgrown houseplants! This always makes me feel good to do in February and March.

Visit A Green House

Or, make a trip to a green house and has houseplants and purchase some new varieties that you have been wanting to try. I like to buy smaller sizes (less $$) but love to see them grow into big beautiful specimens over the next couple of years.  I buy some also to put into pots outside in the summer.  It gives them a head start and I can enjoy them for 2-3 months in the house too!  I buy ivies and taller spike like plants that I use in pots in the summer to get a head start on growing.

Last of all, be Patient! Summer will come soon enough and the time between now and then will go fast!

Happy Gardening from Judi at Favorite Perennials.

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