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December 23, 2017

QuestionWe 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

QuestionBecause 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

QuestionI 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?

 AnswerI 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

QuestionI 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?


AnswerAs 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

QuestionI 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.

AnswerUnfortunately 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

QuestionI 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.

 AnswerHostas 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

QuestionMy 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?

 AnswerActually, 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

QuestionI 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.

AnswerBermuda 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

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


AnswerHostas 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

QuestionWould 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.


AnswerActually 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

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


AnswerHostas 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

QuestionI 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.

 AnswerHostas 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

QuestionPlease 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!


AnswerSlugs 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

QuestionI 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?


AnswerFrom 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

QuestionI 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


AnswerWe 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

QuestionI 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?


AnswerI 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.


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