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  • Writer's pictureJohn Chapin

Time to Divide Hostas!

hosta division
Photo by dengarden

Hostas, of which there are literally hundreds of varieties, remain one of the most popular garden perennials, reigning supreme in shady areas. There are miniature to giant varieties, in colors ranging from all shades of blue, green, and gold, as well as those with variegated leaves of striking color combinations. Leaves in many shapes from rounded to lance-shaped, can have a shiny or matte finish, be ruffled, smooth, or puckered in texture, with smooth, wavy, or pie-crust margins. New varieties are introduced every year, some initially costing hundreds of dollars, but are eagerly snapped up by collectors.

I personally value and admire large, mature clumps, it’s fun to make divisions to expand plantings of favorite varieties or to give to friends and family. Although hostas can be divided anytime they can be dug, I prefer to do this in early spring just when the pips start growing. This way you can clearly see the crowns when dividing and avoid damaging new leaves. With a sharp spade, you can take a ‘slice of pie’ out of the crown, fill the void with soil, and leave the rest of the plant undisturbed. Or, lift the entire clump and split it into as many pieces as desired, using a spade or large knife, with at least 3 or 4 shoots each.

After planting the divisions, mulch before the pips start opening. They will easily grow through even a few inches of fresh mulch. If the leaves have started expanding, an easy way to mulch is to put an upside-down pot over the plant to protect it, spread the mulch around it, then lift off the pot and tuck in the emerging hosta. (I like to fertilize the clumps with compost or a time-release complete fertilizer like Osmocote before mulching.)

If deer are a problem, don’t let them make a salad bar of the tender new leaves! Spraying with a deer repellent weekly until mid-May, then every few weeks is fine in summer. There are many deer repellents to choose from, both commercial and home-made recipes, but I find that “Bobbex” works really well.

Happy gardening!

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