How to Divide Hostas

My Garden Life
April 20, 2020
Table of Contents
Hostas are the perfect plant for shady locations. They’re colorful, reliable and practically care-free! Over time though, a happy hosta can grow so much that it becomes too big for its original space. Most hosta plants (and perennial plants in general) reach full maturity three to four years from the time they’re first planted. From that point on they will continue to slowly expand in size; growing more dense and eventually encroaching on other nearby plants.
Dividing hostas is a great way to obtain more plants, but it’s also good for the overall health of the plant. Here are some of the additional benefits of dividing hostas and other perennial plants:
  • Reduces crowding in the garden and allows plants to display their full form.
  • Creates space for air to move between plants which helps prevent disease and discourage some insect pests.
  • Plant divisions can be used in other areas of the landscape or shared with friends and family.
  • Lifting plants from the ground improves condition of the soil by loosening compacted areas.
  • Dividing perennials can help keep more aggressive plants contained. These fast growers can be divided every one to two years if needed.

When to Divide Plants

Hosta plants can be divided any time spring through fall, however the best time is in the early spring before the plant leafs out or in late fall, before the ground freezes. Either of these times give the plant’s roots a chance to settle back in with the least amount of stress. If you must divide plants in the summer be sure to check the transplants daily for water until they are well-established.
Pro tip: Cloudy days are especially good for dividing plants since the hot sun can cause wilting and stress both during the process and after the plant divisions are replanted.

How to Divide Plants

Supplies for dividing perennial plant; shovel, tarp, gloves, bag of organic soil

Supplies:

Shovel
Gardening knife
Groundcover (tarp, newspaper, cardboard, etc.)
Garden gloves (optional)

Directions:

1. Assume that the root ball extends as far as the tips of the foliage. Using your shovel, cut a circle an inch or two further past the leaf tips, around the outside of plant.
digging up a hosta plant
2. Work your way back around the plant again, pushing the shovel even deeper and towards the center of the plant, gently lifting the root ball up as you go.
lifting hosta roots out of the ground to divide the plant
3. To keep things tidy have a tarp or newspaper
ready to set the uprooted plant on. hosta plants were divided and laid out on a tarp
4. It’s easiest to cut the roots apart using a sharp knife. Cut the plant at the base between the stems. Dividing the plant into smaller plants of the size you want.Cutting hosta roots apart with a knife.
5. The plant divisions are now ready to plant in a new location or pot up to share with your plant-loving friends.New Hosta plant divisions are ready to plant
6. This is a good time to nourish the soil by mixing some compost into the planting holes, before placing the plants. After planting, water thoroughly and apply mulch to help retain moisture and get the new plants off to a good start.Mulch and water new Hosta plantings
Looking for more ways to bring a dull, shady space to life? We’ve got solutions! Here are 10 Perennial Shade Plants with Fabulous Foliage that would make perfect companions for your hostas.
Hosta plants in garden border

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