How and When to Transplant Hostas

Learn what you need to know about transplanting hostas, from timing to technique.

Shrub and Flower-Filled Corner Garden

Shrub and Flower-Filled Corner Garden

Hostas and other varieties of ornamental shrubs grow alongside flowering plants in this corner garden.

Photo by: DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Garden Design, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

By: Julie A Martens

Dig into shade gardening even just a little, and you’ll be transplanting hostas before you know it. These shade-loving perennials have easy growing personalities and when they’re happy, they eventually outgrow the space you’ve given them. The good news is that you don’t need heavy duty garden knowledge to learn how to transplant hostas. The trickiest part is knowing when to transplant hostas — and that’s not even that difficult.

Wondering when to transplant hostas? The ideal times are in spring or early autumn. In most regions, if you can time it right, plant to transplant hostas before seasonal rains arrive. That way, the rains can keep soil moist and help new plants get established more quickly. Early fall is probably the absolute best time to tackle transplanting hostas, because soil is still warm from long summer days, which means hosta roots will grow quickly. Spring transplanting also works fine as long as you wait until soil has warmed up a bit.

How often you need to transplant hostas varies. As a rule, hostas tend to grow bigger the longer they stay in one spot, so if you’re wanting a substantially sized plant, avoid frequent transplanting. If a plant has outgrown its place, then you should consider transplanting.

Some hosta varieties perform like many clump-forming perennials, with older plants dying out in the center of the clump. In this situation, new growth occurs along clump edges. This new growth is often individual small plants ideal for transplanting.

Usually transplanting hostas is easy and relatively quick. Take time to prepare the soil in the new planting area. Mix in plenty of organic matter to create a soil base that’s rich and drains well. For organic matter, use compost, ground tree bark, composted manure or any other material that’s locally available to you.

When transplanting hostas, you want to get as much of the root ball as you can. This is especially important with larger plants. Start digging the plant by inserting your shovel into soil just outside the edge of the leaves. Roots typically extend this far. Insert the shovel all the way around the hosta, forming a circle. Pry the plant out of the ground. With really large plants, roots may extend up to 18 inches deep.

Once the plant is out of the ground, slide it onto a tarp. This protects surrounding plants or lawn from being inundated with soil falling off the hosta root system. It also makes it easier to tackle dividing plants, if that’s necessary. When transplanting hostas, be sure to place the new plants at the same depth they were growing previously. Water well after transplanting.

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